3:00pm - With no broadcast available this afternoon in the Maples Pavilion press room (c'mon, folks), the assembled local media corps is gathered in a conference room next door at the Arrillaga Family Sports Center. Everybody has their blank bracket ready to fill in. Will we be covering the Cardinal in the Big Dance or instead in the NIT for a second straight year?
3:05 - The four #1 seeds have been revealed, and UCLA is on the outside looking in. They were discussed just days ago as the possible overall #1 seed in the entire Field of 65, but losing your final two games - including one to a Cal team with an overall losing record in the first game of the Pac-10 Tournament - apparently squashes that idea. Could this be the first sign that the Pac-10 is not going to have a good Selection Sunday? We thought and we heard all season how ridiculously good and deep the conference was this year, though the RPI slipped a good deal from December to March.
3:10 - Purdue is not only in, but they grab a #9 seed in the Midwest Region? If this is the beginning of a Big 10 lovefest, I think I'm going to be sick. The Boilermakers had some bubble talk, so this seed seems awfully high. Stanford probably wasn't competing directly with them for one of the final at-large bids, but it's not a good kind of surprise to see right out of the gate.
3:11 - Old Dominion just grabbed the #12 seed in the Midwest. Good for Blaine Taylor; not good for Trent Johnson. That is the first example of one of the last bubble teams in competition with the Cardinal taking one of the last at-large slots. ODU should have been the only bid from their conference, but they lost in their tournament semifinals. Stanford's chances are now a little thinner.
3:13 - Oregon with the #3 seed in the Midwest. I'm not shocked, like a couple people just expressed in this room. Lute Olson is right that this is the best Pac-10 in the past two decades (plus), and the Ducks just won the Pac-10 Tournament. They have been a strong team most of the year, and that is a powerful finish that commands respect. Winning the Pac-10 Tourney has always given a boost of a couple seeds. The Ducks have to be excited to be playing in Spokane (Wash.), too.
3:18 - Kansas is the #1 seed in the West Region. Makes sense, among the four #1 seeds. And given the players they always recruit from the West Coast, it seems fitting to me.
3:19 - Illinois gets the West #12 seed, which is a blow for Stanford equal to ODU. If the last at-large spots go to #12 seeds, Stanford has maybe two more chances. Plus perhaps odds on a #11 seed... When I saw Virginia Tech pop up as the #5 seed right before Illinois as the #12, my brain was already whirling with thoughts of a Stanford-VaTech rematch. The Hokies played and beat the Card in Las Vegas last year in the preseason. This would also have been another in the line of Stanford vs. ACC NCAA Tournament games (North Carolina, Maryland, Wake Forest).
3:20 - UCLA is the #2 in the West. They can't really be upset, after losing their last two games. And frankly, all that really matters is that they play their first two games a few hours up I-5 in Sacramento.
3:20 - Gonzaga is the #10 seed in the West? Wow. Is this an effort to pay back for the other years they have been supposedly "underseeded?" They finished the season without Josh Heytvelt, and it showed with some bad losses (Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount). No way should they be seeded this high, given both their record and their lack of Heytvelt for the NCAAs. Is this a sign that the Selection Committee this year does not want to pay such close detail to the addition or subtraction of a player? Stanford has to hope that the injuries for Brook Lopez and Anthony Goods do in fact carry weight with the Committee. By the way, this could set up a UCLA-Gonzaga rematch in the second round. Who will cry on the floor after the rematch?
3:21 - Duke is a #6 seed - seems too high. More importantly, there are countless Cardinalmaniacs™ thirsting for Stanford to be the #11 seed in that first round game... Nope. It's Virginia Commonwealth. They're the team that won the conference tournament instead of ODU. The Colonial Athletic Association Conference is also home to Drexel, who lost to VCU in the semis and are a big competitor with Stanford for the final at-large bids.
