Gonzaga Opens NCAA Tournament Play Against Valparaiso
March 14, 2004
By MICHAEL MAROT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Gonzaga University will make its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance this Thursday when the Bulldogs open play against Valparaiso University. The two teams will meet at Key Arena in Seattle with Gonzaga entering the tournament as a No. 2 seed, Valparaisio comes into the tournament as a 15 seed. The two teams will be playing for a chance to advance to the St. Louis regional. The Gonzaga/Valparaiso winner will face the winner of the Michigan State/Nevada game. MSU comes into the tournament as a No. 7 seed while Nevada is the No. 10 seed.
Kentucky was selected the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament field Sunday, joined on top of the brackets by Duke, Stanford and Saint Joseph's.
Kentucky will be the top seed in the St. Louis regional, while Duke is in the Atlanta regional, Stanford in the Phoenix regional and Saint Joseph's in the East Rutherford regional.
The St. Louis and East Rutherford regional winners will meet in the national semifinals.
The tournament begins Tuesday night with the play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, between Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Florida A&M (14-16) and Patriot League champion Lehigh (20-10). That winner will play Kentucky (26-4), the Southeastern Conference champion, on Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
The other top seeds in Kentucky's regional feature Gonzaga at No. 2, followed by Georgia Tech and Kansas.
Saint Joseph's, which won its first 27 games before losing by 20 points to Xavier in the Atlantic 10 tournament, opens play in Buffalo, N.Y., on Thursday against Liberty. The other top seeds in the regional are Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.
Duke (27-5), which lost to Maryland in overtime in Sunday's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, is a No. 1 seed for the sixth time in seven years. The Blue Devils open against Alabama State on Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.
The No. 2 seed in that regional is Mississippi State followed by Texas and Cincinnati.
Pac-10 champion Stanford (29-1) meets Texas-San Antonio on Thursday in Seattle.
The other top seeds in the regional are Connecticut, North Carolina State and Maryland.
Syracuse, the defending national champion, is the No. 5 seed in the Phoenix regional.
The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Conference USA and Southeastern Conference each got six teams into the tournament. The Atlantic 10 and Big 12 each had four chosen.
The Big Ten, Mountain West and Pac-10 received three bids each, and the only other conferences with multiple bids were the Western Athletic and Missouri Valley, with two each.
Only one team - Eastern Washington, the Big Sky tournament champion - is making its first appearance in the tournament.
Air Force, the Mountain West regular-season champion, had the longest drought among teams that had played in the tournament, making the field for the first time since 1962. Nevada is in the field for the first time since 1985 and Lehigh is in for the first time since 1988.
Texas-El Paso, the 13th seed in the Phoenix regional, was the last at-large team selected. It is making its first tournament appearance since 1992.
The teams considered on the bubble that didn't make the field included Colorado, Missouri, Florida State and Utah State.
Florida A&M is the only sub-.500 team in the field. The Rattlers were 12-18 in their only other NCAA appearance in 1999.
The regionals are March 25-28 and the Final Four is in San Antonio on April
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