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Mock spelling of Kentucky, North Carolina: NIT

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Indianapolis — The final NCAA Tournament mock bracket completed this afternoon had the school with the second-most all-time college basketball victories among the field of 68. Kansas, seeded third in the South (Dallas) regional, faces Harvard in its first game in the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

The schools that rank first and third all-time did not make the field. Defending champion Kentucky and perennial powerhouse North Carolina are in the midst of off seasons and if they don’t get their acts together are in danger of missing the real tournament field as well.

After all the numbers were crunched, it came down to something simple. Two of the biggest names in the game fell short in the quality-victories department. North Carolina’s two best: At home against UNLV and on the road against Florida State.

Kentucky’s most impressive victory: At Ole Miss, 87-74. Wildcats freshman Norlens Noel had 12 blocked shots in that one. Noel’s gone for the season and most among us on the mock committee thought that Kentucky had a weak case even without considering that Noel’s injury weakens the defending champion even more.

The top four seeds in each region:

Midwest (Indianapolis): 1. Indiana, 2. Florida, 3. Louisville, 4. Kansas State.

South (Atlanta): 1. Duke, 2. Arizona, 3. Kansas, 4. Georgetown.

East (Washington, D.C.) 1. Miami (Fl), 2. Michigan State, 3. Syracuse, 4. Wisconsin.

West (Los Angeles) 1. Michigan, 2. Gonzaga, 3. Butler, 4. New Mexico.

The often referenced “S Curve” no longer is used by the committee. For example, Kansas was ranked No. 9 on the seed sheet but does not go to the region of the fourth No. 1 seed. Geography takes precedence.

Missouri? It’s seeded eighth in the South, meaning the earliest a fake Border War (squirt guns?) could take place would be in the Elite Eight.

Six Big 12 teams made the field, but it’s a no-no to mention conference affiliation in the committee room. Teams are treated as if all are independents, according to real NCAA selection chairman Mike Bobinski, and are evaulated on their merits. Here’s where the Big 12 teams other than KU landed:

Kansas State: Seeded fourth and faces, ahem, Bucknell in Austin and is in the Midwest (Indianapolis) region. Oklahoma State: Seeded fifth in the West (Los Angeles), facing Alabama in Salt Lake City. Oklahoma: Seeded sixth and plays San Diego State in Kansas City as part of the West regional. Baylor: Meets California in Dayton in a play-in game with the winner facing No. 5 seed Pittsburgh in Austin as part of the East regional.

Iowa State: Facing Virginia in Dayton in a play-in game with the winner facing No. 6 seed Oregon, also in Dayton as part of the East regional.

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