Category Archives: college basketball

the show must go on.

IMG_1852For the better part of a year, now, my life has taken some strange and unexpected turns. Yes. You knew that already. Those turns forced me to make many difficult decisions, including choosing to step away from the microphone for the IUPUI Jaguars this season.

As the old saying goes: the show must go on. And it’s going on without me. I’m sad, but I certainly harbor no ill feelings toward anyone. There is no such thing as irreplaceable. I am, in fact, completely and totally replaceable. The Jaguars men’s basketball season started last night without me announcing the opening game for only the third time since 2001. And you know what? The show went on just fine without me.

I made the decision to step away a few months ago when it was clear I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my announcing duties for the upcoming soccer and volleyball seasons. I let the SIDs know well in advance of the seasons to allow time to find replacements, which they did.

For all intents and purposes—and without any official acknowledgement—I believe we all regard these changes to be permanent now, and that’s perfectly understandable. The program needs someone whom they can rely on to be there. My circumstances simply mean I can’t guarantee that.

The show must go on.

With nary a sound nor hint nor any sort of pomp and circumstance, my role as the Jaguars public address announcer has likely come to a close. We parted ways gently and amicably, but the parting seems necessary for all of us to advance on our respective paths. I went out quietly. And I’m okay with that.

Joe & I, working the NCAA Midwest Regional Final.

Joe & I, working the NCAA Midwest Regional Final.


For the better part of the past 12 years, I was IUPUI’s public address announcer for basketball, volleyball, soccer and sometimes softball. I loved (nearly) every minute of it. I met some nice people. I watched a lot of great games. My Jaguars career culminated with being the PA announcer at the NCAA Midwest Regional last year; an experience I’ll never forget and probably never top.

If you went to a Jaguars home game in any of those sports over the past decade or so, chances are you heard my voice. Chances are you probably didn’t even notice me or find anything I did to be remotely out of the ordinary. And that’s just the way I liked it. I was there to augment the experience, not be the focal point.

While I sincerely hope to take up PA announcing again at some level, I think my time with IUPUI is officially done. We thought it was done six years ago, when they honored me (by surprise, I should add) with a plaque and halftime announcement. But I pulled a Keith Jackson and came out of retirement. We ripped down the retired number, so to speak, and plowed forth as though the plaque ceremony never happened.

So what’s different now? Given the fact that my current job search could take me far away from Indianapolis, I don’t think it’s fair to play Russian roulette with the Jags program every year. It’s best to simply pass the baton and move on.

It’s a much quieter exit than the last time, and that’s perfectly fine by me. I don’t think the program needs to waste its budget on another plaque for me. Of course, I hope to have the opportunity to come back once in awhile and serve as a guest PA announcer, if they’ll let me; especially when the Jags move to the Coliseum next season, but that’s not something we need to decide right now.

In the meantime, I’ll reflect on more than 10 memorable years that put me in touch with a lot of really great people. I’m going to miss working with the table crew at our games: Joe the official scorekeeper and I started working together in 2001; Matt Davis, one of the best shot clock operators around; Gary, our most recent shot clock regular (who is also one of the best…and always brought us Taco Bell!); Eggiman, who ran the shot clock a lot in the early days; CD, who ran the scoreboard for most of my time at IUPUI; followed by Mike, who took over the past couple years; and too many interns and assistants to name.

I’ll miss the pre-game chats with the officials and coaches. I’ll miss the random, trivial, in-game conversations with Joe, next to whom I sat for at least 90 percent of the games. I’ll miss the cheerleaders and dance teams. I’ll miss the wonky PA system that usually worked (but not without a fight). I’ll miss sitting along press row at the conference tournaments. I’ll miss the JagBand. I’ll miss giving nicknames to JagBand director David Copeland at every game. I’ll miss “one minute remaining.”

I watched one of the best basketball games I’ll ever see—a triple OT thriller against Oral Roberts (Jags won). I watched George Hill become a pro-caliber basketball player and school too many opponents to count. I saw the legendary Rollie Massimino prowl the sidelines at the Jungle. I watched former head coach Ron Hunter become a national sensation by simply coaching a game in his bare feet. I learned to enjoy the game of soccer from the press box, albeit from a perch so high at Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium that you could look down at the Statue of Liberty. I even had the pleasure of butchering my way through a handful of softball games.

