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THE MADNESS HAS BEGUN IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / March 4, 1998

It’s March Madness time, the time where anything can, and often does, happen in college basketball. The time where Davids capture the nationalspotlight and the Goliaths of the sport have to be constantly on their toes.

Who knows where the next Princeton or Richmond might lurk.

The craziness has already begun with conference tournament play this past weekend. As of this writing, eight teams – Arizona, College ofCharleston, Davidson, Iona, Murray State, Princeton, Radford and Richmond – have already gained spots in the round of 64. Radford won the Big SouthConference title with a last-second shot against North Carolina-Asheville.

Those kinds of miracle, buzzer-beater shots are commonplace in the conference and NCAA tournaments, as are upsets. Wisconsin-Green Bay hasalready pulled off one of the first surprises, knocking off Midwestern Collegiate Conference champion Detroit in the conference semifinals. Moresurprises are certain to come.

Sunday is one of the biggest days in college basketball as the selections for the NCAA field of 64 will be announced. Barring upsets in theconference tournaments, the top four seeds are probably already determined.

Top-ranked Duke, coming off a memorable victory over arch-rival and No.

3-ranked North Carolina Saturday, will get a number-one seed unless it falls apart in the ACC tournament. Ditto for the Tar Heels, who arewaiting for another chance at the Blue Devils in the conference tournament.

Arizona, the Pac-10 and defending national champion, does not have to worry about a conference tournament but does have games remaining before the selections are made. Kansas, the Big 12 champion, will probablyget the fourth top seed.

But as been proved year after year, just because those teams are the top seeds does not guarantee that they will meet in the Final Four. There isalways a Kentucky or Utah waiting to be the Cinderella at the Big Dance.

The madness is also in full swing in women’s college basketball. Alabamaupset Florida and threw a scare into No. 1-ranked Tennessee in the SECtournament Sunday. All that might have done is awaken a sleeping giant,however, as the Lady Volunteers do not look to be challenged until the Final Four when they could be joined by Connecticut, Old Dominion and Louisiana Tech.

The NCAA Men’s tournament opens next Thursday. The Final Four will beheld at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio starting March 28 with the championship game being held March 30.

But there is still a lot of madness to be experienced between now and then as teams battle for a spot on the dance floor at the Big Dance. Let the bigboys beware now that the Ides of March are upon us.

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