Georgetown, winner of 12 of its last 13 games including the Big East Conference tournament championship, was seeded No. 1 yesterday in the West Regional of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament and will play its first game Saturday at Logan, Utah.
The Hoyas (26-6), one of 16 teams in the 48-team field to receive first-round byes, will play the winner of Thursday night's Wyoming-Southern California game. Other top seeded teams in Georgetown's regional are, in order, Oregon State, Idaho and Fresno State.
In the National Invitation Tournament, all 32 bids were announced, Maryland, American University and Virginia Tech being among those chosen. The tournament starts Wednesday; the Eagles open Thursday night at 9 at Bradley and the Terrapins open Friday at Richmond at 7:30 p.m.
In the NCAA's Division II tournament, the University of the District of Columbia plays Cheyney State in a quarterfinal game Saturday night at 8 at the Physical Activities Center on the Van Ness Campus. The next round is at Springfield, Mass., March 19-20.
In Division I, the selection of Georgetown as a regional top seed--along with North Carolina in the East, Virginia in the Mideast and De Paul in the Midwest--was the major surprise when the Division I men's basketball committee announced the 20 at-large teams, pairings and seedings for the tournament that concludes with the final four in New Orleans March 27 and 29.
If form follows, one national semifinal would pair Georgetown and Patrick Ewing, its highly touted 7-foot freshman center, against Virginia and 7-4 Ralph Sampson, last season's college player of the year. The other would be North Carolina, with James Worthy and Sam Perkins, against De Paul, with Terry Cummings. Arguably, these are the best five big men in college basketball.
Among the possible matchups in the round of 32 is a first meeting between Louisville and Kentucky.
The Big East, Atlantic Coast and Big Ten conferences are the only ones with more than two teams in the tournament. Each has four: Virginia, Wake Forest and North Carolina State joining champion and top-ranked North Carolina in the ACC; Villanova, St. John's and Boston College joining champion Georgetown in the Big East, and defending national champion Indiana, Iowa and Ohio State joining champion Minnesota in the Big Ten.
These conferences' domination created a geographic imbalance in which 18 teams from the East and 13 from the Mideast made the field. Only seven teams from the West are included. UCLA, Pacific-10 runner-up, is ineligible because of a two-year probation. The Bruins had played in 16 straight NCAA tournaments.
The tournament includes only two members of a vanishing breed, the independent: De Paul and Marquette.
There are two schools of thought concerning Georgetown's positioning in the West Regional.
Some say Georgetown received a break by being removed from other powerful teams east of the Mississippi River and will adjust to the 1,900-mile trip and 4,500-foot altitude of Logan and Provo, Utah, site of the regional semifinals and final. Others point to the fact that six of the top 12 teams in last week's Associated Press poll will be in the West Regional.
But the NCAA committee, chaired by Dave Gavitt, athletic director at Providence and commissioner of the Big East Conference, disagreed with last week's polls, seeding Georgetown higher than either Oregon State or Idaho. (The other ranked teams in the West Regional are West Virginia, Iowa and Fresno State.)
One person who disagreed strongly with the picks of the committee was Bradley Coach Dick Versace, who claimed Gavitt was partial to his conference. "Gavitt and his friends, the East Coast is all they hear about," Bradley told the Chicago Sun-Times. The Braves (21-10) won the regular-season Missouri Valley championship, but Tulsa got the bid that goes with winning the tournament.
Georgetown was one of three East teams among the top four seeds. In making the announcement of pairings, Gavitt said the goal of the committee was to balance each region competitively. "Georgetown, in our opinion, paired with Oregon State as a one-two punch in the West gave that region the same kind of balance as the two ACC teams almost by themselves."
Georgetown Coach John Thompson said he would not be drawn into the controversy. "Anywhere you go at this stage . . . is a hard road to New Orleans. I don't want to get myself caught up in the pros and cons. I just want to get out there and play." Thompson said he was not that surprised at his team's top seeding in a regional because "we've been one of the most hyped teams this year."
Two seasons ago Georgetown, then seeded third in the East, went to the regional final, losing by one point to Iowa. That is the only time in five NCAA tournament appearances under Thompson that the Hoyas have made it past the first game. This Georgetown team has more depth and overall talent than two years ago, and Thompson notices one important similarity.
"We've won some ball games not playing as well as I'd like to," he said, "and sometimes that's the sign of a good team . . . That team a couple of years ago did the same thing. This team has done that a couple of times against very solid teams and I think that's a good sign.
"I have a lot of confidence in my team. I think they've played hard. I think they're up. I think they know the schedule at this time of the year. We're getting the reputation of being a February team. I don't think that's the worst reputation you can have."
Wyoming (22-6), the Western Athletic Conference champion, defeated American University by eight points early in the season. AU Coach Gary Williams, whose team lost to five NCAA-bound teams, said Wyoming was second best among them to Georgetown. He also lost to Tennessee, Wake Forest and St. Joseph's. Williams said Wyoming is not as quick as Georgetown, but has the size--a front line of 7-0, 6-9 and 6-8--to hold its own rebounding, shoots well and plays tough, physical defense. The 6-8 player, Bill Garnett, is a top pro prospect.
USC (19-8), led by guard Dwight Anderson, finished third in the Pac-10. Fresno State (26-2) is considered one of the country's best defensive teams; Coach Boyd Grant has played frequently at a slower offensive tempo, a technique that has bothered the Hoyas at times this season.
Thompson said it will take two days for his team to adjust to time zone and altitude changes. He plans to leave Washington late Wednesday or early Thursday. "That would be ideal," he said, "plus you get a chance to see them (Saturday's opponent) play on Thursday."
Asked about his team's health going into the tournament, Thompson said that guard Fred Brown, who suffered an injury to his right thigh in Saturday's 72-54 victory over Villanova for the Big East championship, was limping badly yesterday. He also said that forward Eric Smith is still having trouble with a bad ankle.
Thompson was excited about progress of his three highly recruited freshmen. Forward William Martin and forward-guard Anthony Jones joined Ewing in playing key roles in the Big East tournament. "They're not tentative and tight . . . That makes me happy."
Frank Rienzo, Georgetown athletic director, should be happy, too. Teams will receive record payoffs for participating in this year's tournament. First-or second-round losers get about $121,000, regional participants should get about $364,000 and teams in the national semifinals are expected to get slightly more than $500,000.