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Committee has tough picks throughout, starting at top
Gary Walters understands the difficulty in filling the final spots for the NCAA field. But this year his selection committee faces another tough task - picking the top seeds.
By MICHAEL MAROTAP
Published March 8, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS - Gary Walters understands the difficulty in filling the final spots for the NCAA field. But this year his selection committee faces another tough task - picking the top seeds.
With Florida's late-season struggles, Wisconsin's injuries and Kansas' power ranking, Walters acknowledged Wednesday that putting together the 65-team field this weekend will be far from clear-cut.
"There appears to be less clarity at the top this year," Walters, the committee chairman, said during a conference call hours before the 10-member group was to meet. "So that could change the seeding if someone stubs their toes in the conference tournaments."
While much of the talk focuses on whether mid-major schools such as Old Dominion, Drexel, Santa Clara and Missouri State warrant at-large bids, the debate among committee members may driven more by seeding.
Among those in the mix are Florida and Wisconsin.
The Gators (26-5) are the defending national champions, the regular-season SEC champs and were ranked No. 1 four weeks ago. But a 2-3 stretch knocked the Gators down to No. 6 in the Associated Press poll and No. 9 in the RPI Index.
Wisconsin (27-4) is No. 3 in the poll and No. 4 in the RPI but has not looked the same since starting center Brian Butch hurt his right elbow Feb. 25 against No. 1 Ohio State.
The committee considers injuries, as Cincinnati learned in 2000 after Kenyon Martin cracked a bone in his right leg in a Conference USA tournament game. The Bearcats, who were ranked No. 1, wound up with a No. 2 seed.
Kansas (27-4) is ranked No. 2 but its RPI is 15, which could force the Jayhawks off the top line if they make an early exit in the Big 12 tournament.