Selection Sunday: No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 15 Vermont Friday
MILWAUKEE - The No. 2 Marquette Golden Eagles face No. 15 Vermont on Friday, March 17 in Columbus, Ohio in the East in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
The announcement was made on Selection Sunday, hours after Marquette won the Big East title for the first time.
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Alabama earns No. 1 seed overall
Alabama is the overall top seed in the NCAA Tournament after cruising through the end of a season clouded by a murder case over the past two months.
The Crimson Tide was awarded the top spot Sunday over Kansas and Houston, each of whom exited their conference tournaments without the titles and missing key cogs on their teams.
The defending national champion Jayhawks lost by 20 to Texas on Saturday in the Big 12 tournament. They played without their coach, Bill Self, who went to a hospital emergency room Wednesday night complaining of chest tightness and concerns with his balance. He has been discharged and is expected back this week. Kansas is the No. 1 seed in the West Region.
Houston was without leading scorer Marcus Sasser, who went down with a groin injury Saturday. The Cougars are the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region.
Play in the 68-team tournament begins Tuesday with two games in the First Four. March Madness gets into full swing Thursday and Friday with 32 games spread over eight cities. The Final Four is set for April 1 and 3 at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Houston, which could be playing what amounts to two home games at the Final Four, entered the day as the favorite to win the national championship at 11-2, per FanDuel Sportsbook. Next was Alabama at 15-2, followed by Kansas, which is trying to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Florida in 2007, and is listed at 9-1.
The Tide will play in the South Region and will open Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama, against the winner of a First Four game between Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Southeast Missouri State.
Among those teams making it off the bubble included Mississippi State and Pitt, who will square off Wednesday in a play-in game. Houston will open against Northern Kentucky on Thursday.
Marquette wins 1st Big East Tournament
Tyler Kolek and No. 6 Marquette raced out to a hefty lead and never looked back, beating No. 15 Xavier 65-51 on Saturday night to win the Big East Tournament for the first time.
Kolek, the Big East Player of the Year and the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, had 20 points and eight rebounds as the top-seeded Golden Eagles (28-6) dominated a Big East final that brought a Midwestern flavor to Madison Square Garden.
Coach Shaka Smart's surprising team will head into the NCAA Tournament with a nine-game winning streak after Marquette's first appearance in the Big East championship game resulted in one of its best performances of a scintillating season.
This was the first Big East title game since the conference dropped football in 2013 to not feature any of its longstanding Northeast members.
Still, the Milwaukee school (Marquette, which joined in 2005) and the Cincinnati school (Xavier, which joined in 2013) filled The Garden for the first 1 vs. 2 seed Big East Tournament final in 19 years.
It looked more like a 1-16 NCAA Tournament game for a while. Marquette jumped out to a 21-4 lead, and never relented.
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Marquette's only previous league tournament title was as a member of Conference USA in 1997.
Twenty-six years later, the Golden Eagles were able to clear the bench in the final minute of the Big East championship game and their fans were finally able to make Madison Square Garden feel like home.