I’ll never forget the first time we played at Conseco Bankers Life Fieldhouse. I’ll never forget the huge weekend in 2007 when we beat Valpo and Oral Roberts in front of a packed house (including a couple Indiana Pacers). I’ll never forget greeting Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan when he came to the Jungle for a pre-Super Bowl basketball game. I’ll never forget calling my first (and only, so far) championship game for the Jaguars last season when the volleyball team won the season championship. All told, it’s been a blast.

IUPUI's game day crew, circa 2008: Eggiman, Buerge, Sherrill, me, Joe & CD.

IUPUI’s game day crew, circa 2008: Eggiman, Buerge, Sherrill, me, Joe & CD.


Individually, thanks to Ed Holdaway, John “JB” Berry, John “JR” Rasmussen, Mike Moore, Kevin Buerge, Billy Potter, Trevor “T-Mac” MacDonald, Scott Taylor and everyone with the program—past and present—at IUPUI who played some part in the opportunity for me to be the Jags PA announcer. I enjoyed working with you all.

Thanks, IUPUI Jaguars. It was a great ride.

But the show must go on.
IUPUI Gang

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Filed under college basketball, IUPUI Jaguars, NCAA, Personal, Uncategorized

“…just like our gym back in hickory…”

About 20 years ago, I was asked to be a PA announcer for a small, NAIA basketball program in northern Indiana. I initially declined, but then decided to give it a shot. Had you told me then I’d one day be the PA announcer at games during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in front of 35,000 screaming fans, I would’ve thought you were nuts. But that’s exactly what happened.

“Are you getting nervous yet?” asked IUPUI Associate Athletic Director Ed Holdaway a few weeks ago at one of our men’s basketball games.

“Not yet,” I told him. “Once I get in the stadium and see the fans, I probably will.”

Joe, Matt, Jess, Mike and I, prior to the Duke-Louisville game.

Joe, Matt, Jess, Mike and I, prior to the Duke-Louisville game.

“Did you bring your tape?”
My pre-game preparation has become something of a running joke with the people at IUPUI. I keep my script on a red clipboard and work off my own version of a scorecard I create and print at home to track fouls, timeouts, jump balls and the score. The scorecard is a specific size because I have them on a separate, black clipboard. I tape down the game-day itinerary to the table in front of me, along with two sets of rosters that are affixed to the table, angled toward each goal. That way I can quickly glance down and not move away from the stick mic in front of me. I perform these rituals at every game. Jess, one of the game-day workers, watched me prepare one day. She was slightly fascinated but mostly bewildered.

At our first meeting with with NCAA reps, Jess, Mike the scoreboard operator and Joe the scorekeeper took turns making fun of me. “Did you bring your tape?” “Do you have your highlighter?” “Do you have your clipboard?” Sadly, the answer is yes, to all of them. I even upped the preparation for this event by printing the script on index cards, so I could flip through and discard when done with them. I also brought silicon earplugs to help tamp down the echos in this cavernous barn.

No, I don’t know why I’m so OCD. I just am.

AA PassPre-game Jitters
Truth is, I was at my highest level of anxiety on the drive to Lucas Oil Stadium Friday afternoon for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Midwest Regional Semifinals. Once I locked in and completed a couple pre-game reads, I was settled down. My nerves were replaced by excitement.

I was remarkably calm when it came time to announce the starting lineups, which is usually when I get nervous; even for IUPUI games. That’s likely because I have to control sound and music as well as announce the games. I’m always paranoid about something malfunctioning (including me). At Lucas Oil Stadium, I was merely an actor in an ensemble cast. Being in constant contact with the game producer and stadium video guys via headset somehow relieved pressure…and taught me how to mentally multitask. As I’m reading my announcements, I’ve got real, actual voices in my head telling me what to do.

I think the jitters subsided mostly because I felt at ease about everything. I rehearsed every word in the script. I reviewed it with the game producers and felt more than prepared for anything that might happen.

