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Florida takes overall No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament

Florida takes overall No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament

ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR: Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin (5) holds up a piece of the net after the Gators became the first team in Southeastern Conference history to go 18-0 in league pla, Saturday, March 8, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 84-65 Saturday in an NCAA college basketball game. Photo: Associated Press/Phil Sandlin

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Florida heads the list of No. 1 seeds in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The top-ranked Gators have earned the first overall seed after winning the SEC tournament, running the table on their conference schedule and winning their last 26 games.

Sixth-ranked Virginia is No. 1 in the East, Florida tops the South, second-ranked Wichita State heads the Midwest and No. 4 Arizona leads the West.

Virginia joined Florida, Wichita State and Arizona as a No. 1 seed Sunday when the selection committee announced the pairings for the NCAA tournament.

The Cavaliers, widely considered a 2 or 3 seed in many mock-ups of the bracket, instead vaulted to the top of the East region. They won the ACC regular-season and tournament titles.

March Madness begins Tuesday with a pair of “First Four” games in Dayton, Ohio.

The Gators bring a 26-game winning streak into the tournament. They are seeded first in the South and are the No. 1 seed overall.

Wichita State, the top seed in the Midwest, comes in at 34-0 — the first team to enter the tournament undefeated since UNLV in 1991.

The Final Four starts April 5 in Arlington, Texas.

SYRACUSE SORT OF A MYSTERY

The Orange (27-5) earned the third seed in the South and will open play just down the road in Buffalo on Thursday against Western Michigan (23-9), the Mid-American Conference champion. But which Syracuse squad will show up — the one that won 25 straight games to start the season and zoomed to No. 1 in the country for three weeks, or the one that has lost five of its last seven games?

Coach Jim Boeheim isn’t concerned. He’s been here before. Last year’s team lost four of its final regular-season games and made it to the Final Four.

At least the team is healthy again. Forward Jerami Grant has reverted to form after injuring his back and shooting guard Trevor Cooney is expected to be at full throttle after tweaking an ankle in the ACC tournament.

LONG WAIT IS OVER

The long wait to return to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is over for Mercer and some other schools.

The last time Mercer (26-8) played in the tournament was 1985, the year of Villanova’s surprise championship. Coastal Carolina (21-12) is back for the first time since 1993. The Chanticleers are led by Cliff Ellis, who previously coached tournament teams at Auburn, Clemson and South Alabama.

Nebraska (19-11) never expected to be back this season after being picked last in the Big Ten. Massachusetts (24-8) made the tournament seven consecutive years from 1992-98 and didn’t return until now. Delaware (25-9) is back for the first time since 1999.

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