Tourney Thoughts

West Virginia received the toughest draw of all the number six seeds in the NCAA tournament, and didn't get any favors in terms of its location either.

Just so this column isn't perceived as a litany of complaints, it should first be noted that WVU's six seed is certainly a fair one. After two wins in the Big East tournament, it's where knowledgeable observers thought the Mountaineers would be, and that's where they ended up. Sure, there might be a team or two seeded higher that's a little questionable (Utah?) but overall there can't be any complaints about West Virginia's spot in the seeding process.

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That said, the Mountaineers clearly are facing the best #11 seed in the draw. The other #11 seeds (Virginia Commonwealth, Utah State and Temple) aren't nearly as scary, no matter what their record, than the Flyers. Dayton finished the season with a 26-7 record, and while ther schedule wasn't overwhelming they did record big wins over Marquette, Auburn and the Owls. Dayton did lose to perennial mid-major power Creighton, and was just 3-4 over its final seven games, but would likely be favored in head to head matchups over any of the other elevens.

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The placement of WVU in Minneapolis is also a bit of a puzzler. While minimizing travel is something the committee can look at, it obviously wasn't a factor in making the six-eleven matchups. While West Virginia is winging west to Minny, Marquette is traveling to Boise, Idaho, UCLA is crossing the country to Philadelphia, and Arizona State is doing likewise to Miami. Wouldn't a better placement have been UCLA to Boise, ASU or Marquette to Minneapolis, and the other and WVU to Miami and Philly? Just asking.

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The Minneapolis games will be played in the Metrodome, which is good in terms of space but bad in terms of ambiance. Domes are typiclaly split in two, with the court on one half and media work areas in the other. The big venues also tend to have better dressing room space for the eight teams playing there, as opposed to basketball only venues.

The drawback to domes is that they typically have a lot of space behind the baskets, and thus don't provide the sort of backdrops that shooters are used to. That can be an adjustment for some players who aren't used to wide open vistas behind the backboard.

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