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Originally published Monday, March 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Selection committee looks good

After two rounds, Arizona — a No. 12 seed — is the only team seeded worse than fifth still playing in the NCAA tournament.

After two rounds, Arizona — a No. 12 seed — is the only team seeded worse than fifth still playing in the NCAA tournament.

The selection committee can feel free to pat itself on the back, as the top three seeds in all four regions moved on to the Sweet 16, with two No. 4 seeds and one No. 5 still alive.

The East Regional (Pittsburgh, Duke, Villanova, Xavier) and the South (North Carolina, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Gonzaga) both have their top four seeds still going. The West has its top three (Connecticut, Memphis, Missouri) along with No. 5 Purdue, which beat fourth-seeded Washington 76-74 Saturday in a second-round game in Portland.

The Midwest's top three (Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas) will be joined by Arizona.

From 2000 through last year, a total of three regions sent their top four teams to the regional semifinals: the Midwest in 2001, the East Rutherford regional in 2004 and the West in 2007.

Memphis has the longest active streak of Sweet 16 appearances at four, and North Carolina and Kansas have made three in a row.

The Big East Conference has a record five teams in the Sweet 16 — Pittsburgh, Louisville, Connecticut, Syracuse and Villanova. The Big 12 has three teams still playing — Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Arizona is the lone Pac-10 team remaining.

Of the 21-13 Wildcats' No. 12 seed, interim coach Russ Pennell said, "I think they get them right probably 99 percent of the time, and in our case with our record coming in, it's probably correct. But once you start playing the games, seeding, I think you can throw it out a lot of times, because it really comes down to one-game seasons, who is playing well on that particular night."

In an East Regional game Thursday in Boston, No. 1 seed Pittsburgh faces a Xavier team coached by Sean Miller — who is second on Pitt's career-assists list, behind Brandin Knight.

"Clearly, I always have an eye on them because they're such a terrific program, more so than when I went to school there," a joking Miller said of the Panthers.


• Second-season coach Billy Gillispie of Kentucky, a team that didn't make the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years, has heard talk about his job being in jeopardy but tries to ignore the subject.

Gillispie dismissed speculation he met with top university officials Friday. "I would say there have probably been a few rumors," he said. "I don't worry about it much."

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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