Vitale: VBDI's 65-team field

Vitale: Sluggish Tar Heels survive

Vitale: Special Dance stories galore

Vitale: All-Rolls Royce Teams (plus)

Vitale: All-conference teams (plus)

Vitale: Upset shouldn't derail Illini

Vitale: Chaney should keep job

Dick Vitale Archive

 Cardinal Question
Mike and Mike: Louisville finished No. 4 in the nation but got a No. 4 seed in the tourney, and Dickie V wonders why.

 Up: Huskies
Dickie V gives Washington a big Stock Up in his Stock Watch report for March 14.

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Surprises, snubs launch NCAA tourney


March 13, 2005
It's time to get the party started — the field of 65 is set, baby!

I know several members of the committee, and I can tell you that they have a passion for basketball. They worked so hard and I believe they did a great job, but a few things surprised me.

Miami-Ohio and Notre Dame should have gotten into the field of 65 instead of Northern Iowa and UAB.
I felt that two teams were snubbed: Miami-Ohio won the MAC regular-season title (12-6 in league play) and won 19 games. Notre Dame had a winning record (9-7) in the deepest conference in America, the Big East. Yes, the Irish struggled down the stretch, but they beat Connecticut, Villanova and Boston College -- and they deserve to be in the Big Dance.

Miami-Ohio and Notre Dame should have gotten into the field of 65 instead of Northern Iowa and UAB.

Led by coach Greg McDermott, Northern Iowa is the No. 11 seed in the Syracuse Region. The Panthers lost in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals to SW Missouri State, although they did go 21-10 (11-7 in league play).

UAB is the No. 11 seed in the Chicago Region. The Blazers went 10-6 in Conference USA and 21-10 overall, but they didn't play a strong nonleague schedule. Losses to Richmond, Southern California, East Carolina and Tulane stood out, while there were too few quality wins.

Now that I have that out of the way, let's look at the field of 65.

Washington was a bit of a surprise as the fourth No. 1 seed, but coach Lorenzo Romar's team beat the likes of Utah, Oklahoma and Alabama. Give the Huskies credit for winning the Pac-10 tournament final over Arizona. Washington features a lot of quickness and balanced scoring, with four players averaging double figures. Duke was rewarded for winning the ACC tournament and also earned a No. 1 seed.

One in each region — my definition of a sleeper is a team seeded No. 5 or lower:

Syracuse Region: Villanova (5) — The Wildcats are a dangerous team because of their veterans, who have played together for a while now. Coach Jay Wright is thrilled to be in the tournament, since Villanova last made it in 1999.

Chicago Region: Alabama (5) — Alabama has Kennedy Winston, and the Tide reached the Elite Eight last season.

Austin Region: Michigan State (5) — Michigan State has a lot of experience with Alan Anderson, Chris Hill, Kelvin Torbert & Co. Coach Tom Izzo's team will be fired up after an early exit last season.

Albuquerque Region: Pittsburgh (9) — Pittsburgh may be angry after falling to a No. 9 seed. Chris Taft, Chevon Troutman & Co. are tough inside, and Carl Krauser will be ready defensively.

Illinois-Arizona, Louisville-Wake Forest, North Carolina-Connecticut, Duke-Kentucky

Illinois, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Duke

Imagine a Duke-Carolina showdown at the Final Four ... wow! Even before that, UNC coach Roy Williams could meet Kansas in the Elite Eight, although Connecticut may have something to say about that.

I picked the Tar Heels from the first day after last year's championship game. Despite the way they struggled in the ACC tournament, I am sticking with North Carolina to cut down the nets in St. Louis as the 2005 national champion.

With so many solid teams in the 65-team field, this tournament should be something special.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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