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March 17, 2008

Monday with Mike: KU has best of both worlds

REGIONAL ANALYSIS: East | Midwest | South | West
FIRST-ROUND CAPSULES: East | Midwest | South | West
MORE: View the complete NCAA bracket | Print an NCAA Bracket | Play Tourney Pick'em

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).

The only BCS game not represented in the NCAAs: the title game between LSU and Ohio State.

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

  • Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg was miffed that his team, which finished fourth in the ACC standings, was left out of the field. "I think the tournament does need to at least look at expanding; it's that simple," he told reporters Sunday. Actually, what's simple, coach, is beating good teams. You do that and you'll get in. The Hokies were 19-13 overall, had an RPI of 53rd, were 1-7 vs. teams in the RPI top 50 and had 13 wins over teams whose RPI was 125th or worse. Tech also had four losses to teams ranked 103rd or worse in the RPI. That's simply not that good a resume.

  • If you go by the seeding, the last team in the field was Villanova, a No. 12 seed. The other three No. 12s were automatic qualifiers. All the No. 11 seeds were at-large picks: Baylor, Kansas State, Kentucky and Saint Joseph's.

  • Six teams who finished in the RPI top 50 were left out of the NCAA field, led by No. 32 Dayton and No. 33 Illinois State. The others: No. 42 Massachusetts, No. 46 Creighton, No. 48 Ole Miss and No. 49 Ohio State.

  • The highest-ranked RPI team to ever to be left out is No. 21 Missouri State, in 2006. (Georgia was No. 5 in the RPI in 2004, but the school self-imposed an NCAA ban, and thus isn't considered here.)

  • Nine top-50 RPI teams were left out last season, with the highest being No. 30 Air Force. Of the nine left out, four were from "Big Six" conferences. In 2006, seven top-50 teams were left out, with three from "Big Six" conferences.

  • Drake's bid from the Missouri Valley means that every team in that league has earned at least one bid to the NCAA tourney in the past decade. The only other leagues that can make that claim are the ACC and SEC. At the same time, Drake's bid was the only one received by the MVC; that's the first time since 1998 that the league received just one bid.

  • The highest-ranked team left out of all the postseason tournaments this season was No. 69 IUPUI, which finished 26-7 but didn't get an invitation to the NIT or the new College Basketball Invitational. "I guess for a team like ours, we've got to win 30 games or win the conference tournament," coach Ron Hunter told the Indianapolis Star. "That's the cruel part of life."

    Grid bits

  • Under a new five-year contract signed last week, LSU's Les Miles becomes the highest-paid coach in the SEC. Miles will earn at least $3.75 million, plus $1,000 a year. The "plus" comes into play because the deal says Miles will be paid no less than the highest-paid coach at a public university in the conference, plus $1,000. Alabama's Nick Saban is guaranteed $3.75 million annually.

  • Georgia's Mark Richt recently received an $800,000 raise; he now will make $2.8 million annually.

  • Good news for Oregon State in that WR Sammie Stroughter, who battled depression and a kidney injury last season, was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA and will be eligible this fall.

  • Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley, 39, recently added the athletic director title to his duties. Not a bad career path for a guy who two years ago at this time was the tight ends coach of the Miami Dolphins.

  • John Weatherford watched his older brothers, Drew and Joe, sign scholarships with Florida State and UCF, respectively. John thought his college chances were gone when he blew out his knee last August preparing for his senior season in high school in Land O'Lakes, Fla. But he rehabbed his knee and last week signed with Division II West Georgia. West Georgia's coach? Daryl Dickey, who was Drew's quarterback coach at Florida State for three seasons.

  • They're no longer the Arkansas State Indians. The school announced that starting this fall, its athletic teams will be known as the Red Wolves.

    REGIONAL ANALYSIS: East | Midwest | South | West
    FIRST-ROUND CAPSULES: East | Midwest | South | West
    MORE: View the complete NCAA bracket | Print an NCAA Bracket | Play Tourney Pick'em

    Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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