NCAA Neutrality
My style for announcing these games was decidedly different than when I work for IUPUI. Inside The Jungle, I’m all about the home team. For the tournament, the NCAA demands neutrality. That really wasn’t a problem at all for me during the semifinal games. I was allowed, however, to incorporate what’s become my signature announcement into the tourney games, my “one minute remaining…ooooonnnnnnnnnneeee minute!” call. It’s not a “homer” call, since I do it the same regardless of the score. And it’s become something the band and cheerleaders have come to enjoy, so I like doing it.

Like Being Shot Out of a Cannon
That’s how I described it to someone. Yes, I was prepared. Yes, I was relaxed. And yes, I was having fun. But once that ball is jumped up, the game is on and you have to be completely focused. At the scorers table, I’m sandwiched between Joe, whose keeping the official book, and Chuck Leonard, the scoreboard operator. The caliber of play at this level is much faster than what we’re used to at IUPUI. So, for about two minutes, we’re all just trying to adjust to the speed, the names, the sounds, the sight lines…everything. It’s a bit of sensory overload.

“This isn’t your first rodeo,” I said to Chuck, who also mans the scoreboard for Colts games.

“Yeah, but this is a different kind of rodeo,” he replied.

By the time we reached our first media timeout, though, everything leveled off. “It’s just like our gym back home in Hickory,” I said to Joe.

Friday Night Re-cap
Everything went off without a hitch. I had TONS of announcements to read, especially at halftime. But I rehearsed them no less than three times each the day before and rested my voice for about 24 hours before the games (and stuck to water and coffee as my only beverages). By the time we started the script for the first game, my voice was sounding good and my throat felt fine. It wasn’t until the next day when I lost my voice a bit and had a scratchy throat. But I rested it for the day so I’d be ready for the championship game.

Joe & I, ready to jump it up.

Joe & I, ready to jump it up.

Championship Sunday
“Enjoy the hell out of this, boys.”

Horizon League Director of Communications Billy Potter said that to Joe and I just ahead of tipoff. The atmosphere in Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night was a bit of bedlam. Of the 34,657 fans in attendance, I’d say all but 3,000 were Louisville fans. It really was a home game for them. And it was LOUD right from the start. I met with game producer Don Lukes before the game and he said I’d probably need to really step it up to compete with the loud environs. Having watched the previous day’s championship games, I already planned on bringing a bit more oomph to it. Unlike Friday night, though, the crowd pretty much drowned me out for a good portion of the night. That’s fine by me, honestly. That’s what you want from the fans. It makes for a better environment.

My favorite moment from Sunday’s game came when I made my final “one minute remaining” announcement. The place went nuts.

In the post game, I was announcing the All Region Team when I was interrupted by Rick Pitino to get a chant of “Ke-vin, Ke-vin, Ke-vin” going. When it started, I turned to my producer and joked, “this is for me, right?” Of course, we know why Pitino did this.

Kevin Ware
I did not see Ware’s injury when it happened. I saw players collapsing on the floor and thought, “what just happened?” Their faces a combination of shock, horror and disgust. I looked over and saw a player (I couldn’t tell which one) lying on the floor. Then I see Chane Behanan writhing on the floor. I see Russ Smith, his face frozen in horrified silence.

As medical staff tended to Ware, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and his assistants had to get the players to regain composure. Not only because they had to finish playing the game, but because one of their teammates was seriously hurt. “That’s your teammate over there,” I heard Pitino say to his players. “He wants to talk to you.”

Around that same time, Pitino turned to wipe tears from his eyes. Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski was toeing the mid-court line when Pitino walked toward him. “What happened?” Krzyzewski asked. “He broke his leg,” Pitino replied. Coach K’s face sunk. “I’m sorry,” he replied and both men went back to their benches.

In this moment, I felt I was watching a very classy gesture from Krzyzewski and one of Pitino’s best coaching efforts ever. He had to get his Louisville players back into game mode after watching a gruesome injury that sickened some people who witnessed it.

Once everyone got back into game mode, it was shaping up to be a classic. But Louisville was just too much. They were unstoppable in the second half. I’m not sure anyone can beat them.

