Ducks earn No. 3 seed, will face Iona
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is plenty of Big 12 flavor in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.
The Oregon men's basketball team, down after losing star player Chris Boucher to a season-ending injury and falling to Arizona in the Pac-12 title game, adds a dash of West Coast flavor as the No. 3 seed.
The Ducks (29-5) will open the NCAA Tournament on Friday against 14th-seeded Iona in Sacramento, California. The game starts at 11 a.m. on TBS.
Oregon is making its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Dana Altman. The Ducks advanced to the Elite Eight in 2016, after earning the first-ever No. 1 seed in program history.
Iona (22-12) earned the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's automatic bid for the second straight year after defeating Siena in the MAAC tournament final Saturday, 87-86 in overtime. The Gaels are led by 6-foot-8 forward Jordan Washington, who averages 17.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, both top five in the MAAC. Guard Sam Cassell is the namesake of his father, the longtime NBA standout.
There's the chance Altman gets to face his former team. Before turning the Ducks into a perennial Pac-12 contender, Altman did the same thing during 16 years at Creighton. The Bluejays, who went to seven NCAA Tournaments and won more than 300 games with him on the sideline, could be a second-round date.
Also in the region, No. 1 seed Kansas was rewarded for its 13th straight regular-season conference championship by getting to play the opening round just down the road in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Jayhawks face the winner of a play-in game between North Carolina Central and UC Davis.
Big 12 Tournament champ Iowa State is the fifth seed in the region while Oklahoma State earned an at-large bid and will face Big Ten Tournament champion Michigan as the No. 10 seed.
"I was really, really surprised," Kansas coach Bill Self said, "not that they put Iowa State with us — I think that's fine — but they did it if both teams advanced it could happen in the Sweet 16."
The selection committee changed its guidelines a few years ago so teams from the same conference are not supposed to play each other before the tournament's second weekend.
"So I guess they followed their guideline," Self said.
The four teams advancing to the regional semifinals will meet at Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, where the Big 12 just wrapped up its tournament. And you can bet local fans, restaurants, hotels and bar owners are salivating at the idea of Kansas and Iowa State meeting there.
Louisville earned the No. 2 seed despite its early loss to red-hot Duke in the ACC Tournament.
The Big Ten was well represented in the region with fifth-seeded Purdue joining the Spartans and Wolverines. Creighton earned the No. 6 seed despite struggling down the stretch, when an injury to star point guard Mo Watson forced coach Greg McDermott to shuffle around minutes.