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Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - Page updated at 07:30 p.m.

Bud Withers
Bracket racket: Looking ahead to the NCAA tournament

By Bud Withers
Seattle Times college basketball reporter

Bracket racket:

• What's become increasingly apparently in recent years is that the NCAA selection process is orderly and relatively equitable for the so-called "preferred" high seeds, but lower in the bracket, it can be a complete crapshoot. Oregon's No. 12 seeding was loony, California's round-of-64 rematch with UNLV is almost unprecedented, and both the Ducks and Bears get the favorable San Jose site.

• True, there wasn't a lot of seeding love thrown the Pac-12's way, but five teams made it, as opposed to the slim pickin's (two) of 2012.

• It's 30 years since Jim Valvano partied in Albuquerque, and 40 years since Bill Walton's 21-for-22 shooting night to beat Gene Bartow's Memphis State team in the final. No doubt he'd say it had something to do with John Wooden's Pyramid of Success.

• I'm assuming Lorenzo Romar has had several extended conversations already with Mark Few on how to beat BYU.

• The South: The royalty region, with North Carolina, Kansas and UCLA.

• The stumbles of multiple bubble teams in their conference tournaments last week — Virginia, Kentucky, Baylor, Tennessee, Louisiana Tech — should tell us that a 68-team field is plenty.

• It was those missteps that helped open the at-large door for Middle Tennessee State, a team with exactly one win against the RPI top 100, and when has that happened?

• Jeff Goodman of CBSSports suggests that small-conference regular-season winners who get upset in their tournaments should get a second chance for the automatic bid by playing the tournament champ. Tough to see how that could fly, especially for TV. And remember, it's the leagues, not the NCAA, that determine how to award the automatic bid.

• Little did we know back in November, Washington was hosting three NCAA-tournament teams — Albany, Colorado State and Saint Louis.

• Kris Kassel, associate athletic director at Gonzaga, estimates there were 15,000 T-shirts from all sources sold in the first week after the Zags' initial No. 1 ranking March 4. Meanwhile, Fanatics.com, a retail website, says Gonzaga's 514-percent increase in March over a year ago tops all schools, and 65 percent of the sales have come from out of state.

• Gonzaga turned away people for its team banquet Friday night, capping it at about 800. Praising Mike Hart, the ex-walk-on, Few said, " 'Rudy' was a great story. But Rudy never got to play."

• What can you say about Adidas' new Adizero uniforms (Notre Dame, Cincinnati) that hasn't already been said, other than something nice?

• Bill Hogan, Seattle U athletic director, says coach Cameron Dollar will "absolutely" be back next season, and Johnny O'Brien, the former SU great, sees an "upswing" on the horizon, the men's program even getting a lift from the recent success of the women there. In addition to an 8-22 season, Dollar has to turn around the atmosphere at KeyArena, which was mostly dreadful this year.

• One way for WSU fans to look at it: Since Tony Bennett left, he's been to only one more NCAA tournament than Ken Bone. But I'm told the prospective talent for the Cougars might not be as abundant next season as some fans are projecting. Think of it this way: If you're not 9-9 in the conference — where Washington and Arizona State were this season — you're probably not good enough to make the NIT.

• About Ben Howland at UCLA: If you're still on the hot seat after a Pac-12 regular-season title, when won't you be? Bill Plaschke in the LA Times wrote over the weekend, "There is word that a $2.3 million buyout is already in place. There is a feeling that only a Sweet 16 appearance could save his job, and even that might not be enough." Even without injured Jordan Adams?

• Howland is advocating that Congress step in and do something about the NBA's 19-and-under "one-and-done" rule. Good luck with a group that can't agree on whom to send out for coffee.

• It says here Peyton Siva is going to be wearing nets in Atlanta on April 8, chilling with his Louisville teammates in one shining moment.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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