News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Ramblin' Reck

March 19, 2013

RAMBLIN’ RECK:Brackets are set, now make your picks

TERRE HAUTE — Get your brackets filled out — the first games in the 75th NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship will be played this evening.

This tournament looks wide open. Ten or 15 teams could be the winner. One coach says a double-digit seed could prevail even though a No. 4 seed or better has taken the title in the past 24 seasons.

Louisville has been made the early favorite by the pros in Las Vegas at 9-2 odds. The Cardinals had been listed at 3-1 but the figure dropped due to teams in their bracket, including Duke, Michigan State, Oregon, Creighton and St. Louis.

Indiana is second in the list of favorites at 7-1 odds, and three teams are tied for third at 8-1: Duke, Miami of Florida and Florida.

Wichita State and Creighton are the Missouri Valley Conference teams in the field. Other teams faced by Indiana State are Miami, Ole Miss, New Mexico, Iona, UCLA and San Diego State.

The Sycamores will be in the NIT for the third time in school history. They’ll face Iowa, and Dan Dakich will be part of the broadcast team for ESPN2. He calls Jake Odum one of his favorite players and is looking forward to doing the game.

Kentucky, by the way, is a No. 1 seed in the NIT and begins play on the road.

ISU’s first NIT game was played at Houston in 1977. The Cougars escaped with an 83-82 victory in Larry Bird’s first year in school.

The Sycamores got a home game the following season and beat Illinois State 73-71 before falling to Rutgers on the road.

The following year, of course, ISU made its first appearance in The Big Dance. Sports Illustrated recently named the 10 greatest players in the tournament. Bird was fifth on the list.

The Top 10 starts with Lew Alcindor at No. 1 and is followed, in order,  by Bill Walton, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Bradley, Magic Johnson, Christian Laettner and Jerry West.

Another team going for national honors this week is the Vincennes University men’s basketball team. The Trailblazers are 30-2 and a No. 5 seed in the 24-team event and begins play tonight.

The DePauw women capped a perfect season last week by winning the NCAA Division III tournament.

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