Sports
11:08 am
Sun March 17, 2013

WKU #16 Seed in South Region, Will Take on Kansas Jayhawks in NCAA Tourney

Update at 9:00 a.m.:

The WKU-Kansas game will tip-off at 8:50 p.m. Friday in Kansas City, Mo. The game will be aired on TNT.

Original post:

The WKU Hilltoppers are headed to Kansas City, Mo., to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Hilltoppers are the #16 seed in the South Region, and will be a heavy underdog against the Big 12 tournament champion Jayhawks, the region's #1 seed.

The 20-15 Hilltoppers received an automatic bid to the Big Dance after winning the Sun Belt conference championship last week. This will mark WKU's second straight NCAA appearance.

The Hilltoppers won their first-round matchup last season before losing to eventual national champion Kentucky.

Things didn't turn out so well for the Wildcats this year, however, as UK was left out of the tournament.

The Louisville Cardinals are the overall #1 seed in this year's tournament, and won't have far to go for their first-round game Thursday against the winner of the North Carolina A&T-Liberty game. The Cards will play in Lexington, and are being picked by many college basketball analysts as the favorite to win this year's championship.

The Big East conference tournament champs will be seeking to win U of L's third national title. The Cards won it all in 1986 and 1980.

Update at 5:16 p.m.:

WKU will play Kansas in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday in Kansas City. The 20-15 Hilltoppers are the #16 seed in the South Region. The Kansas Jayhawks are the Big 12 tournament champions.

Update at 5:06 p.m.:

The Louisville Cardinals are the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. The Cards will play the winner of the North Carolina A&T-Liberty matchup Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

Assuming the Cards win that game, they would play the winner of the Missouri-Colorado St. game in the next round.

Original post:

If you're a basketball fan, this is one of the special days of the year. Selection Sunday is upon us--the day we find out which teams are in the NCAA tournament, which teams are out, and who plays when and where. Here's a quick breakdown of where things stand for four basketball teams in the commonwealth who will be closely watching their televisions this evening along with much of the rest of the nation:

WKU Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers are in the Big Dance--this much we know. WKU's victory in the Sun Belt Conference championship gave the Tops an automatic bid for the second straight season. What we don't know is what seed WKU will receive.

Most projections have the 20-15 Hilltoppers receiving either a #16 or #15 seed. Either of those will mean an extremely tough first-round matchup. ESPN's Joe Lunardi, who is the acknowledged expert of all things involving NCAA brackets, has the Tops as a 15-seed playing the Georgetown Hoyas in Philadelphia.

WKU will be hosting a watch party for the NCAA Tournament Selection Show at E.A. Diddle Arena Sunday. Doors open at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, and the Selection Show will air on the video boards beginning at 5:00 p.m. Team introductions will take place at approximately 4:40.

Louisville Cardinals

If there's a team from the commonwealth that appears ready to make a deep NCAA run, it's the Big East champion Cardinals. The Cards ended the season winning 11 of 12 games--with the one loss a five-overtime defeat at Notre Dame. Louisville won the Big East championship Saturday night after being down by 16 points in the second half to Syracuse.

The Cards will undoubtedly start their quest for the school's third national championship with a #1 seed. They're one of the nation's deepest teams, and their relentless defensive pressure leads to lots of turnovers and easy baskets. They have a veteran backcourt featuring the Big East tournament's Most Outstanding Player, senior Peyton Siva, and junior Russ Smith.

Don't be surprised if Louisville winds up with the NCAA tournament's #1 overall seed, something that would likely put the Cards in Lexington for their first two games of the Big Dance.

Kentucky Wildcats

The defending national champion Wildcats find themselves in an unusual place Selection Sunday--sitting at home wondering if they'll get an invitation.

The Cats didn't help their cause with a blowout loss to Vanderbilt Saturday in the SEC tournament. Kentucky hasn't been the same it lost its star freshman Nerlens Noel to a season-ending knee injury. Kentucky, with a 21-11 record, has only the 76th strongest strength of schedule in the nation, something that won't help UK's case for a tournament bid. 

An NCAA tournament without the Wildcats may seem like a day without the sun, but that looks like a very real possibility. Joe Lunardi's latest projections have UK on the outside looking in this NCAA postseason.

Murray State Racers

Murray State is another Bluegrass State team that could find itself left out of the Big Dance despite a 20-plus win season. The 21-10 Racers lost to Belmont by two points in the Ohio Valley Conference championship. Without the automatic bid that would have come with an OVC title win, the Racers are left hoping for an at-large bid.

Here are two numbers that won't help their cause: 198 and 151. The first is Murray State's strength of schedule ranking. The second number is the collective strength of schedule of the Racers' opponents this season. The most likely outcome for Murray State is in invitation to the NIT, where they could have a very real chance of knocking off some larger-conference teams.