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March 17, 2008
If Gainesville, Fla., was the center of the college sports universe last year at this time ? Florida was the reigning champ in both football and basketball and ended up winning its second basketball title in a row ? that designation belongs to Lawrence, Kan., this year.
Kansas is the only school that appeared in a BCS game in January to also hold a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In all, five of the 10 schools that appeared in a BCS bowl also are in the NCAA tourney: Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, USC and West Virginia. All but OU won their bowls, and all but Georgia are seeded in the top half of the NCAA bracket (a No. 8 seed or better).
Of the 64 schools who appeared in bowl games, 22 ? a bit more than a third ? also are in the NCAA tourney; it's the aforementioned quintet plus Arkansas, Boise State, BYU, Clemson, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Oregon, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and Wisconsin. All but North Carolina among the No. 1 seeds also was in a bowl.
BYU, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Oregon, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas, USC and West Virginia are the 11 schools that could win a bowl and win an NCAA Tournament game.
Where's the little guy?
For the second season in a row, just six of the 34 at-large bids went to non-"Big Six" conference schools. Only once this decade has the number been lower; five non-"Big Six" schools received bids in 2001.
Here's a season-by-season look at the at-large participants from non-"Big Six" leagues (this does not include the automatic qualifiers from those leagues):
2000: 11 teams, five tourney wins, one team (No. 7 Tulsa, from the WAC) to the Elite Eight.
2001: five teams, four tourney wins, one team (No. 5 Cincinnati, from C-USA) to the Sweet 16.
2002: seven teams, four wins, one team (No. 11 Southern Illinois, from the MVC) to the Sweet 16.
2003: 10 teams, seven wins, one team (No. 3 Marquette, from C-USA) to the Final Four and one team (No. 12 Butler, from Horizon) to the Sweet 16.
2004: 11 teams, six wins, one team (No. 1 Saint Joseph's, from the A-10) to the Elite Eight and one team (No. 9 UAB, from C-USA) to the Sweet 16.
2005: nine teams, seven wins, one team (No. 6 Utah, from the Mountain West) to the Sweet 16.
2006: Eight teams, nine wins, one team (No. 11 George Mason, from the Colonial) to the Final Four and two teams (No. 7 Wichita State and No. 13 Bradley, both from the MVC) to the Sweet 16.
2007: six teams, six wins, two teams (No. 4 Southern Illinois, from the MVC, and No. 5 Butler, from Horizon) to Sweet 16.
Thus, this decade and including this season, there have been 73 at-large bids given to non-"Big Six" teams. Those teams have combined to win 48 games, with two Final Four berths, two other Elite Eight berths and eight other Sweet 16 berths.
This decade and including this season, there have been 262 at-large berths given to "Big Six" schools. Those teams have combined to win 283 games (156 wins in the first four seasons of this decade, 127 in the past four).
The biggest difference, of course, is the seeding given to the teams. Of the 73 bids to the non-"Big Six" schools, 27 have been in the top half of the bracket (an "8" seed or better), including six as No. 4 seeds of better. This season alone, the "Big Six" conferences have nine at-large teams seeded No. 4 or better.
Some selection Sunday leftovers