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Big East domination: UConn, Pitt, Louisville among top seeds

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - The Big East dominated the top seeds for the NCAA Tournament, garnering three of the possible four spots, as Louisville, Pittsburgh and Connecticut, along with North Carolina were installed as the top seeds for the 2009 event.

Louisville (28-5), the reigning Big East regular season and tourney champions, are on a 10-game winning streak. The Cardinals were selected as the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament and will play out of the Midwest Region against the winner of the opening-round game between SWAC champion Alabama State or Morehead State, the Ohio Valley title winners. Louisville's first-round game will be in Dayton on Friday.

Pittsburgh (28-4) was beaten by West Virginia in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament. The Panthers are seeded first in the East and will play in Dayton against Atlantic Sun champion East Tennessee State.

This marks the first time in school history that the Panthers are seeded No. 1 for the tournament. It's also the first time in tournament history that one league has produced three No. 1 seeds.

"It's a great thing, but it doesn't really mean anything at this point," said Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon. "It's an accomplishment. We have to play good basketball for a long period of time, but at the same time, there are 65 teams all thinking that they can win the national championship. We got what we needed from it, it's done, and now we look past to other things."

Connecticut (27-4), which lost a six-overtime thriller to Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals, is the top seed in the West. The Huskies drew Chattanooga, the Southern champions, with that first-round game to take place in Philadelphia on Thursday.

The Tar Heels (28-4), who will play out of the South Region, were beaten by Florida State in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament on Saturday. This is the 13th time UNC has earned a top seed, a tourney record. The Tar Heels will take on Big South winner Radford on Thursday in Greensboro.

"We are ecstatic to be in the tournament as a number one seed," said UNC coach Roy Williams. "Our body of work for the season has been very good and we appreciate that the NCAA selection committee recognized and rewarded us for that."

This is the ninth No. 1 seed for Williams, the second-most for any coach in history. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is first with 10.

Memphis (31-3), last year's runner-up in the NCAA Tournament and coming off its fourth straight Conference USA tourney title, will go into the NCAA tourney on a 25-game win streak, but the Tigers were denied a No. 1 seed. Memphis, which hasn't lost since a 72-65 setback to Syracuse on December 20, earned a No. 2 seed in the West Region and will play Big West winners Cal State-Northridge on Thursday in Kansas City.

Kansas, the defending national champions, is seeded third in the Midwest and will play North Dakota State, the Summit League champions, Friday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Arizona extended its streak to 25 straight appearances in the tourney, as the Wildcats were given a No. 12 seed in the Midwest with a first-round game against WAC winner Utah. That contest will be Friday in Miami.

Michigan State is seeded second in the Midwest and will play Robert Morris in the first round. Also in the Midwest Region, fourth seed Wake Forest will tangle with Cleveland State. Sixth-seeded West Virginia battles Dayton, while No. 7 Boston College plays Southern California. The 8-9 matchup has Ohio State playing Siena.

Other matchups in the West have No. 3 Missouri tangling with Ivy champion Cornell, fourth seed Washington playing Mississippi State, fifth seed Purdue going against Northern Iowa, Marquette facing Utah State; California battling Maryland; while BYU takes on Texas A&M in the 8-9 matchup.

In the East, No. 2 seed Duke, the ACC tourney champion, faces Binghamton. Other matchups have Villanova against American, Xavier taking on Portland State, Florida State playing Wisconsin, UCLA going against VCU, Texas playing Minnesota, and Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee in the 8-9 contest.

Elsewhere in the South, No. 2 seed Oklahoma plays Morgan State, Syracuse faces Stephen F. Austin, Gonzaga plays Akron, Illinois will battle Western Kentucky, Arizona State goes against Atlantic 10 champion Temple, Clemson faces Michigan, while the 8-9 matchup has LSU playing Butler.

Kentucky, which had been to the NCAA Tournament for 17 straight seasons, dating back to 1992, was denied a bid this season after finishing with a 20-13 record.

Other teams left out include San Diego State (23-9), Creighton (26-7), UAB (22-11), Illinois State (24-9), Auburn (22-11), Saint Mary's (26-6) and Penn State (22-11).

The Big East, ACC and Big Ten led the way with seven teams each in the field, followed by the Big 12 and Pac-10 with six apiece. The SEC got just three teams.

"Obviously, we are very proud and pleased to be the first conference to receive three No. 1 seeds," said Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese. "Now comes the hard part. We have to play games against some terrific opposition. I know our coaches and players will be ready to compete. We wish them well."

The East Regional shifts to Boston, while the Midwest third and fourth rounds will be in Indianapolis. The South Regional will be in Memphis, while Glendale will host the West Regional.

The Final Four teams will battle at Ford Field on April 4, with the national championship game to be held on Monday, April 6.

03/15 21:31:53 ET


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