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

Duke and a few other recent NCAA champs featured in Austin

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Another year, another top seed in the NCAA
Tournament for the Duke Blue Devils.

Duke captured the ACC Tournament title on Sunday with a 69-64 win over Georgia
Tech, and the victory catapulted the Blue Devils to their seventh No. 1 NCAA
Tournament seed in the past eight years.

“I’m so proud of my team. Not just for this game, but for the entire season,”
said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski after Sunday’s triumph. “They have found
ways to win and have incredible heart.”

Last year, the Blue Devils rode a top seed in the Atlanta bracket to the Final
Four, where they lost to eventual national champion Connecticut in the
national semifinals. However, Duke has twice won it all as a top seed — 1992
and 2001.

In addition to Duke, the Austin bracket features a number of other recent NCAA
champions in Kentucky, Syracuse and Michigan State.

Syracuse, the 2003 champ, is seeded fourth and could meet 2000 winner Michigan
State in the second round, with that winner possibly taking on Duke in a
regional semifinal. Oklahoma reached the 2002 Final Four and could meet Utah
in the second round, If Utah can win two games, the Utes could have a
regional semifinal matchup against Kentucky in a rematch of the 1998 national
championship game won by the Wildcats.

Duke will play its first-round game on Friday in nearby Charlotte against MEAC
champ Delaware State (19-13), while Stanford (18-12) and Mississippi State
(22-10) meet in the eight-nine matchup.

Also on Friday, Syracuse (27-6), the Big East Tournament champ, will have a
tough first-round task in Worcester in America East winner Vermont (24-6).
Fifth-seeded Michigan State (22-6) will also open with a difficult game
against Colonial winner Old Dominion (28-5).

Thursday first-round games from the Austin bracket in Indianapolis feature
second-seeded Kentucky against state rival Eastern Kentucky (22-8) of the Ohio
Valley Conference and seventh-seeded Cincinnati (24-7) against Iowa (21-11).

On Thursday in Tucson, third-seeded Oklahoma (24-7) will meet Metro Atlantic
winner Niagara (20-9), which is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance
since 1970, while sixth-seeded Utah (27-5), the Mountain West regular season
champ, will meet WAC tourney winner Texas-El Paso (27-7).

In a bracket full of champions, look for the Erwin Center to feature four of
them — Duke and Syracuse in one regional semifinal with Kentucky and Utah in
the other. The Utes won it all way back in 1944.

Andrew Bogut could give the Wildcats fits inside, but Kentucky should still
prevail to meet Syracuse, as Big East Player of the Year Hakim Warrick will
help Gerry McNamara in his personal matchup with fellow three-point gunner
J.J. Redick of Duke.

The Orange will then have a chance to avenge the 1996 championship game loss
to Kentucky to find a way to St. Louis for a second Final Four trip in three
years.

AUSTIN