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March 17, 2006
Granted not all of the precincts have reported, but let's not hand the NCAA Tournament over to the Big East just yet.
The conference that dominated the college basketball landscape this season was anything but dominant on the first day of tournament action, going 0-3. It lost No. 10 seed Seton Hall, which was dominated by Wichita State; No. 7 seed Marquette, which went to the wire with Alabama; and No. 5 seed and Big East tourney champ Syracuse, which was stunned by 12th-seeded Texas A&M.
Meanwhile, the Southeastern Conference was asserting itself. The SEC went 4-0, including the crucial victory by the Crimson Tide. It also got blowout wins from high seeds Florida and LSU, while No. 2 seed Tennessee narrowly escaped an upset bid by Winthrop.
The Vols actually appeared headed for overtime before sophomore Chris Lofton hit an improbable off-balance baseline jumper with .4 seconds to play to give UT the 63-61 victory.
The Big East, which placed a record eight teams in the field, has five teams which will open play on Friday, including No. 1 seeds Connecticut and Villanova. All five will play as higher seeds (Pitt is a No. 5, West Virginia a 6 and Georgetown a 7).
There are 16 games in all on Friday, beginning with Davidson and Ohio State at 12:15 p.m. Eastern.
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