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

Oden and Buckeyes, roaring Tigers highlight South

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Ohio State hasn’t been to the national
title game since 1962, but freshman sensation Greg Oden may have something to
say about that.

Oden, who has been a force inside all season for the Buckeyes, has helped Ohio
State (30-3) already to the Big Ten Tournament title and now the top seed in
the South.

Although fans have encouraged Oden to return for another season, it’s likely
he’ll make the jump to the NBA. However, before then he’ll try to help Ohio
State to its second national title, joining the 1960 team that featured John
Havlicek.

The Buckeyes, whose 1999 Final Four appearance was stricken from NCAA records
due to rules violations under head coach Jim O’Brien, will tangle with
Northeast Tournament winner Central Connecticut State on Thursday in
Lexington.

“We’re just playing each game as that game,” Ohio State’s Mike Conley Jr.
said. “We’re not worried about what’s ahead of us and focusing on seeding and
who we play next. It’s just one game at a time.”

Memphis is the second seed and will take on Sun Belt champs North Texas on
Friday in New Orleans. The Tigers (30-3) won the Conference USA Tournament for
the second straight year and will enter the NCAA Tournament with a 22-game
winning streak, the longest in the nation. Memphis was eliminated by UCLA in
the Elite Eight a year ago.

“All of those people who said we were a third or fourth seed weren’t even
close,” Memphis coach John Calipari said. “We were a solid two. Now we’ve got
to go play that way.”

Assuming Memphis wins, the Tigers would play the winner of the 7-10 matchup
between Nevada and Missouri Valley champion Creighton. The four-time Western
Athletic Conference champion Wolf Pack are making their fourth consecutive
NCAA Tournament appearance and the sixth in school history. Nevada holds a 3-5
overall record in NCAA Tournament games.

Texas A&M, led by super senior guard Acie Law, is seeded third and will play
Ivy League champion Penn Thursday afternoon in Lexington. The Quakers have
lost their last eight NCAA Tournament games, having last won in 1994 with a
victory over Nebraska in the first round, but that doesn’t matter to Law.

“It is a very high honor to make the NCAAs and to be the top seed in Texas A&M
history,” Law said. “We have to focus on Penn. We know they are a solid team
and they compete hard.”

Louisville coach Rick Pitino, a former coach at Kentucky, returns to Rupp
Arena in Lexington as his sixth-seeded Cardinals play Stanford in a Cardinals
vs. Cardinal matchup. Stanford (18-12), which lost four of its last five
games, was considered one of the final teams to make it into the field of 65.

The other game in Lexington on Thursday will be Thursday night with eighth
seed BYU going against Xavier.

Virginia, the fourth seed, and Tennessee, the No. 5 seed, will play their
first-round games Friday in Columbus. The Cavaliers match up against Albany,
winners of the America East tourney, while the Volunteers battle Big West
victor Long Beach State.

The South regional semifinals and final will be held at the Alamodome in San
Antonio.