Kansas, Texas and then who? Many possibilities exist for which NCAA Tournament teams will get sent to Tulsa
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Sunday, March 13, 2011
3/13/11 at 9:18 AM
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Unfortunately, basketball fans, there is no common thread. There are no trends, no tendencies, no hidden mathematical equations buried in the matrix.
Alas, as of Sunday morning, nobody knows which NCAA Tournament participants are bound for the BOK Center.
Not that there's a lack of guesses.
A website called bracketproject.com lists 85 different projections for next week's NCAA Tournament. There are, of course, more than that out there in cyberspace. Some, like those of CollegeRPI.com's Jerry Palm or ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi, use accurate replications of the NCAA's ratings percentage index (RPI) that help determine seeds and sites and are frequently spot-on.
Others, on the other hand, appear to use replications of Palm or Lunardi, with a tweak or two for originality's sake.
For starters, Palm, Lunardi and just about everyone else has Big 12 powerhouses Kansas and Texas coming to Tulsa for games next Friday and Sunday.
The Kansas-Texas sentiment has become so prevalent among forecasters it actually would be surprising if the NCAA selection committee didn't send the Jayhawks and Longhorns to Tulsa when the bracket is unveiled Sunday during a 5 p.m. selection show on CBS (KOTV channel 6).
"I think if we could pick our dream bracket, we obviously would pick Kansas and Texas," said Jeff Nickler, booking and special events manager at the BOK Center.
"From a common-sense standpoint, two premier Big 12 programs that are regionally based, I think that would be definitely advantageous to have those teams here. They both have devout fan followings and I think both would provide a lot of ticket buyers for our arena."
That's as close to science as it gets for the 10-member selection committee.
"I think you can count on Kansas and Texas," Palm told the Tulsa World on Saturday night. "But beyond that. ."
Indeed, the other six teams coming to Tulsa are anybody's guess, but according to some projections include a handful of basketball semi-bluebloods like Michigan, UNLV, Michigan State, Arizona, Villanova and Gonzaga. In the last three decades, that group (including Kansas) has accounted for eight national championships.
"One site I saw this morning, we had Kansas on one side, Texas on the other, Villanova and Cincinnati," said Ray Hoyt, executive director of the Tulsa Sports Commission. "Talk about a great Sunday, to have Big 12 versus Big East on Sunday in Tulsa. I don't think it gets any better than that. That would be my dream."
So for now, expect lots of royal blue and burnt orange throughout the city next weekend.
"For us, geographically speaking, Kansas and Texas make sense. With their strong and loyal backing, we expect the big crowds with them," said Nick Salis, assistant athletic director at the University of Tulsa and co-director of the Tulsa regional. "But one thing that's exciting for our site and what we're looking for is just some good matchups and some good games.
"We're excited about the possibility of getting teams from other regions and giving fans an opportunity to see other brands of basketball from other regions, and then also getting fans coming from other regions into Tulsa and experiencing our great city."
Last month, selection committee chairman Gene Smith, athletic director at Ohio State, said the placing BOK Center's eight-team field wouldn't be given any special consideration as a new venue - either by assuming a sellout because of its newness and novelty, or by sending regional participants here to assure strong ticket sales.
"We really don't take that into consideration," Smith said. "Obviously, sometimes we get fortunate and a local team or a team that's geographically close ends up there, but we really don't take that into consideration."
Nickler said the NCAA has no official policy about filling arenas with fans of teams from within a given region. But Nickler also was able to shed some light on the concept and how the selection committee's black-and-white way of placing teams may be changing.
"I know through our conversations with the NCAA, they're making a concerted effort this year to place teams geographically closer to home," Nickler said. "In the past decade, they've had a lot of teams who have had to travel all the way across the country, whether it's Syracuse going all the way to California or something like that. I know they're making a more concerted effort to place teams closer to home. But there's no official policy. And I'm absolutely certain the age of a building or the fact that it's a new building has nothing to do with it."
Generally, here's what local fans should expect: Kansas and Texas as the higher seeds, someone from the Southeastern Conference (Tennessee, Vanderbilt), Big East (Cincinnati, Villanova), Pac-10 (Arizona) and/or Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State) as the middle seeds, and teams from mid-major leagues like the Mid-Eastern Athletic (Hampton), Western Athletic (Utah State), Big West (Cal Santa Barbara) or Big Sky (Northern Colorado) as the lower seeds.
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Selection Sunday projections for BOK Center
SOUTHEAST: 2 Texas vs. 15 Long Beach State, 7 Xavier vs. 10 Utah State
SOUTHWEST: 1 Kansas vs. 16 Hampton, 8 Villanova vs. 9 Michigan State
SOUTHEAST: 2 Texas vs. 15 Northern Colorado, 7 UNLV vs. 10 Michigan
SOUTHWEST: 1 Kansas vs. 16 Arkansas-Little Rock/McNeese State, 8 Utah State vs. 9 Gonzaga
SOUTHWEST: 1 Kansas vs. 16 UNC Asheville, 8 George Mason vs. 9 Florida State
WEST: 2 BYU vs. 15 Long Beach State, 7 Tennessee vs. 10 Marquette
*-Projections prior to Saturday's games
JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Original Print Headline: Who might be coming?
John E. Hoover 918-581-8384
Texas, coached by Rick Barnes (left), and Kansas, led by coach Bill Self, are expected to play NCAA Tournament games in Tulsa starting this week, according to most bracket experts. AP photos; Photo illustration by ETHAN ERICKSON/Tulsa World