- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2008


North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas and UCLA earned the top seeds in the NCAA tournament today, and the top-ranked Tar Heels got the best deal of all: Their road to the Final Four won’t veer more than two hours outside their Chapel Hill campus.

The Tar Heels (32-2) are the top seed in the East, with their first- and second-round games scheduled for Raleigh and the next two rounds in Charlotte.

“It’s an advantage if you play well,” said Carolina coach Roy Williams, trying to lead the Tar Heels to their second title in four years. “Just because the crowd’s cheering for you, I’ve never had a crowd win a game. I know it sounds wacko.”

Georgetown was the highest-seeded local team in the tournament. The Hoyas drew a No. 2 seed in the Midwest and will face Maryland-Baltimore County on Friday in Raleigh, N.C.

American University earned its first NCAA tournament berth with a No. 15 seed and a very tough assignment: The Eagles will face the East’s No. 2 seed, Tennessee, on Friday in Birmingham, Ala.

George Mason, trying to reprise its stunning trip to the Final Four two years ago, received a No. 12 seed in the East and will meet No. 5 Notre Dame in Denver on Thursday.

March Madness officially begins Tuesday with an opening-round game between two more area schools, Coppin State and Mount St. Mary’s. The winner of that game faces North Carolina.

Other games in the region are: No. 7 Butler vs. No. 10 South Alabama; No. 3 Louisville vs. No. 14 Boise State; No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 St. Josephs; No. 8 Indiana vs. No. 9 Arkansas; and No. 4 Washington State vs. No. 13 Winthrop.

In the West, UCLA plays No. 16 Mississippi Valley State, No. 8 BYU plays No. 9 Texas A&M;, No. 5 Drake plays No. 12 Western Kentucky and No. 4 Connecticut plays No. 13 San Diego.

That region features eight teams playing in the District at Verizon Center: No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Belmont, No. 7 West Virginia vs. No. 10 Arizona, No. 6 Purdue vs. No. 11 Baylor and No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 14 Georgia, which won the Southeastern Conference on Sunday afternoon to make a surprise trip to the NCAAs with a 17-16 record.

By defeating Texas in the Big 12 title game, Kansas earned its top seed, a short trip to Omaha, Neb., and a first-round game against Big Sky champion Portland State.

The marquee matchup in that region, however, will be between No. 6 Southern California and No. 11 Kansas State ” a meeting of top freshmen O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley.

Other Midwest games pit No. 8 UNLV against No. 9 Kent State; No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 Villanova, a bubble team; No. 4 Vanderbilt against No. 13 Siena; No. 7 Gonzaga vs. No. 10 Davidson; and No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 14 Cal State-Fullerton.

In the South region, Memphis opens against No. 16 Texas-Arlington, No. 8 Mississippi State plays No. 9 Oregon, No. 5 Michigan State plays No. 12 Temple and No. 4 Pittsburgh plays No. 13 Oral Roberts.

The other side of the bracket includes No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Austin Peay, No. 7 Miami vs. No. 10 St. Mary’s, No. 3 Stanford vs. No. 14 Cornell and No. 6 Marquette against No. 11 Kentucky, with coach Billy Gillespie in his first year at the school.

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