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Gators head NCAA Tournament field

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INDIANAPOLIS — Florida earned the NCAA Tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, while Michigan’s bid for one of three remaining top berths slipped away Sunday afternoon.

The top-ranked Gators (32-2) secured the No. 1 seed in the South after holding off Kentucky for a 61-60 victory in the Southeastern Conference championship game Sunday.

Also earning a top seed in the 68-team NCAA Division I men’s tournament was Wichita State (34-0). The nation’s lone unbeaten team, the Shockers received their first-ever No. 1 seed. They top the Midwest Region.

Arizona (30-4) was seeded No. 1 in the West despite being upset by UCLA in Saturday’s Pacific 12 Conference final. Virginia, which won its first Atlantic Coast Conference title since the 1970s, took No. 1 in the East with a 28-6 record.

Michigan appeared in line for the fourth and final top seed but slipped to No. 2 in the Midwest after dropping a 69-55 decision to Michigan State in Sunday’s Big Ten tournament final. The Spartans earned a No. 4 seed in the East.

“I think Michigan would have been a top seed had they won,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

CBS Sports reported that three No. 1 seeds were already set even as the SEC and Big Ten tournament finals were under way. The tournament committee chairman, Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, said that Michigan and Villanova both received consideration for No. 1 seeds.

The Big 12 has seven entries while the Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 and Atlantic 10 each earned six tournament berths. Seven at-large bids went to non-power conferences compared to 11 each of the past two NCAA Tournaments.

Defending champion Louisville, which won the American Athletic Conference tournament, is a No. 4 seed.

“They did not fall at all,” Wellman said. “You look at the No. 4 and we have some great teams — UCLA, Michigan State. San Diego State. Louisville is playing as well as anyone. The committee certainly agrees with that. However, we look at the total body of work — everything they did November through March — and every time we scrubbed that No. 4 line, Louisville ended up in the same place.”

Teams left out of the tournament included SMU, which finished the regular season in the AP Top 25 and had an RPI of 53 but missed the cut. Florida State, Green Bay and Georgetown were also near-misses.

“It was a very difficult decision, and as the committee deliberated about the decision, we went back and forth several times,” Wellman said. “(SMU’s) non-conference strength of schedule was in the 300s. The next-lowest strength of schedule in the field is 91.”

The tournament opens Tuesday and Wednesday with doubleheaders each night in Dayton, Ohio. The winners feeding into four 16-team regional brackets. The rest of the field gets under way with second-round games at eight sites on Thursday and Friday.

The Final Four will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with the semifinals on April 5 and the national championship game on April 7.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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