American U next for Vols

The Tennessee Vols got no favors from the NCAA Selection Committee.

Despite ranking No. 1 in RPI and strength of schedule, along with No. 4 in the national polls, the Vols were denied a No. 1 seed for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Moreover, the Vols (29-4) were placed in the same region with North Carolina (32-2), the No. 1 overall seed. That means Tennessee has the toughest road to the Final Four among the four No. 2 seeds.

The Vols will open NCAA Tournament play Friday in Birmingham. Their opponent will be No. 15 seed American University. The Eagles (21-11) will be making their first-ever appearance in the Big Dance.

The other Friday game in Birmingham will pit No. 7 seed Butler (29-3) against No. 10 seed South Alabama (26-6). Butler recently won the Horizon League, the conference UT coach Bruce Pearl dominated during his days at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Friday's winners will meet Sunday, also in Birmingham, for a berth in the Sweet 16. Should Tennessee advance to the East region semifinals at Charlotte, the most likely opponent would be third-seeded Louisville. If the Vols make the region finals, they'll probably find the Tar Heels waiting for them.

Besides UNC in the East, the other No. 1 seeds are Memphis (33-1) in the South, UCLA (31-3) in the West and Kansas (31-3) in the Midwest. Many experts thought Tennessee would be seeded No. 1 in the Midwest but Kansas got the nod after defeating Texas in the Big XII Tournament.

Tennessee is one of six SEC teams that will be participating in the NCAA Tournament this year. The others are Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Georgia, which stunned Arkansas in Sunday's SEC Tournament finals.

Vanderbilt (26-7) is seeded No. 4 in the Midwest and will play No. 10 seed Siena (22-10) Friday at Tampa.

Arkansas (22-11) is seeded No. 9 in the East and will play No. 8 seed Indiana (25-7) Friday in Raleigh, N.C.

Mississippi State (22-10) is seeded No. 8 in the South and will face No. 9 seed Oregon (18-13) Friday at Little Rock.

Kentucky (18-12) is seeded No. 11 in the South and will face No. 6 seed Marquette (24-9) Thursday in Anaheim.

Georgia (17-16) is seeded No. 14 in the West and will face No. 3 seed Xavier (27-6) Thursday in Washington D.C.

Ole Miss (21-10) was the odd man out among SEC teams and will be relegated to the NIT Tournament.

The only conference to put more teams in the NCAA field than the SEC was the Big East, which has eight. The Pac 10 and Big 12 also got six. The Big 10 and ACC got just four each.

Here are the top four seeds in each region:

EAST

1. North Carolina

2. Tennessee

3. Louisville

4. Washington State

SOUTH

1. Memphis

2. Texas

3. Stanford

4. Pittsburgh

MIDWEST

1. Kansas

2. Georgetown

3. Wisconsin

4. Vanderbilt

WEST

1. UCLA

2. Duke

3. Xavier

4. Connecticut


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