NCAA Tournament: Gonzaga holds on against UNCG

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MI didn't look like a NCAA Tournament team at times this year, but John Beilein has his team ready to go.

Of all the No. 1 seeds, Xavier is the team that I feel the least confident in. I don't think Xavier is good enough for the 1 seed and will get exposed before the end of next weekend. Gonzaga has been a No. 4 seed once, when it went 2-1 in 2009 and lost to eventual national champion North Carolina in the Sweet 16.

COUGARS, AZTECS DANCE AGAIN: In Wichita, sixth-seeded Houston (26-7) will make its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010 when it faces No. 11 seed San Diego State (22-10).

For the Bulldogs, the season has been one of growth and maturation.

Davidson's run to the Atlantic 10 Tournament title apparently stole a bid that otherwise would have gone to Notre Dame.

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But when a team has been in these positions so many times before, it knows what it needs to do to survive and advance.

UNCG went back to the NCAA Tournament as an underdog and scared the fool out of an elite program that has been to seven Sweet Sixteens and won 10 first-round games in a row. For a mid-major team they have a solid defense and good height inside.

Michigan State is staying home as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, where the Spartans will open against 14th-seeded Bucknell at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

The Spartans carry a 27-7 record into the NCAA Tournament, and their Southern Conference regular-season and Tournament titles will boost their confidence.

The fourth-seeded Zags allowed a double-digit lead to evaporate but eventually held on to avoid being upset by No. 13 seed UNC-Greensboro in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They were awarded the No. 2 seed in the West Region and will take on Lipscomb in the first round in Charlotte.

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Gonzaga, in its 20th straight NCAA Tournament, won its first game of March Madness for the 10th straight year, though that's not the mission anymore for the Zags.

The Tar Heels have three of the top 10 teams in their bracket with Xavier, Michigan and Gonzaga.

RUST: Much has been made of the Big Ten's two-week layoff coming into the NCAAs.

Kentucky wrapped up the SEC Tournament with a 77-72 victory in the championship game against 13th-ranked Tennessee, on Sunday. Both teams are No. 1 seeds at the moment.

Oh, and Auburn is the No. 4 seed after earning the top seed in the SEC Tournament. The Wildcats responded by cruising through the Pac-12 Tournament with three wins - all by double-figured - en route to a conference championship. Hoops fans have heard of the others: Kansas, North Carolina, Arizona, Duke, Michigan State.

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