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Published: Monday, 3/16/2009

Big East lands 3 No. 1 seeds in NCAA

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Big East put up a big number Sunday: Three No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

Louisville, Pittsburgh and Connecticut helped the Big East, a group originally created for basketball only, become the first conference to put three teams on the top line. North Carolina, the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference champion, was the other top seed.

Louisville was the top overall seed in the tournament and will play in the Midwest. The Cardinals will open against the winner of an opening-round game Tuesday night between Alabama State and Morehead State.

The rest of the tournament starts Thursday and Friday. The Final Four is scheduled for Ford Field in Detroit on April 4 and 6.

Pitt was the top seed in the East, Carolina in the South and UConn in the West, the region the Huskies were in when they won their championships in 1999 and 2004.

Of the four top seeds, coach Rick Pitino's Cardinals were the only team to win their conference tournament. Louisville entered the Big East conference tournament as the top seed, though Pitt and UConn were more highly regarded throughout the regular season, each spending time at No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.

But there was a lot of switching in the top spot this season - it changed hands seven times, to be exact - so it was no surprise there would be some debate about the No. 1 seeds.

For instance, Duke wound up a second seed despite winning the ACC tournament, beating the Florida State team the Tar Heels had lost to the day before. But North Carolina swept Duke in the regular season

Memphis (31-3) got snubbed, taking the second seed in the West despite a 25-game winning streak. The Tigers are often downgraded for playing in the less-than-steller Conference USA.

Arizona extended its string of tournament appearances to a quarter century - just barely, as a 12th seed in the Midwest.

Ohio State is one of five teams from the Buckeye state in the field. The others are Akron, Xavier, Dayton, and Cleveland State.

The ACC, Big East and Big Ten all placed seven teams in the tournament.

The Big 12 and Pac-10 placed six teams apiece, while the A-10 and SEC had three.



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