March 14, 2010

Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Syracuse have earned No. 1 seeds for the NCAA tournament.

No. 1 Kansas, seeking its second national championship in three years, won the Big 12 tournament on Saturday by beating Kansas State and enters the tournament at 32-2. The Jayhawks are a No. 1 seed for the third time in four years.

Kentucky, which knocked off Mississippi State 75-74 in overtime to win the SEC tournament in Nashville, is 32-2 under first-year coach John Calipari after missing the NCAA tournament last year.

Duke shared the ACC regular season with Maryland and won the ACC tournament with a 65-61 win over Georgia Tech.

There was speculation when Syracuse lost its first game in the Big East tournament to Georgetown that the Orange might lose their chance at a No. 1 seed, but their 28-4 record and regular season Big East championship proved to be enough for the selection committee.

If the seeds hold, Kansas will face Syracuse in one national semifinal, with Duke and Kentucky playing in the other.

Kansas is in the Midwest Region and will face No. 16 seed Lehigh on Thursday in Oklahoma City. The No. 2 seed in the Midwest is Big Ten champ Ohio State.

Syracuse, the West's No. 1 seed, opens the tournament Friday in nearby Buffalo against Vermont. Kansas State is the No. 2 seed in the West.

Kentucky will open against East Tennessee State on Thursday in New Orleans in the East Region. West Virginia, which was considered a possible No. 1 seed after winning the Big East tournament, is the No. 2.

Duke plays the winner of Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop on Friday in Jacksonville, with Villanova holding the No. 2 seed in the South Region.

Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, a No. 1 seed has been crowned national champion in 15 of the 25 tournaments, including the last three. Duke has been a No. 1 seed 10 times during that span, winning the national title in 1992 and 2001.

Kansas and Kentucky are in a familiar role. This is the ninth time the Jayhawks have been a No. 1 seed since 1985, and KU won the 2008 national championship as a No. 1 seed. KU struggled in the 1990s as a No. 1 seed, never advancing past the Sweet 16 despite being a top seed four times.

Kentucky claimed its eighth No. 1 seed since 1985 and won the 1996 national championship as a No. 1 seed. The last time the Wildcats were a No. 1 seed, Tubby Smith's team was upset by UAB in the second round in 2004.

This is the first time Syracuse has been a No. 1 seed since the tournament went to 64 teams. The Orange won the 2003 national championship as a No. 3 seed.

Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Rhode Island and Illinois were teams that likely were the closest to making the NCAA tournament without getting invited. The highest seeded at-large bids went to UTEP and Utah State.

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