News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local Interest

February 14, 2012

RAMBLIN' RECK: Assessing the NCAA tournament jumble

TERRE HAUTE — The college men’s basketball schedule is in its final month with Selection Sunday less than four weeks away.

Nationally, two teams figure to be top contenders for the No. 1 seed: Syracuse and Kentucky.

Based on current records and standings, six Big Ten teams should be in the field. Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all should be a No. 4 seed or better.

For a time, it appeared Northwestern had a good chance to get its first ticket ever for the NCAA but the Wildcats will need a strong finish. Illinois also will have to do better to get in the tournament in spite of some quality wins over Ohio State and Michigan State, being 5-7 in the conference.

Missouri Valley teams had a great nonconference mark and this season should be one of those years for at least two bids. Creighton and Wichita State have great marks and should get in even if neither team wins the conference tournament.

The Shockers hiked their road mark to 8-1 with their victory at Creighton, when they were 17 of 17 at the free throw line.

The Valley should benefit from the showing of Pac-12 teams. That league may just have one team in the Big Dance.

We’ll see.

• Regionals set — Clay City, Sullivan and Riverton Parke’s girls basketball teams all won sectional titles and are set for regional action.

Sullivan has the toughest first-round regional game. The No. 8-ranked Golden Arrows face top-ranked Evansville Mater Dei in the Class 2A Paoli Regional.

Riverton Parke was ranked No. 6 in the final Class A poll and plays in the Tri-Central Regional. Tri-Central was ranked ninth last week but failed to make it out of the sectional, losing to 5-18 Lafayette Central Catholic.

Clay City was 10th in the last poll and faces 14th-ranked Jac-Cen-Del in the Southwestern (Shelby) Regional.

Three Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference teams made it with North Central besting Hamilton Southeastern, ranked 15th in the USA Today national poll last week. Ben Davis and Lawrence North were the other winners and will meet in the regional.

Two Blue Chip Conference teams were winners and are in the West Washington Regional. They are unbeaten Barr-Reeve, ranked second last week, and No. 5 and 19-4 Northeast Dubois — that’s my alma mater and the Jeeps won their 10th Class A sectional championship.

We won’t make any picks. We just hope the Eels, Arrows, Panthers and Jeeps win.

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