INDIANAPOLIS -- Top-ranked Illinois heads into the NCAA
Tournament with one loss and the overall No. 1 seed.
Joining the Big Ten champion Illini as No. 1s on Sunday were
North Carolina and Duke from the Atlantic Coast Conference and this
year's surprise: Washington of the Pac-10.
Illinois (32-1) was assigned to the Chicago regional. North
Carolina (27-4) will be at Syracuse, Duke (25-5) will be in Austin
and Washington (27-5) in Albuquerque.
It's the sixth time in eight years two teams from the same
conference were seeded No. 1. The last time was 2003, when Oklahoma
and Texas of the Big 12 were No. 1 seeds.
The Illini won't get any frequent flyer miles in this tournament
as they will play the first and second rounds in Indianapolis with
the regional in Chicago and the Final Four is April 2 and 4 in St.
Illinois, which opens play Thursday against Northeast Conference
champion Fairleigh Dickinson, was followed in the Chicago regional
by second-seeded Oklahoma State, which won the Big 12 tournament;
No. 3 Arizona, the regular season Pac-10 champion, and
fourth-seeded Boston College, co-champions of the Big East.
Washington, the surprise of the No. 1s considering the Huskies
were ranked 14th in the latest AP poll, opens play Thursday in
Boise against Montana, the Big Sky champions.
The No. 2 seed in the Albuquerque regional was Wake Forest,
which was considered a sure No. 1 seed candidiate but the Demon
Deacons lost in the ACC tournament quarterfinals to North Carolina
State. Gonzaga, the West Coast Conference regular season and
tournament champion, was seeded third and Louisville, which swept
the Conference USA titles, was No. 4.