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March Madness 2013 No. 1 seeds

By Emma Coghlan, Liz Schneider, Tyler Drohan, and Andrew Erickson

March 19, 2013 6:30 a.m.

No. 1 seed: Louisville

Regional Semifinal: Indianapolis

The Midwest bracket is being highly touted as the regional of death, and with good reason.

No. 1 overall seed Louisville tops off the Midwest, but several other strong teams – Michigan State, Duke, St. Louis and Oklahoma State to name a few –will be looking to make it to the Sweet Sixteen in Indianapolis.

The third-seeded Spartans fell in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament to the Ohio State Buckeyes (who snagged a second-seed in the West) but Michigan State University has a good chance to make a run in the Big Dance if it make it past its first opponent, the Valparaiso Crusaders, who are back in the tournament after nine years away and will look to make it count.

One Pac-12 team made it into this highly competitive section of the bracket – the conference tournament title holders, the Oregon Ducks. With a first round matchup against Oklahoma State, 12th-seeded Oregon will have to do everything in its power to get even a step closer to Indianapolis. Many saw the low seed for the conference title holders as a snub, but it will be up to the Ducks to prove it.

The Midwest has two opening round play-in games: North Carolina A&T versus Liberty and Middle Tennessee versus St. Mary’s.

The Liberty squad is already the definition of a Cinderella team by just getting into the tournament, as they have a 15-20 record. However, a Big South Conference tournament title gave the Flames the opportunity to play in for the 16th seed, something they likely didn’t think they had a shot at when they started the year out 0-8 and lost multiple starters.

While Liberty might be the feel-good story of the bracket, they likely won’t make it to the second round. The other play-in has a familiar face for the Bruins – UCLA fans will remember Middle Tennessee as one of the teams who beat them in their sloppy start to the 2011-12 season. The Blue Raiders are making their first tournament appearance since 1989 and will have to battle against St. Mary’s, then Memphis and the winner of the Michigan versus Valparaiso game to have any kind of shot at Indianapolis.

The bracket of death moniker is highlighted by the top three teams in this region, whose coaches have a wealth of experience on their side. Between Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and MSU’s Mike Izzo, there’s six national championships – experience that will be tough for anyone to get past.

Compiled by Emma Coghlan, Bruin Sports senior staff. 

Regional Semifinal: Los Angeles

No. 1 seed: Gonzaga

Although the West is still considered one of the weakest regions in the field, the buzz around Gonzaga’s record-breaking season has grabbed attention.

After finishing the season with a 31-2 record, losing only to Butler and Illinois, the Bulldogs earned both the No. 1 seed in the West region and the No. 1 spot in the final AP poll of the season, which was released Monday.

It’s the first time a school from a non-BCS conference has finished at No. 1 since 1996, lending weight to the assertion that this little school from the West Coast Conference might have what it takes to reach the program’s first Final Four.

But the road won’t be easy. They’ll likely have to get past an underrated Pittsburgh squad. Gonzaga’s schedule has been relatively light since it faced Butler two months ago, and they may struggle to adjust to their physicality.

Should Gonzaga advance to the regional, they will likely face either No. 2 Ohio State or No. 3 New Mexico – both teams which could give the Bulldogs trouble, albeit for very different reasons.

Ohio State showed its grit and athleticism in its hard-fought victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, and the offensive power of stalwart Deshaun Thomas and emerging star Aaron Craft is formidable for any opponent.

Meanwhile, the defensively dominant Lobos are coming out of a tough conference schedule with only two losses and a killer Mountain West Championship win highlighted by Tony Snell’s last-minute heroics.

But the real beauty of a weaker conference is the promise, the virtual guarantee, of unpredictability. The Bulldogs are, after all, the No. 1 seed that is likely to fall first, and the region has a number of sleeper teams just waiting to make a name for themselves.

Particularly, chronically underrated No. 10 Iowa State has a real shot at a deep run. The aptly named Cyclones scored the fourth-most points in the NCAA, with 79.6 per game, in additional to making the most 3-pointers. If they continue to score like they have been, the Cyclones may be the surprise breath of fresh air that makes for an exciting March.

Compiled by Liz Schneider, Bruin Sports senior staff.

No. 1 seed: Indiana

Regional Semifinal: Washington, D.C.

