Oregon, Kansas, Illinois, Texas Get Favorable Sites In Midwest
March 10, 2002
By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer
DALLAS - The Kansas Jayhawks have a short trip for their first-roundmatchup in the NCAA tournament, which is only fair since they're the top seed.Same goes for second-seeded Oregon.
That means Illinois and Texas were the big winners when the Midwest Regionalwas announced Sunday because they, too, will stay close to home despite beinglower seeds and losing in the semifinals of their conference tournaments.
The fourth-seeded Illini (24-8) travel to Chicago for a first-round gameFriday against San Diego State (21-11), while the sixth-seeded Longhorns(20-11) will be in Dallas to play Boston College (20-11) on Friday.
Kansas (29-3) is going to St. Louis to play Holy Cross (18-14) on Thursday.Oregon (23-8) heads to Sacramento, Calif., to play Montana (16-14) on Thursday.
The Jayhawks and Ducks, both regular-season conference champions, held ontosuch high seeds even after losing in their conference tournaments.
Kansas fell 64-55 to Oklahoma in the Big 12 finals Sunday. Oregon lost toSouthern Cal in the Pac-10 semifinals Saturday.
Selection committee chairman Lee Fowler said the Jayhawks, No. 1 in the mostrecent Associated Press poll, were assured a top seed before they played theSooners. Committee members discussed what to do if Kansas lost and decided theJayhawks didn't deserve to be bumped because of one game.
'They said, `We don't need to work on other scenario. We're happy the wayit is,'' Fowler said.
The Jayhawks hadn't lost to a Big 12 team all season before the Sooners beatthem. They were 18-0 in the conference and were coming off a 40-point win overTexas Tech.
But Kansas, the highest-scoring team in the nation, had a season low forpoints by 12. Hopeful Holy Cross fans might want to note that the Jayhawks'clunker game came in Kansas City, Mo.
'We didn't play the best today, but it's been a great, great run,' saidcoach Roy Williams, seeking his first Final Four since 1993. 'We're going toput the game behind us after we practice tomorrow, then we'll go from there.'
Oregon has dusted off program history books this season, setting or breakingrecords for conference wins and home wins that date to the 1930s. Now theirsights are set on winning an NCAA tournament game for the first time since1960.
'That's another milestone that's sitting out there for us,' coach ErnieKent said. 'We are really ready.'
If third-seeded Mississippi State, which won the Southeastern Conferencetournament title Sunday, or fifth-seeded Florida feel slighted by the placementof Illinois and Texas, they could get revenge on the court in second-roundgames Sunday.
Mississippi State (26-7) faces McNeese State (21-8) on Friday in Dallas,with the winner getting Texas if it advances. Florida (22-8) will playCreighton (22-8), with the winner facing Illinois if it advances.
Kansas' next foe would be the winner of 8-9 game Thursday in St. Louisbetween Stanford (19-9) and Western Kentucky (28-3), which has won 18 straight.Both teams are led by big players, which could make for an interesting matchupwith the guard-led Jayhawks.
Oregon will be aiming for a second-round game against seventh-seeded WakeForest (20-12) or 10th-seeded Pepperdine (22-8). They play Thursday inSacramento, Calif.
The Midwest winner plays the East winner in the Final Four.