My brother snapped this photo off TV to give you an idea of where I was sitting for the game. I wasn't lying about having the best seat in the house.

My brother snapped this photo off TV to give you an idea of where I was sitting for the game. I wasn’t lying about having the best seat in the house.

‘Til We Meet Again
When the game ended and we wrapped up the scripted portion of the night, I took off my headset and exhaled. I was happy, satisfied and a bit drained (more mentally, than anything). But I was filled with a sense of accomplishment and appreciation. No one will ever remember the PA announcer at this event, and that’s fine. But thousands of people will remember this game for years and I can say I played one, small part in it. Without a doubt, I enjoyed the hell out of it.

The 2014 Midwest Regional Championship will be held in Indianapolis again next year. Here’s to hoping I have an opportunity to do this again.

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my very own sweet sixteen party.

In Focus...Rick Pitino's top-seeded Louisville Cardinals will play the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks Thursday night in Indianapolis.

In Focus…Rick Pitino’s top-seeded Louisville Cardinals will play the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks Thursday night in Indianapolis.

We started with 68 on Tuesday, and now we’re down to the Sweet Sixteen™. Now that the field is set, I have the itinerary of games for next weekend’s Midwest Regional games for which I’ll be the PA announcer at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Game 1
(1) Louisville Cardinals vs.
(12) Oregon Ducks
Friday, 29 March 2013 | Tip-off: 7:15 p.m. EDT
Television: CBS

Game 2
(3) Michigan State Spartans vs.
(2) Duke Blue Devils
Friday, 29 March 2013 | Tip-off: 9:45 p.m. EDT
Television: CBS

Game 3
Louisville/Oregon vs.
Michigan State/Duke
Sunday, 31 March 2013 | Tip-off: TBD
Television: TBD

Am I nervous? Not yet. I’m excited. This regional features college basketball royalty: Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo. I’m most looking forward to the Duke-Michigan State game. That will be like a championship game all by itself. The game will also feature a kid from my hometown of Bay City, Michigan, freshman Matt Costello. Not sure if he’ll get in the game or not, but it’s kinda cool.

I expect these games to be well attended. Louisville fans will make the short trip from Kentucky, no doubt. Sparty fans and Duke fans travel well, too. I have no idea how many Oregon fans will make the trip, but their Ducks should give Louisville a run for their money.

Prior to this weekend, the largest event I’ve ever worked was in front of 4,000 – 5,000 people over at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Lucas Oil Stadium will be set up to hold 45,000 for these games. That is a HUGE crowd!

But I’m not nervous…yet. 🙂

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march madness is here!

Things to do today:
* Watch college basketball
* Watch college basketball at the NCAA headquarters
* Watch college basketball at home
* Fall asleep watching college basketball (at home…not at the NCAA headquarters. That would be bad)

It’s no secret the first two rounds of the NCAA National Championship Tournament (well, second and third rounds, technically) are my favorites. Why? Because it’s NONSTOP BASKETBALL! And it’s within this first weekend of basketball that upsets are most likely to occur. I’ve got a few upsets picked along the way, but not as many as I need, I imagine. I think the biggest upset I’ve got on my bracket is Minnesota beating UCLA. But is it really an upset when one of UCLA’s best players is out with injury?

The Bracket
As I mentioned, the bracket is already complete. No, I do not wager any money or partake in any pools. It’s purely for fun. I’ve been filling out a bracket every year for the past 23 or 24 years. My best year was 2001. I picked three of the Final Four teams, the championship game and the National Champion. That’s all I remember. I don’t even remember who won…oh wait, it was Duke (yes, I cheated and looked it up).

Write Right
Before I go to the NCAA, I’ve got a couple other things to knock out at home. I’d like to wrap up a couple writing projects as well as retool my resume. The resume may have to wait another day.

Brrrrr!
The word on the street is we were up around 80-degree weather this time last year. We’ll be lucky if we break 32° today.

Warming Up the Pipe
I’ll be gearing up for the NCAA National Championship Tournament Midwest Regional Semifinals, which will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium here in Indianapolis. Oh yeah, did I mention I’ll be the PA announcer at those games? While I have no rooting interest in the teams in the Midwest Region, I’m really hoping to see the top seeds advance. It might be the most competitive of the four regions. Either way, it’s going to be fun next weekend.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your Thursday, kids!

