We continue along the path toward March Madness and Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco with a look at the prospective seeds. Everybody figures Kentucky as the No. 1 of the No. 1’s, and that should hold even if the Wildcats would lose tonight in Athens. (Which could happen, I’ve suggested.) Two losses between here and Selection Sunday might compromise that status, but it’s so hard to envision one Kentucky loss that two seems off the chart.
We might quibble with the bracket-making work of ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, but we must concede that they’ve been doing this a long time and are skilled at it. Lunardi has Georgia a No. 8 seed in the East; Palm has Georgia a No. 9, also in the East. That would mean the Bulldogs, should they survive their opening game, will surely face No. 1 Virginia, which in many ways is even harder to play than Kentucky.
Lunardi and Palm assume Georgia State, which is tied for first in the Sun Belt with UL Monroe and Georgia Southern with games upcoming against each, will win its conference tourney and will be assigned a No. 14 seed. Lunardi has the Panthers facing Oklahoma; Palm opts for Maryland as the opponent. The 3-against-14 games are traditionally where the first shockers occur, and Georgia State would have a real shot against the likes of the Sooners or the Terrapins. But first it has to get there.
Where you don’t want to be is a No. 15 seed. This year’s No. 2s appear very strong. Again, Lunardi and Palm agree on Wisconsin, Arizona, Gonzaga and Kansas. We can argue that the Badgers and the Wildcats are on a par with Duke and Villanova, who are assigned No. 1 seeds, and the Zags aren’t far off.
Oh, and for your viewing pleasure: In today’s AJC, I mention Kentucky’s 92-90 victory over Indiana in the 1975 Mideast Regional final that denied Bobby Knight’s Hoosiers in their first crack at an unbeaten NCAA title. (They would succeed the next season, though IU backers believe the ’75 team was slightly better.) Video of that epic has popped up on YouTube, and I spent 38 minutes yesterday watching the speeded-up action with the accompanying commentary by Cawood Ledford, the peerless voice of the Wildcats.
If you’ve never seen the game — and I watched it on TV as it happened but not again for 39 years — I’d advise you to take a look. Indiana was among the greatest teams ever, but Kentucky, having been embarrassed 98-74 by the Hoosiers in Bloomington on a December day when Knight slapped Joe B. Hall in the back of the head, played with a fury that, even in washed-out color, is palpable.
And if you never heard Cawood, who retired in 1992 and who died in 2001 … well, you’re in for a treat. At calling a college basketball game, he was the best.