INDIANAPOLIS – College basketball fans in the Hoosier State will have no shortage of teams to cheer for in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
A handful of teams from Indiana, highlighted by Notre Dame, made the 68-team field for the BIg Dance as pairings were announced Sunday night.
The Irish, who beat North Carolina Saturday night to win the ACC Tournament title, earned a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region. Notre Dame, which also beat Duke in the ACC tourney semifinals, will face No. 14 seed Northeastern (23-11) in a second round game Thursday in Pittsburgh. The Irish are 29-5.
The Midwest Region also includes Indiana, Purdue, Butler and Valparaiso.
The Hoosiers, a No. 10 seed, face No. 7 seeded Wichita State (28-4) on Friday in Omaha. Coach Tom Crean’s team is 20-13.
Purdue, which lost in the Big Ten semifinals Saturday to eventual champion Wisconsin, earned a No. 9 seed. The Boilermakers (21-12) will face No. 8 seed Cincinnati (22-10) on Thursday in Louisville. The winner of that game will face Kentucky, barring the upset of the century. The Wildcats will face the winner of the Hampton-Manhattan game in its first test in the tourney.
Butler will take a Np. 6 seed and a 22-11 record into a meeting with No. 11 seed Texas (20-13) on Thursday in Pittsburgh. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Notre Dame-Northeasten contest.
Valparaiso earned a No. 13 seed at 28-5 and will play No. 4 seed Maryland (27-6) on Friday in Columbus.
SMU, led by former Warsaw star Nic Moore, will face UCLA on Thursday in Louisville. The Mustangs beat UConn 62-54 Sunday to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament title as Moore scored 11 points.
SMU, coached by Larry Brown, is a No. 6 seed at 27-6 and is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1993. UCLA, where Brown coached at one time, is a No. 11 seed at 20-13.
Undefeated and No. 1 ranked Kentucky is the overall No. 1 seed for the tourney. The Wildcats are the top seed in the Midwest Region and are 34-0 after winning the SEC Tournament title Sunday. The Wildcats are looking to become the first undefeated national champion since Indiana did so in 1976.
The three other No. 1 seeds are Wisconsin (31-3) in the West, Villanova (32-2) in the East and Duke (29-4) in the South. Wisconsin rallied to beat Michigan State 80-69 in overtime Sunday to win the Big Ten Tournament title in Chicago.
The tournament begins Tuesday night with a pair of first-round games as Manhattan plays Hampton and BYU faces Mississippi. The other first-round games are Wednesday with Boise State facing Dayton and Robert Morris taking on North Florida.
The Big Ten had seven times receive bids, tied for the most with the Big 12. Big Ten teams in the field are Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa.
The tourney semifinals are April 4 and the national championship game April 6, all in Indianapolis.