Monday , Mar , 14 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

North Carolina and defending champ UConn head Syracuse bracket

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Despite a loss in the ACC Tournament
semifinals, North Carolina was rewarded for its stellar regular season with a
No. 1 seed in the Syracuse bracket of the NCAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, defending national champion Connecticut was also placed in the
Syracuse bracket as the No. 2 seed.

The Tar Heels (27-4) are a No. 1 seed for the 10th time in their storied
history. In addition, the Heels were also rewarded with a trip to nearby
Charlotte for the first and likely second round.

“Earning a No. 1 seed is truly a reward for a fantastic season. I am pleased
we are playing in Charlotte because it means more of our fans will be able to
watch us in person,” said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams.

North Carolina, which won the ACC regular season crown and lost in the
tournament semifinals to Georgia Tech, last earned a top seed in 1998, and
won the NCAA title in 1982 and 1993 as a No. 1 seed.

The Tar Heels will play their first tournament game on Friday against the
winner of the opening-round tilt between Mid-Continent winner Oakland and SWAC
champ Alabama A&M. Oakland is the lone team in the field with a losing record
at 12-18.

Should North Carolina win its first-round game, and no No. 1 seed has ever
lost to a 16 seed, the Tar Heels would face the winner of the eight-nine game
between Minnesota (21-10) and Iowa State (18-11).

Connecticut (22-7), which lost in the Big East semifinals after sharing the
regular season conference title, will begin defense of its national crown
against Atlantic Sun champion Central Florida (24-8) on Friday in Worcester,
Massachusetts. A battle between North Carolina teams will also take place on
Friday in Worcester when seventh-seeded Charlotte (21-7) meets North Carolina
State (19-13).

Syracuse first-round games will also be played on Friday in Nashville when
fifth-seeded Villanova (22-7) takes on Mountain West champ New Mexico (26-6)
and SEC Tournament champ Florida (23-7), the fourth seed, faces Mid-American
winner Ohio (21-10).

Also on Friday in Oklahoma City, third-seeded Kansas (23-6) will square off
against Patriot League winner Bucknell (22-9) and sixth-seeded Wisconsin
(22-8) will tackle Northern Iowa (21-10).

Should form hold in the difficult Syracuse bracket, the Florida/Villanova
winner could meet North Carolina, and Kansas could face Connecticut. If Kansas
and North Carolina win out, Williams could face his old Kansas team in the
regional final.

However, Connecticut’s recent strong play should carry deep into the tourney
and the Husky front line of Charlie Villanueva, Josh Boone and Rudy Gay should
be enough to topple Wayne Simien and Kansas, setting up a rematch of an
earlier season meeting between UConn and North Carolina.

The Tar Heels pulled out that February 13 contest in Hartford, 77-70, and will
likely do so again in the Carrier Dome to make the Final Four for the first
time since 2000.