NCAA Talk

Irish rewarded with No. 2 seed; Illini No. 9

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Irish rewarded with No. 2 seed; Illini No. 9

Sunday, March 13, 2011
Posted 5:55 p.m. Updated 8:57 p.m.

Associated Press

Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh and defending champion Duke have been awarded the top seeds in this year's NCAA tournament, an expanded version of March Madness that will include 68 teams.

The Buckeyes defeated Penn State 71-60 in the Big Ten tournament final on Sunday and were named the top seed in the entire field. They'll play in the East region.

The tournament -- and America's most-celebrated office pool -- starts Tuesday with the first of four first-round games -- the "First Four," as it's being called by the NCAA. Two of those games will pit the last of 37 at-large teams to make it into the field, an increase of three teams over years past.

Kansas is the Big 12 champion and will play in the Southwest, while Pitt earned a top seed despite losing in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament and will play in the Southeast.

Duke beat North Carolina to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and edge out Notre Dame for the last No. 1 seed. The Blue Devils, seeking to become the first repeat champion since Florida in 2006-07, will have to travel West to make the Final Four; that regional is set for Anaheim, Calif.

The tournament concludes with the Final Four in Houston on April 2 and 4.

In the East region, Ohio State will open against the winner of an opening-round game between 16th seeds Texas-San Antonio and Alabama State. No. 8 George Mason will play No. 9 Villanova. No. 4 Kentucky will play No. 13 Princeton and No. 5 West Virginia will play the winner of a First Four matchup between No. 12 seeds UAB and Clemson.

No. 2 North Carolina will play No. 15 Long Island and No. 7 Washington will play No. 10 Georgia, a bubble team. No. 3 Syracuse will play Larry Bird's alma mater, No. 14 Indiana State and No. 6 Xavier will play No. 11 Marquette, one of four Big East teams in the East region.

In the West, Duke will start its journey near home in Charlotte, with a second-round game against No. 16 Hampton, while No. 8 Michigan will play No. 9 Tennessee. No. 5 Arizona will play No. 12 Memphis, the Conference USA champion, and No. 4 Texas plays No. 13 Oakland.

No. 2 San Diego State plays No. 15 Northern Colorado and No. 7 Temple meets No. 10 Penn State, which made the tournament despite 14 losses. Rounding out that part of the bracket, No. 3 Connecticut, the Big East tournament champion, plays No. 14 Bucknell and No. 6 Cincinnati plays No. 11 Missouri.

In the Southwest, No. 1 Kansas will open play against No. 16 Boston University and Lon Kruger will lead No. 8 UNLV against a team he used to coach, No. 9 Illinois. No. 5 Vanderbilt will play No. 12 Richmond and No. 4 Louisville will play No. 13 Morehead State.

Second-seeded Notre Dame will play 15th-seeded Akron and No. 7 Texas A&M faces No. 10 Florida State; No. 3 Purdue, winner of 10 of its last 12 games, will play the 14th-seeded St. Peter's Peacocks, while No. 6 Georgetown will play the winner of a First Four matchup between 11th-seeded Southern Cal and Virginia Commonwealth.

In the Southeast, No. 1 Pittsburgh plays the winner of 16th-seeded UNC-Ashville and Arkansas-Little Rock and last year's runner-up, No. 8 Butler, plays No. 9 Old Dominion. No. 5 Kansas State plays No. 12 Utah State and No. 4 Wisconsin plays No. 13 Belmont.

The second-seeded Florida Gators play No. 15 UC-Santa Barbara and No. 7 UCLA returns to the tournament to play No. 10 Michigan State. No. 3 Brigham Young plays No. 14 Wofford, while No. 11 Gonzaga plays No. 6 St. John's -- the 11th team from the Big East placed in the bracket.

Northwestern accepts NIT invitation

CHICAGO Northwestern won't be in the NCAA tournament but the Wildcats will be in the post season, hosting a National Invitational Tournament game.

The Wildcats (18-13) are a No. 4 seed and will host Wisconsin-Milwaukee (19-13) on Wednesday.

Northwestern finished strong with a Big Ten tournament win over Minnesota and an overtime loss to Ohio State, the NCAA's overall No. 1 seed. In a season when seven Big Ten teams made the NCAAs, the Wildcats finished eighth in the Big Ten. They had wins over two teams that made the NCAAs, Illinois and Michigan.

In the 73 seasons the NCAA tournament has been played, Northwestern has never made it.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Mark Dantonio retires from coaching Michigan State football

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USA TODAY

Mark Dantonio retires from coaching Michigan State football

Mark Dantonio led one of the best eras of Michigan State football, but announced his retirement from coaching on Tuesday.

The 63-year-old had been at the school since 2007. He led the Spartans to the College Football Playoff in 2015 and two Big Ten titles. He tweeted out a message announcing his retirement.


“After much reflection and discussion with my family, I feel that it is now time for change as we enter into a new decade of Michigan State Football,” Dantonio wrote.

The timing is unusual considering firing and hiring season in college football has long since passed. On top of that, the early signing period for recruits has already gone by. Whoever ends up being Dantonio’s replacement won’t have much time to prepare for spring practices.

Replacing Dantonio’s accomplishments at MSU won’t be easy either. Dantonio took over a program that managed one top 25 finish in its previous 16 years (and that includes a five-year Nick Saban tenure). He left having produced seven top 25 finishes and 12 bowl appearances in 13 seasons.

The Spartans made three Big Ten Championship Game appearances under Dantonio and won two of them, one of which propelled them to a national semifinal. However, the Spartans had gone 27-24 since making the playoff.

Maxwell 'Bunchie' Young from the NFL’s Super Bowl video already has a scholarship offer from Lovie Smith

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USA TODAY

Maxwell 'Bunchie' Young from the NFL’s Super Bowl video already has a scholarship offer from Lovie Smith

Remember the kid sporting the cool faux-hawk in the NFL’s star-studded Super Bowl video? There is a chance he could be coming to Urbana-Champaign in five years.

Back in 2017, University of Illinois head coach and former Bears coach Lovie Smith offered then 10-year-old Maxwell “Bunchie” Young a scholarship to play for the Fighting Illini. Bunchie, now 13, starred in the NFL’s “NEXT 100” video, in which he was seen navigating famous football faces and various locales around the US before charging the Super Bowl LIV stadium in Miami. Young had been previously profiled by ESPN and was named Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year in 2017.

The news of the scholarship offer from Illinois three years ago opened up a larger conversation around schools recruiting and offering kids at such a young age. In the case of Young, he won’t be eligible to play for the Illini until 2025. Smith’s current contract expires long before that so there's always a chance that the coaching staff that made the offer won't be in place when Young is eligible to play. According to NCAA rules, schools can't make written scholarship offers until August of the player’s senior season. Verbal offers, however, are a different story.

Young wasn’t the only Chicagoland connection in the NFL’s ode to the next 100 years of football. Bears owner Virginia McCaskey had a supporting role near the end of the video, sporting Bears gear and presenting Young with the ball before he ran into the Super Bowl stadium. McCaskey filmed her cameo at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, which led to another local highlight.

Libertyville High School’s football field made an appearance about a minute into the video, the location chosen due to its proximity to Halas Hall. About a minute in, Young is seen sprinting onto the Libertyville field to intercept a pass from Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman before holding the ball for a field-goal attempt by US women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd.