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Bruins Have a Vote in Their Corner

March 11, 2004|Mike Terry | From Staff and Wire Reports

UCLA will end its four-year absence from the NCAA basketball tournament this week if Marie Tuite has anything to say about it.

Tuite, a senior associate athletic director at the University of Washington, is part of a 10-member tournament selection committee that starts deliberating today in Indianapolis on the 64 teams that will compete for the national championship.

The women's tournament field will be announced Sunday.

Thirty-one teams, by virtue of winning their league or conference championship, receive automatic bids. The other 33 teams receive at-large bids. The Bruins (17-12) finished tied for third in the Pacific 10 Conference and reached the semifinals of the conference tournament, losing to Stanford.

Stanford, the Pac-10 tournament winner, has the automatic bid and Arizona, the conference tournament runner-up, can expect an at-large bid. Tuite will also push for UCLA, Washington and Arizona State, and expects the committee to pick three or four Pac-10 teams.

The Bruins, Tuite said, have the best argument for an at-large berth after Arizona.

"I'm a big champion of UCLA because it has done a lot of things the committee likes to see," Tuite said.

Among the criteria used to pick the teams, Tuite said, is won-loss record, strength of schedule, record against common opponents, season-ending performances and injuries. The committee does not take into consideration previous results in NCAA tournaments, placement in conference and regional representation, nor is there any preference if a school is hosting first- and second-round games.

There are quite a few teams besides UCLA with at least 17 victories. But the Bruins are healthy, have won nine of their last 12 (with two of those losses to Stanford) and beat two ranked teams (Ohio State and Arizona, when the Wildcats were 24th).

"Last year, [the committee] took Virginia at 16-13," Tuite said. "I'm only one vote, but there are other conferences that were muddled throughout the year. Our conference is stronger than it's ever been.

"So I go in a very strong champion for UCLA."

Mike Terry



In the Big 12 Conference tournament at Dallas, No. 2 Texas defeated Iowa State, 64-54, behind Nina Norman and Tiffany Jackson, who scored 16 points each. Lyndsey Medders had 12 points for the Cyclones (15-14). The Longhorns (27-3) will play No. 14 Baylor in the semifinals. The Bears (24-7) got 26 points from Sophia Young in an 80-72 victory over No. 10 Texas Tech (24-7).

In the other bracket, No. 8 Kansas State (24-4) rolled to a 79-58 victory over Missouri (17-12) and No. 19 Oklahoma (21-8) scored a 63-56 victory over No 13 Colorado (22-7).

In a Western Athletic Conference game, No. 7 Louisiana Tech (25-2) cruised to a 100-56 victory over Boise State (9-20) at Fresno.

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