Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 17, 2013

Louisville top overall seed in NCAA tournament

(Continued)

LOUISVILLE —

On Thursday, Gonzaga takes on Southern in the second round of the West Regional at Salt Lake City. The Zags will be relishing their first No. 1 seed, though they are hardly a tournament neophyte; this is their 15th straight NCAA appearance, a mid-major program that has shown it can hang with the big boys.

This season, they come into the tournament on a 14-game winning streak.

"In our judgment that's a very complete and very strong basketball team," Bobinski said.

On Friday, Kansas stays close to home in Kansas City, Mo., facing Western Kentucky in a South Region second-round game, while Indiana opens in Dayton, Ohio, against either LIU Brooklyn or James Madison, another of the "First Four" contests.

One thing is for sure in this most uncertain season: There won't be a repeat champion.

A year after taking its eighth national title - only UCLA has won more - Kentucky's success in restocking each year with the best one-and-done prospects hit a roadblock. The Wildcats never meshed as a unit, then lost the best of the freshmen when Nerlens Noel went down with a season-ending knee injury. An upset over Florida boosted their stock heading to the SEC tournament. But the Wildcats turned in a miserable performance in Nashville, Tenn., losing to Vanderbilt 64-48 in the quarterfinals.

"That was a tough way to finish if you're going to impress upon us that you're one of the best teams in the nation," Bobinski said.

While the Big East had the most teams, followed by the Big Ten with seven, the less-glamorous leagues also did well. Middle Tennessee, for instance, was the last of the at-large teams to make the field, along with LaSalle, Boise State and Saint Mary's, beating out more recognized programs such as Tennessee, Iowa, Alabama and Virginia. Not to mention Kentucky.

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