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SELECTION-DAY PRIMER

Ncaa Men

Tournament selection show: Today, 3 p.m., Channel 2

March 14, 2004

HOW IT SHOULD SHAPE UP

Staff writer Robyn Norwood provides comments for the schools that have automatic bids and those expected to receive at-large bids to the NCAA men's tournament.

RPI rankings are through games of March 7.

AUTOMATIC BIDS (31)

*--* RPI School Rec. Comment Conference

*--*

*--* 1 *DUKE 27-4 No. 1 seeding Blue Devils might earn today would be their sixth in seven seasons. ATLANTIC COAST

*--*

*--* 3 *KENTUCKY 25-4 Once again, no stars, just a tough, veteran group that understands how to win. SOUTHEASTERN

*--*

*--* 6 STANFORD 29-1 One-loss record and Pac-10 regular-season and tournament titles rate a No. 1 seeding. PACIFIC 10

*--*

*--* 7 CONNECTICUT 27-6 Impressive Big East final win, but Okafor's back, Villanueva's ankle are concerns. BIG EAST

*--*

*--* 9 GONZAGA 27-2 The Zags, with Stepp, Turiaf and their most talented team yet, are underdogs no more. WEST COAST

*--*

*--* 10 *OKLAHOMA STATE 26-3 Cowboys -- a group of transfers that melded exceptionally well -- probably will be a No. 2. BIG 12

*--*

*--* 19 CINCINNATI 24-6 Crazy five-way tie for regular-season C-USA title, but Bearcats won the tournament. CONFERENCE USA

*--*

*--* 24 *ILLINOIS 24-5 The Illini take a 12-game winning streak into today's Big Ten final against Wisconsin. BIG TEN

*--*

*--* 38 NEVADA 23-8 The Wolf Pack upset Kansas early in the season -- but also lost to Portland and SMU. WESTERN ATHLETIC

*--*

*--* 43 UTAH 24-8 It's hard to imagine the Utes in the NCAA tournament without Rick Majerus as coach. MOUNTAIN WEST

*--*

*--* 45 MANHATTAN 24-5 Guard Luis Flores' 24-point average makes him one of leading scorers in NCAA field. METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC

*--*

*--* 52 XAVIER 23-10 Only team to beat Saint Joseph's made sure there was no debate by winning A-10 bid. ATLANTIC 10

*--*

*--* 55 WESTERN MICHIGAN 26-4 Team that opened season with upset of USC took itself off bubble by winning MAC title. MID-AMERICAN

*--*

*--* 57 MURRAY STATE 28-5 Racers lost to Top 25 teams Pittsburgh and Louisville by 20-plus points. OHIO VALLEY

*--*

*--* 58 E. TENNESSEE STATE 27-5 Buccaneer Coach Murry Bartow is the son of onetime UCLA coach Gene Bartow. SOUTHERN

*--*

*--* 61 CENTRAL FLORIDA 25-5 School has more than 40,000 students but doesn't fill its 5,100-seat arena. ATLANTIC SUN

*--*

*--* 62 VA. COMMONWEALTH 23-7 Coach Jeff Capel, 29, played for Duke team that lost to Arkansas in 1994 NCAA title game. COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSN.

*--*

*--* 68 NORTHERN IOWA 20-9 Panthers upset Iowa, Southern Illinois during season, won MVC tourney in double-overtime. MISSOURI VALLEY

*--*

*--* 70 PACIFIC 24-7 Tigers almost let one get away against Northridge in Big West final. BIG WEST

*--*

*--* 87 LA. LAFAYETTE 20-8 Former Arizona assistant Jessie Evans' Ragin' Cajuns almost upset Wildcats in Dec. SUN BELT

*--*

*--* 96 ILLINOIS CHICAGO 24-7 Here's a yardstick: Illinois beat undersized UIC by 15 early in the season. HORIZON

*--*

*--* 119 MONMOUTH 21-11 Tyler Azzarelli had a 4.0 GPA last semester and a career-high 19 points in the NEC title game. NORTHEAST

*--*

*--* 125 VERMONT 22-8 Surprise return of Taylor Coppenrath (43 points in final) makes Catamounts upset threat. AMERICA EAST

*--*

*--* 132 PRINCETON 20-7 Guard Will Venable is son of former major leaguer Max Venable, an Angel from 1989-91. IVY LEAGUE

*--*

*--* 145 E. WASHINGTON 17-12 Red paint stained home jerseys in celebration, but Eagles will be wearing road uniforms. BIG SKY

*--*

*--* 157 VALPARAISO 17-12 Tiny Valpo saved basketball-mad state of Indiana from not having a team in tournament. MID-CONTINENT

*--*

*--* 166 LIBERTY 18-14 School founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell lost to Duke by 29 in November. BIG SOUTH

*--*

*--* 205 *LEHIGH 19-10 Only the winner of today's Patriot final between Lehigh and American will be dancing. PATRIOT LEAGUE

*--*

*--* 236 TEXAS SAN ANTONIO 19-13 Roadrunners will be in San Antonio for Final Four -- but only because they live there. SOUTHLAND

*--*

*--* 253 ALABAMA STATE 16-14 Once 4-12, Hornets were hot down stretch but SWAC qualifiers are ultimate longshots. SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC

*--*

*--* 291 FLORIDA A&M 14-16 Team that lost 10 of its first 11 will either draw a No. 1-seeded team or a trip to play-in game. MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC

*--*

*--* * PROJECTED to win conference tournament final and gain automatic bid.

*--*

*--* AT-LARGE BIDS (34)

*--*

*--* 2 SAINT JOSEPH'S 27-1 The Hawks still deserve a No. 1 seeding, but the committee's logic can be unpredictable. ATLANTIC 10

*--*

*--* 4 MISSISSIPPI STATE 25-3 Overtime loss to Vanderbilt in SEC tourney cost the Bulldogs their chance at a No. 1. SOUTHEASTERN

*--*

*--* 5 PITTSBURGH 29-4 At least UCLA Coach Ben Howland can watch team he left behind in the NCAA tournament. BIG EAST

*--*

*--* 8 SYRACUSE 21-7 2003 NCAA champions sure could use fellow named Carmelo again. (Anthony, that is.) BIG EAST

*--*

*--* 11 TEXAS 23-6 Longhorns reached today's Big 12 title game behind the hot hand of Brandon Mouton. BIG 12

*--*

*--* 12 KANSAS 21-8 Ranked No. 1 early in the season, Jayhawks were later upset by Nevada and Richmond. BIG 12

*--*

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