I think Washington getting that one slot was the biggest surprise to me. But I think it’s great that their schedule has been tough enough to warrant that number-one seeding. And I’m certain that the national exposure with that game on TV all over the country yesterday made a huge difference for them, and I’m very pleased for them. I had said going into this that I felt that there were only two solid number one’s: Illinois and North Carolina. And I really thought that there were two slots that were still open. And that’s exactly what proved to be the case. As far as the brackets are concerned, that Syracuse bracket I think would sort of be similar to what our bracket was a year ago. There are a lot of teams with a lot of traditions in the Syracuse region. Otherwise I think the committee did a good job. There are going to be people screaming and hollering about not getting in, but that happens every year. We’ve been in 21 straight here and five in a row at Iowa, so 26 out of the last 27 years, and every year there have been four or five teams that thought they were treated unfairly, but I know how hard that committee works, and you’re not going to please everybody. But I do think they did a good job.
So, had you won that game yesterday...
Oh yeah, we would have been a number one seed if we hadn’t lost. Washington got it sooner than we would have gotten it because we were the Pac-10 (regular season) champ.
Can you talk about facing a 14-seed? Because that’s probably the last kind of team you want to face.
No, we’ve faced all kinds of teams now. That’s why we play the teams that we do in our non-conference schedule. Washington State in our league. We’ve had some other teams that have tried to play us more controlled this year, too. Stanford is certainly not running up and down the court. Stew Morrill does a great job up there. It’s from that group of coaches that worked under Jud Heathcoat at Michigan State, Don Monson, Mike Montgomery, Kelvin Sampson. There’s no question that Stew is an outstanding coach and they will be a well-disciplined team. But we think we can play that way, too.
Did you see the Utah State game last night?
No, but we have tapes right now that are being copied, so I’ll have the tapes in my hands in 35 minutes. We have the Utah tape of course because we played Utah, and (Utah State) manhandled Utah. But we have their Pacific games. We have other games in there that we’ll be able to use.
The first couple games are always crazy in the first round. Do you see any difference in that this year?
There are going to be some great first-round games. Right away, when you look at the seven, eight, nine seeded teams and who they’re playing, there are some that I think jump right out. LSU, I even think Old Dominion is a whole lot better team than people give them credit for. Charlotte plays N.C. State. I think that’s going to be a really interesting one. LSU-UAB is going to be a really good one I think. Texas Tech and UCLA.
Is it better to get a more challenging opponent in the first round?
I don’t know. When you get into the NCAA Tournament, you’d better play well. There aren’t any bad teams in there. Just like Penn representing the Ivy League, playing Boston College. That’s not a gimme the way Penn plays. There are some really good match-ups, I think. Last year was the most closely contested NCAA Tournament in history, and I think that’s going to be the case and continue to be that way because of mid-level schools keeping their guys for four and five years and top-level schools losing some top kids.
This is a great time of year for a lot of people. Is it a great time for the coaches? For you, specifically?
I think you’re happy that you’re going to be in, but you know that every team you play is going to be a team that will play well. And you know also that teams that are lower seeds are happy to be there and are playing very loosely. It’s a different situation from the standpoint of the pressure that you face if you’re a top seed. And there’s a lot of pressure out here. And probably the degree of that pressure goes down as you go from one to two to three to four to five (seeds).
Did you think you’d be a three?
I thought we’d be a two or a three. I thought we’d likely be on the borderline. You look at the teams that ended up being two seeds, you’ve got UConn, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Wake Forest.