Oden and Buckeyes, roaring Tigers highlight South
Posted: Today, 1:40 AM
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Ohio State hasn't been to the national title game since 1962, but freshman sensation Greg Oden may have something to say about that.
Oden, who has been a force inside all season for the Buckeyes, has helped Ohio State (30-3) already to the Big Ten Tournament title and now the top seed in the South.
Although fans have encouraged Oden to return for another season, it's likely he'll make the jump to the NBA. However, before then he'll try to help Ohio State to its second national title, joining the 1960 team that featured John Havlicek.
The Buckeyes, whose 1999 Final Four appearance was stricken from NCAA records due to rules violations under head coach Jim O'Brien, will tangle with Northeast Tournament winner Central Connecticut State on Thursday in Lexington.
"We're just playing each game as that game," Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr. said. "We're not worried about what's ahead of us and focusing on seeding and who we play next. It's just one game at a time."
Memphis is the second seed and will take on Sun Belt champs North Texas on Friday in New Orleans. The Tigers (30-3) won the Conference USA Tournament for the second straight year and will enter the NCAA Tournament with a 22-game winning streak, the longest in the nation. Memphis was eliminated by UCLA in the Elite Eight a year ago.
"All of those people who said we were a third or fourth seed weren't even close," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "We were a solid two. Now we've got to go play that way."
Assuming Memphis wins, the Tigers would play the winner of the 7-10 matchup between Nevada and Missouri Valley champion Creighton. The four-time Western Athletic Conference champion Wolf Pack are making their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and the sixth in school history. Nevada holds a 3-5 overall record in NCAA Tournament games.
Texas A&M, led by super senior guard Acie Law, is seeded third and will play Ivy League champion Penn Thursday afternoon in Lexington. The Quakers have lost their last eight NCAA Tournament games, having last won in 1994 with a victory over Nebraska in the first round, but that doesn't matter to Law.
"It is a very high honor to make the NCAAs and to be the top seed in Texas A&M history," Law said. "We have to focus on Penn. We know they are a solid team and they compete hard."
Louisville coach Rick Pitino, a former coach at Kentucky, returns to Rupp Arena in Lexington as his sixth-seeded Cardinals play Stanford in a Cardinals vs. Cardinal matchup. Stanford (18-12), which lost four of its last five games, was considered one of the final teams to make it into the field of 65.
The other game in Lexington on Thursday will be Thursday night with eighth seed BYU going against Xavier.
Virginia, the fourth seed, and Tennessee, the No. 5 seed, will play their first-round games Friday in Columbus. The Cavaliers match up against Albany, winners of the America East tourney, while the Volunteers battle Big West victor Long Beach State.
The South regional semifinals and final will be held at the Alamodome in San Antonio.