Basketball takes center stage

Although it happened just three years ago, it is a rare treat for LSU fans to cheer on the Tigers and LSU women as they embark for the NCAA Tournament.


Hundreds of fans joined LSU coach Sue Gunter and the Lady Tigers last Sunday as the SEC Tournament champions learned they were a No. 1 seed in the national tournament on ESPN.

After a jubilant celebration on the fifth floor of the LSU Athletic Administration building, many of those supporters walked down to the Lawton Room in Tiger Stadium in time to witness the announcement as John Brady's club was dubbed a No. 8-seed in the men's tourney.

To share a few views on each team headed to the tournament, let's begin with Gunter's Lady Tigers.

Sunday was a milestone day for the veteran LSU coach as she garnered the first No. 1 seed of her career. Ranked No. 3 in all national polls after last weekend's whipping of the Lady Vols in the SEC Tournament finals, LSU received the respect they deserved receiving the top seed.

But just barely.

For some reason, probably ESPN wanting to generate hype, the national TV audience was left in suspense as they led on to believe Texas may get the No. 1 seed. Building up to the announcement, there was lots of talk about the Lady Longhorns late season surge.

It was absurd to think Texas would get the No. 1 bid because of the fact LSU was a 76-58 winner over Jody Conradt's team during the regular season. Couple that with the fact the Lady Tigers were coming off a 16-point win over already announced No. 1 seed Tennessee, there was no question who deserved the berth.

What is more absurd than thinking Texas might get that nod is the fact Tennessee and Stanford will get to play on their home floor until the Final Four. With that being the case, the Lady Vols are a lock to reach Atlanta because Pat Summitt's club is 40-0 when playing tournament games at Thompson-Boling Arena.

LSU will have to go to Stanford if they reach the Elite Eight and defeat the Lady Cardinal at Maples Pavilion if they wish to make it to the Final Four.

However, LSU showed hostile environments are not a bother by beating Arkansas in the SEC Tournament in their home state and later defeating Tennessee before a rather orange-clad crowd.

Many believe LSU is the hottest team in the country, especially with UConn's recent loss to Villanova.

Over to the men.

Brady and his Tigers have put on an inspiring run over the last portion of the regular season winning their last five games in SEC play and enjoying a pair of impressive wins at the SEC Tournament in New Orleans.

The 65-61 win over No. 7 Florida in the Big Easy raised plenty of eyebrows as LSU picked up the South Region's No. 8 seed.

It should be an interesting matchup for LSU taking on Big Ten member Purdue in the opening round. The 8-9 seed game is usually among the most exciting in the NCAA Tournament.

The experts at ESPN and most national basketball opinion makers feel the Tigers should be able to win against the Boilermakers in Birmingham on Friday. The task then will be the University of Texas.

Picking up the top seed in the South, the Longhorns are a good draw for Brady's team. Of all the national No. 1 seeds, LSU can count their blessing because a game with Texas poses a more winnable matchup than the other top seeds (Arizona, Kentucky and Oklahoma).

What is it with Texas though?

Kansas coach Roy Williams was angry Sunday evening when his Jayhawk club was snubbed by the selection committee to make room for UT as the top bid in the South. Kansas won the head-to-head with Texas in the regular season and went farther in the Big 12 Tournament than the Longhorns did. And yet, UT got the nod.

Williams isn't going to get a lot of sympathy from LSU fans (remember Lester Earl) because it favors the Tigers in a 1-8 matchup with the Horns.

LSU is the darling of national basketball experts due to their late season run, a 7-game winning streak, and last Friday's win over Billy Donovan's Gators. With momentum on their side, the Tigers could be back in the Sweet 16 with wins over Purdue and Texas.

It should make for an interesting sub-regional in Birmingham this weekend.


On other fronts, the ever-volatile subject of the ticket surcharge issue in Tiger Stadium continues as more developments crept to the surface last week.

LSU has made it clear they received word from the legislature that a move to have the 12-percent limitation of seats controlled by the university for fund raising purposes may not pass in the state house.

Word has spread that LSU has scrapped their fund raising plan and admitted defeat. That is not the case, however, as associate athletic director Herb Vincent told Tiger Rag they will look for other avenues of fund raising to complete their athletic facilities upgrade project.

We had hoped to bring you a detail story with a viewpoint from both sides, but as of press time Sunday only Vincent could be reached. Check out regularly as we plan to bring you an account of the legislative side of the issue.


One more thing, Tiger Rag is also shifting to it spring magazine production schedule next week. There will be no issue next week, but check out the Rag is two weeks for full coverage of the NCAA Tournament, spring football and SEC baseball and softball.

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