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bracketology breakdown: cardinals, jayhawks, hoosiers and zags…oh my!

NCAA_FinalFourLogoOnce Indiana fans get over the disappointment of not locking down the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, they’ll quickly realize it’s probably for the best. Louisville may be the overall No. 1 team in the tournament, but they also have one of the toughest roads to the Final Four. Look at the top four seeds in the Midwest Region:
* Louisville
* Duke
* Michigan State
* Saint Louis

Three of those teams are championship caliber programs every year.

Hoosiers Begrudgingly Decamped East
The East Region, where the Hoosiers will be playing, is no slouch. Indiana, Miami, New Mexico and Syracuse are competitive, but Syracuse has a propensity to lose very winnable games. Then again, same goes for Indiana and Miami. Steve Alford’s Lobos could be the dark horse in this region.

Rock Choke Chalk JayHawk
Even though I thought Duke was a No. 1 seed, I can’t argue with Kansas earning the top seed in the South Region. They seem to be completely over whatever was ailing them in the middle of the season and are poised to dominate this bracket. For my money, Florida is the least deserving No. 3 seed in the field. They won the SEC regular season—and lost to Ole Miss in the postseason tournament—in a very, very weak year for the SEC.

Zags Already on Upset Watch
If you want a possible major upset, look to the West Region. Gonzaga has a very tough road ahead of them, with Ohio State, Marquette and Kansas State looming. I don’t think we’ll see a No. 1 seed fall to a No. 16 this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pitt or Wichita State take out the Zags.

In the end, I correctly picked 10 of the top seeds:
No. 1 – 3/4
No. 2 – 3/4
No. 3 – 2/4
No. 4 – 2/4

I would’ve been perfect on the top two lines, but I felt Duke still deserved No. 1 over Kansas. I still think Syracuse and Kansas State deserve higher seedings over Florida.

I had 15 of the same 16 teams as the selection committee. The only difference: I gave Memphis a No. 4 seed over Marquette because the Tigers won both their regular season and conference tournaments. Why would I do that? Because, unlike the committee, I do not view the Big East through a romantic prism that allows me to believe a third-place Big East team is better than a top-ranked team that wins both its regular season and tournament championships.

If I’m going to give Gonzaga a No. 1 seed—and that is still a very weak No. 1 seed—I can’t discard a Memphis team that has a similar resume as the Zags. Unlike the committee, I was consistent.

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bracketology prediction: hoosiers no. 1 in the midwest. period.

Indiana's junior guard Victor Oladipo.

Junior guard Victor Oladipo scored 21 points in IU’s 75-70 win over Michigan State on Jan. 27. The Hoosiers travel to East Lansing Tuesday night in a battle between the B1G’s two first-place teams.

All the guessing, politicking and pontificating ends in two hours. We’ll know who’s playing where and who’s No. 1. All four No. 1s. I’m not saying I’m absolutely correct. I may be completely wrong, but if I were in that room with the selection committee, this would be my opening salvo.

No. 1 Seeds
Louisville — East
Indiana — Midwest
Duke — South
Gonzaga — West

Yeah, a lot of people are calling for the Cardinals to get the Midwest top seed, but why? They beat two teams that previous beat them. Indiana has three quality road wins against ranked teams (Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan). Hoosiers in the Midwest, Louisville gets the East.

I rejected the urge to place Kansas No. 1 in the South. I suppose it could still happen, what with the Jayhawks winning the Big 12 conference tournament while Duke choked in the ACC. Nevertheless, Duke’s done enough to keep a top seed.

And Gonzaga is my justification for it all. While all the experts are shifting and shuffling Indiana, Duke and Louisville around—praising/punishing them for postseason performance, why are the Zags too sacrosanct? Because they’re 30-2? Because they’re ranked No. 1 by the AP and USA Today?

Everyone agrees Gonzaga is the weakest No. 1 seed in the field, yet no one will dare move them. Sorry, “experts.” Not all wins and losses were created equal. If we’re going to keep the Zags No. 1 in the West, we keep Indiana No. 1 in the Midwest. End of story.