Coach Tom Crean was hired in 2008 to bring Indiana basketball back to its roots as a March Madness late-round mainstay. After beating then-No. 1 Kentucky last season, Crean has seen his team and personnel improve exponentially, and now, with his Hoosiers donning a No. 1 seed in the East region, he has the opportunity to make good on this expectation.

While their trek to Atlanta won’t be easy, the Hoosiers breathed a sigh of relief on Selection Sunday. Unless seventh-seeded Illinois can down Colorado, likely Miami and the winner of Marquette versus Butler all in a row, Indiana is assured of not having to play a Big Ten Conference opponent until at least the Final Four.

The Big Ten has been notorious for beating itself to a pulp this season, so the non-conference vacation – and nothing says tropical getaway like Dayton, Ohio – is being welcomed by the East’s No. 1 seed with open arms.

Sitting quietly at the sixth seed in the East is another familiar March Madness face in Butler. The Bulldogs made Cinderella runs to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011, before missing out on the tournament last year. Once the Horizon League darlings, Butler has been overshadowed a bit in a new conference this year by Atlantic Ten frontrunners, St. Louis and Virginia Commonwealth. Led by coach Brad Stevens, who is considered a coveted coaching option should Ben Howland’s UCLA career come to an end this March, the Bulldogs shouldn’t be counted out. Keep in mind they knocked off the West’s No. 1 seed, Gonzaga, earlier this season.

Second-seeded Miami has the offensive firepower and the ACC Championship pedigree to knock off Indiana, and No. 5 seed UNLV is certainly battle-hardened after going toe-to-toe with Mountain West heavyweights all season.

The East region features two Pac-12 teams in Colorado and Cal, neither of whom faced UCLA in last weekend’s Pac-12 tournament.

Fresh off a loss to Pac-12 Conference cellar-dweller Utah to end their stint in Vegas, Cal surprisingly has a very winnable first-round matchup. Though the team will face a strong UNLV squad as a No. 12 seed, Cal is playing a quasi-home game in San Jose, so an upset isn’t out of the question.

There’s no question the Hoosiers are the East’s favorite to head to Atlanta, but the glass slipper is there for the taking, and the ball’s just starting.

Compiled by Andrew Erickson, Bruin Sports senior staff.

No. 1 seed: Kansas

Regional Semifinal: Arlington

For any Bruin fans hoping for easy sledding in the NCAA tournament, don’t count on it. UCLA is the No. 6 seed in the South bracket, which is loaded with talented teams at the top, but more importantly for UCLA fans, recent nemesis Florida at the No. 3 seed.

Should UCLA escape a pesky Minnesota team with a penchant for rebounding that will keep coach Ben Howland up late at night, the Bruins will likely get another date with the vaunted Gators. Florida has beaten Howland’s UCLA teams twice in the Final Four and also in the team’s most recent tournament appearance in 2011. Rubbing salt in the wound, the Bruins will play in Austin, Texas, as opposed to out west like Howland had preferred.

Even looking past Florida, the South boasts national championship runner-up and No. 1 seed Kansas as well as No. 2 Georgetown, which beat UCLA earlier this year. No. 4 seed Michigan also boasts a crop of talented players highlighted by sophomore point guard Trey Burke.

The bracket is full of intrigue. Former Michigan coach Steve Fisher’s San Diego State team checks in as a No. 7 seed. Fisher’s Aztecs also beat the Bruins earlier this season. Meanwhile, one of the names floated around as a potential replacement should Howland be fired is Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart, whose team checks in at the No. 5 seed. Star senior point guard Nate Wolters will try to shoot upset-pick South Dakota State’s way through the tournament, beginning with a showdown against Burke.

One of the most storied programs in college basketball history, North Carolina, checks in as a lowly No. 8 seed in the region. If UNC wins its opening game against No. 8 seed Villanova, the Tar Heels will likely face another one of basketball’s top all-time programs, Kansas. UNC coach Roy Williams was previously the coach at Kansas before leaving for the same position in Chapel Hill.

The South bracket has plenty of storylines and starpower to keep viewers interested, and a rigorous schedule for the Bruins to travel should they keep their season alive.

Compiled by Tyler Drohan, Bruin Sports senior staff.

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Emma Coghlan
Andrew Erickson | Editor in chief
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