It was two different Selection Sundays for the two greatest men's college basketball programs in the history of the
First off, one of the teams was anointed, not selected.
"Those aren't the nets we're really looking to cut down," forward Willie Cauley-Stein said afterward. "We're looking for something bigger."
Kentucky is 34-0 and six wins shy of the first 40-0 season in the history of the sport. The Wildcats seek to become the first undefeated
At the other end of the bracket, to the consternation of some,
The Bruins, winners of a record 11 national titles, in the 20th anniversary year of their last, were thrilled to avoid a play-in (first round) midweek game in Dayton, Ohio.
Instead, they will play Thursday in
The Bruins ranked No. 42 on the selection committee's seeding list of 68. That's not great for a program of its pedigree, but terrific for one that had a suitcase packed for the NIT.
Kentucky is this year's steamroller. As for UCLA, selection committee Chairman Scott Barnes put it this way during an interview televised on CBS: "We felt like they were gaining steam."
Sunday's announcement produced the usual headlines and hiccups.
The last four teams in were Dayton,
Barnes said Wyoming's unexpected bid steal by winning the
The committee ranked the top four schools in this order, in these regions: Kentucky (Midwest),
Arizona made a case for top spot in the West after it throttled
Virginia actually came in No. 5 in the seeding order, with Arizona at six.
Arizona is No. 2 in the West and will open Thursday in Portland against
West Coast basketball, particularly in the Southland, was down this season but actually rallied late with advances by UCLA and UC Irvine.
The Anteaters earned their first NCAA bid by defeating
The positive news is Irvine got a time-zone gift, opening Friday in the Seattle pod, which should make travel more comfortable for 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye.
The No. 13 team holds a 25-95 record against No. 4 since the tournament expanded in 1985, but Louisville might be vulnerable following the recent disciplinary dismissal of Chris Jones.
Louisville's woeful three-point shooting — the Cardinals rank No. 309 nationally at 30.4% — could also pose a problem against Irvine's zone and the inside presence of Ndiaye.
UCLA got paired, if not on purpose then at least hilariously, against
Also in the field is former UCLA Coach Steve Lavin, now at
Conspicuously missing is
Connecticut came up one game short, losing Sunday's title game to SMU.
Florida, another Final Four team from last year, will also be watching from home after finishing 16-17.
This might be a good time to dispense some fun facts before Kentucky takes its show on the road:
Hampton's entry, at 16-17, marks the fourth straight year the field has a team with a losing record.
Hampton is seeded 68th in the field, and will play Manhattan in Dayton on Tuesday for the right to get blown out by Kentucky on Thursday.
Kentucky is the 18th team to take an undefeated record into the NCAA tournament. Seven have gone on to win championships. Wichita State was undefeated entering last year's tournament before having its perfect dream ended — by Kentucky.
Larry Bird's Indiana State team in 1979 came close to perfection before losing the national title game to Magic Johnson and Michigan State.
UCLA had four undefeated teams under John Wooden: 1964, 1967, 1972 and 1973.
Kentucky has been hellbent, for years, on eclipsing UCLA in national titles, narrowly missing banner No. 9 last year with a title-game loss to Connecticut.
Kentucky and UCLA are in this tournament together, but only in the most literal sense.
The teams, on opposite bracket sides, could meet only in the national title game.