Monday , Mar , 12 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Tar Heels, Hoyas head East bracket

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – North Carolina and Georgetown headline
the East region of the NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina (28-6), which beat NC State in Sunday’s ACC Tournament final,
is the top seed in the East. The Tar Heels will face Ohio Valley Conference
champion Eastern Kentucky in the first round on Thursday in Winston-Salem.

The Tar Heels are into the Big Dance for a fourth straight year. In 2005, the
Tar Heels won it all, but last year they were unceremoniously bounced by
Cinderella George Mason in the second round.

The Hoyas are seeded second and will take on Belmont, the Atlantic Sun
Conference Tournament winners, Thursday at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial
Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Georgetown (26-6), which picked up
its first Big East championship since 1989 with a victory over Pittsburgh
Saturday night, was beaten by Florida in the regional semifinals in last
year’s NCAA Tournament.

“You know you’re going to play against a good team, you know you’re going to
play against a team that’s playing well and a team that’s well-coached,”
Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “All the teams in the tournament
probably fit that bill. All our energy is on Belmont right now.”

The last time a Georgetown team was seeded No. 2 was during the 1995-96
season, when the Hoyas advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to
Massachusetts.

If North Carolina, as expected, beats Eastern Kentucky, a second-round matchup
awaits between No. 8 Marquette and Michigan State. The Spartans are in the
NCAA Tournament for a 10th straight season, the second-longest string in Big
Ten history.

There’s one other game in Winston-Salem Thursday, between seventh seed Boston
College and Texas Tech. This is the fourth time in six seasons that Coach Bob
Knight has taken the Red Raiders to the tourney. He took Texas Tech to the
Sweet 16 in the 2004-2005 season.

There will be a pair of games Thursday in Sacramento from the East region.
Third seed Washington State takes on Oral Roberts, winners of the Mid-
Continent Conference, while sixth seed Vanderbilt takes on Atlantic-10 winners
George Washington.

The Cougars are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994.

“It was pretty special to see our name called,” Washington State coach Tony
Bennett said. “We knew we were in, but it still makes your heart race a little
bit; you are just wondering who you are playing and where you are playing.”

Texas is seeded fourth in the region, while Southern California is fifth. The
Longhorns, who lost to Kansas in the Big 12 final Sunday, will take on New
Mexico State, winners of the Big West Conference, Friday in Spokane. The
Trojans will battle Arkansas at the same site.

The Longhorns will try to ride the momentum of the incredible play of freshman
sensation Kevin Durant, who finished with 37 points and 10 rebounds in an
overtime loss to Kansas Sunday.

Despite that defeat, Durant understands the priorities of the Longhorns.

“It is the bigger picture. It is a bigger week next week,” Durant said. “We
just got to bounce back off this loss and get ready for the tournament.”

The East regional semifinals and final will be held at Continental Airlines
Arena in North Jersey.