3:26 - USC gets a #5 seed in the South Region. Wow. I know they just beat Stanford in the Pac-10 Tourney quarterfinals, but I do not believe they are this good. They can really shoot the ball and can be dangerous in any given game in that respect, but still... The #12 seed obviously cannot be Stanford - never going to pair two teams from the same conference in a first round game. Arkansas gets this spot. Yikes. Joe Lunardi had them several notches below Stanford earlier today and "out." I think they were in the "next four out" category, which means somebody who Lunardi had projected "in" is going to be disappointed today. Only one #12 seed remains. And a couple of #11 spots.
3:27 - Texas is a #4 seed in the South. I wonder what they would have been had they held on against Kansas a couple hours ago. KU landed a #1 seed. By the way, if the 'Horns and Trojans win their first round games, this sets up a clash between the two football powers who gave us the memorable National Championship game 14 months ago.
3:28 - Washington State gets a #3 seed. Wow. I just chatted a few minutes ago with John Platz on this question. They finished with losses in two of their last four and lost to a USC team that was DESTROYED by Oregon the next day in the Pac-10 Tournament. What a huge vote of respect for the Cougars' season, and this has to be a good sign for Stanford. The Pac-10 is getting a ton of respect: UCLA #2, Oregon #3, Washington State #3 and USC #5. The Pac-10 may be the third-ranked conference in the RPI, but is anybody feeling more love today?
3:29 - Top secret word just came from The Bootleg contributing analyst Ray Salloom, who has a protected source in possession of the full Field of 65. Ray says that Stanford is the #11 seed playing Louisville. This is unprecedented insider information to receive before it is unveiled on CBS. I just whispered the info to Platz and Stanford's SID, Aimee Dombroski. Both are incredulous that the information exists, but both are also hopeful that it is true. Platz looks at his bracket and points out that the #11 seed in the final bracket with be the 65th and final team announced on the CBS broadcast. My Lord, Trent Johnson and the Stanford players will sweat it out to the very end. Platz also points out that the game may be played in Lexington (Ky.). That would be no bueno for the Cardinal and a huge advantage for the Cardinals.
3:32 - More thoughts on the yet-to-be-announced Stanford-Lousville game. It pits Stanford against Rick Pitino, which last happened in November 2004 at the Maui Invitational - an 82-67 loss in the fourth game Trent Johnson coached at Stanford. The Cardinal nearly matched up against Pitino in the NCAA Tournament 10 years ago in San Jose when he was at Kentucky (and Johnson was a Stanford assistant), if not for an absent whistle on Brevin Knight's three-pointer (and foul!) to tie Utah at the end of regulation in the Sweet 16. This also means that Stanford will play against David Padgett. That would be so rich if Mike Montgomery were still coaching here, given the begging and pleading by Montgomery for Stanford to admit Padgett when he was the #5 recruit in the nation in his high school class. Padgett did not get a green light, which was crushing for the family. They were dead set on coming to The Farm. Now the "big fish" big man Stanford lost will play against Brook and Robin Lopez. Also, how many Cardinal vs. Cardinals jokes and comments will we hear this week?
3:35 - BYU is the #8 seed in the South. They lost in the Mountain West final to UNLV, who is the #7 seed in the Midwest. Surely there will not be a third Mountain West team. Air Force looks like they are screwed. I cannot fathom that, after how they looked in the preseason. Wow. Losing your last four games of the year while playing in a mid-major conference is a quick path to Selection Sunday destruction.
3:35 - Long Beach State lands the last #12 seed, which would be crushing to everyone who does not know that Stanford will be the #11 seed in the South. The tension in the Stanford locker room has to be suffocating... Virginia lands a #4 seed, which is another good data point for Stanford. That means the Cardinal have wins against teams seeded in this NCAA Tournament as #2, #3 (twice), #4 and #5.
3:37 - The final team announced is indeed Stanford. At 18-12 and a #65 RPI, this will surprise some people, but the quality of the Cardinal's wins must be regarded highly when you consider the seeds handed to those opponents today. Stanford will play on Thursday in Lexington, which will be brutal. But I can guarantee you that there is no such concern on the part of the Cardinal players in the locker room, going crazy right now. Stanford is back in the Big Dance after a one-year hiatus.
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