Louisville gets to stay in hits home state for the first two games, with coach Rick Pitino’s Cardinals potentially facing a 20-loss team and then possibly have a rematch of an early-season game they easily won.
MEAC tournament winner North Carolina A&T (19-16), in the field for the first time since 1995, and Big South tournament champion Liberty (15-20) play Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio. The winner goes to Lexington, Ky., to play Louisville on Thursday.
Colorado State (25-8), the eighth seed with an at-large berth out of the Mountain West, plays SEC newcomer Missouri (23-10) in the other Thursday game at Rupp Arena. Mizzou lost 84-61 to Louisville in the Bahamas the day after Thanksgiving.
First-year Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy is taking his fourth different team to the NCAA tournament, having previously gone with Utah State, Iowa State and Southern Mississippi. The Rams lead the nation with a rebounding margin of 12.1, and Missouri is third with a 9.5 advantage. The Tigers are also the only team in the nation with six players averaging in double-figure scoring.
Oklahoma State is a No. 5 seed for the first time since 1993, when the Cowboys lost to Louisville in the second round in Indianapolis. They could face the Cardinals in Indianapolis in the round of 16 this time _ which would pit Pitino against the regional MVP of his 1993 Final Four team at Kentucky, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford.
“I agree with the NCAA committee that they’re the No. 1 overall seed, after watching them play last night and what they’ve done lately in the Big East,” Ford said. “Definitely the team to beat at this point. It would be nice to have the opportunity to make it that far and have a chance to play.”
The Cowboys (24-8) are led by Marcus Smart, the guard was selected as the Big 12’s Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. They play Pac 12 champion Oregon (26-8) on Thursday in San Jose, Calif.
Atlantic 10 champ Saint Louis (27-6) is the No. 4 seed in the Midwest three months after the death of coach Rick Majerus. The Billikens play WAC champion New Mexico State (24-10) in the other Midwest game in California.
After winning the A-10 tournament in Brooklyn on Sunday, the Billikens were on their way to the airport for their charter flight, with plans to watch the NCAA selection show in the terminal before flying back home. But they got caught in traffic, and instead went to a Best Buy store in New Jersey to watch the show.
“A team like this, I don’t think there’s a limit on how far we can go,” St. Louis junior forward Dwayne Evans said. “We’ve got a lot of special pieces that work well together.”
AP Sports Writers Joedy McCreary, Teresa Walker and Jeff Latzke contributed to this report.