No. 2 Seeds
Ohio State — East
Georgetown — Midwest
Kansas — South
Miami — West

I may know nothing about the regions, but I think I’m right in the seedings. Ohio State show itself to be the best second-place team in the toughest basketball conference in the nation. They earned their No. 2 seeding.

Georgetown and Miami, at one time, might’ve been No. 1 seeds. They’ve had too many bad losses along the way.

For Kansas, a No. 2 in the South is sort of a 1a seeding. The Jayhawks are the best No. 2 seed.

No. 3 Seeds
Michigan State — East
New Mexico — Midwest
Syracuse — South
Kansas State — West

Any one of these teams can cause real trouble in the tournament…for themselves as much as their opponents. Sparty might be the strongest of the four, but New Mexico and Kansas State will be strong challengers in their brackets. Syracuse? Depends on which team shows up.

No. 4 Seeds
Michigan — East
St. Louis — Midwest
Memphis — South
Florida — West

St. Louis is going to be a real dark horse in this tournament. They play in a very competitive conference, but got smoked by Kansas early in the year. How they’re playing now—15-1 down the stretch—is important.

I’m not sold on Florida being a bona fide No. 4 seed, but given the performance of teams around them, this Gators backed into this seed. I’ve never been convinced of Florida’s prowess this season anyway.

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march madness round-up: hoosiers, louisville charge to no. 1 seeds; duke chokes away the east.

Victor Oladipo's 360-dunk was the exclamation point on Indiana's 80-64 win over Illinois in the B1G quarterfinals.

Victor Oladipo’s 360-dunk was the exclamation point on Indiana’s 80-64 win over Illinois in the B1G quarterfinals.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament Selection Committee is not so unlike a papal conclave. They meet behind closed doors and no one truly knows their process. But when they exit their respective conclaves, their decisions are met with great anticipation and fascination. And criticism.

With the power conferences still playing their postseason tournaments, one wonders how much (or how little) consequence a team’s performance will factor into their Big Dance™ chances.

Hoosiers Punch Their Ticket
Heading into the B1G’s conference tournament, the conventional wisdom was Indiana needed to win at least one game to lock down the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region. The Hoosiers knocked off Illinois 80-64, so mission accomplished, right?

Duke Pukes On Itself, Heads South
Ahead of the ACC tournament, the Duke Blue Devils were being considered a consensus No. 1 team. And then they go and throw up all over themselves, losing to Maryland 83-74. According to ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan, that knocks Duke out of No. 1 in the East Region, The Blue Devils will still get a No. 1 seed, but their road to the Final Four now goes through Dallas in the South Region.

Cardinals Head East
So who gets that No. 1 seed in the East? Louisville. The Cardinals are playing for the final Big East tournament championship tomorrow and are, quite possibly the hottest team playing right now.

Bubble Wrapped (Alt. Headline: Commodore 64 Bursts Kentucky’s Bubble)
Seeded No. 2 in the SEC tournament, conventional wisdom stated Kentucky did enough to get off the bubble and into the Big Dance. And then they lost to Vanderbilt, 64-48. The defending champion (in name only, really) Wildcats finish the season 21-11 and 12-6 in a weak, watered down conference. My guess is they make the tournament as a No. 12 seed, but wouldn’t it be awesome if they were in a play-in game? Hey, a Hoosiers fan can hope, no?

Here’s my seeding breakdown, as of right now. No it’s not very scientific at all. I used my own system of hunches and superstitions.

No. 1 Seeds
Louisville — East
Indiana — Midwest
Duke — South
Gonzaga — West

No. 2 Seeds
Ohio State / Michigan State — East
Georgetown — Midwest
Miami — South
Kansas / Kansas State — West

No. 3 Seeds
Ohio State / Michigan State — East
St. Louis — Midwest
Syracuse — South
Kansas / Kansas State — West

No. 4 Seeds
Michigan — East
UCLA — Midwest
Memphis — South
Florida — West

Possible No. 4 Seeds
New Mexico
Wisconsin

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