Other than MAC slight, NCAA got it right

Mar 15, 2005 9:17 AM

The NCAA selection committee basically got it right.

Washington broke through the East Coast bias and secured a No. 1 seed out West when Wake Forest, Kentucky and Kansas blew their chances with tournament losses.

And big-name schools such as Notre Dame and Maryland were correctly not handed invitations due to poor play down the stretch. But, as always, there are gripes. That’s a given.

The Mid-America Conference only managed to land its tournament champ Ohio University in the Big Dance — and as a lowly No. 13 seed to boot! Tourney runnerup Buffalo had a better record than Ohio, but was left out. On the other hand, Texas, N.C. State and Iowa managed to get in.

The debates will go on until the tourney officially begins Thursday. Oh, there is a play-in game between Oakland and Alabama A&M that takes place Tuesday night in Dayton. Oakland was a 7½ point choice to earn the honor of losing to North Carolina in the opening round.

Here are some of the matchups we like in the first two days. We won’t rehash the trends and stats. They are available further on in the special GT college basketball section.

Oak/A&M vs UNC: No line on this mismatch yet, though suicide is an option. The game is in Charlotte, which provides even more of an edge for the Tar Heels. UNC should win by 35 to 40, so that should be safe. UNC.

Bucknell (+15) vs Kansas: The Jayhawks just don’t shoot the ball very well and they don’t cover much these days. Bucknell is hungry and could cause a few worries for KU. Chalk one up for the guys from Pennsylvania. BUCKNELL.

UL-Laf (+12½) vs Louisville: This should be a laugh — for the Cardinals. Louisville should be angry at being a No. 4 seed. They have blown away far better teams than Lafayette. First half wagers may be a good idea in this one. LOUISVILLE.

Pittsburgh (-4) vs Pacific: Somebody must not like Pitt, sending the Panthers to Boise for a matchup with Pacific. The Tigers are one of the "smaller schools" you don’t want to face. We love getting points. PACIFIC.

Penn (+6½) vs Boston College: Talk about what have you done for me lately? BC was 20-0 sitting firmly on a No. 1 seed. Now at 24-4, the Eagles are barely better than Penn, the Ivy League bully and wimp everywhere else. BC.

Iowa (+3½) vs Cincinnati: Don’t ask me how Iowa deserves to be here, but the stay will be short. Cincinnati majors in overpowering and intimidating teams not equal in talent. This formula applies bigtime in this case. CINCY.

UTEP (+3) vs Utah: The Utes have Andrew Bogut and nothing else. UTEP will have a lot of fans coming over to Tucson from El Paso. They’ll enjoy themselves. Take the points and go for the money line. UTEP