Tournament Challenge: Not much love for Xavier

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No. 2 seed North Carolina just missed out on a No. 1 seed after falling to Virginia in the ACC Tournament title game.

The pressure will be higher than ever for the Cavaliers (31-2) to do it now.

"I told our players that everyone can play if they're in there", Bennett said in a teleconference Sunday after the pairings were released. If they meet in the regional final, the first to 50 might win. It is common for people to place bets on the teams they think will win, and many even fill out entire brackets that indicate which teams they see beating which.

Two years ago, Villanova came out on top of one of the most unbelievable championship games in the big tournament when Kris Jenkins hit the game-winning shot from beyond the arc to give the team their first title since 1985.

The Cavaliers did it with no surefire National Basketball Association lottery picks and a shutdown defense that led the nation with the fewest points allowed per game. But there was so much more that met the eye to the Wildcats' performance down the stretch of that game, as there is more than meets the eye in general with the best team in America. West Virginia and Wichita State loom in a potential second-round showdown, but the Mountaineers and Shockers have tricky opening games.

Yet the fourth-seeded Wildcats (27-7) went on to win the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles, and open NCAA play against 13-seed Buffalo (26-8) on Thursday in Boise, Idaho.

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The Spartans (29-4) are the No. 3 seed and get to stay in their home state for Friday's game against Bucknell.

Vermont reached the 2017 tournament out of the America East Conference, but the Catamounts lost in their conference tournament.

Defense rules the South Region. Villanova, Kansas and Xavier join Virginia as No. 1 seeds.

Defending national runner-up Gonzaga is a very tough No. 4 seed as they'll have to get by No. 13 seed UNC Greensboro in the first game.

16-LIU-Brooklyn vs. 16-Radford, 6:40 11-St. He could be the first player selected in the NBA Draft.

These shows will include "The Road to the Final Four" and "Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off" pregame shows, "AT&T at the Half", "Capital One Tournament Central" and the "Inside March Madness presented by Buick" postgame show.

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Hampton earned an automatic bid to the NIT by virtue of their regular-season title in the Mideastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Sophomore guard Tony Carr was selected first-team All-Big Ten and USBWA All-District and to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.

MARSHALL VS. MARSHALL: One first-round game that should be fun to watch is Wichita State and coach Gregg Marshall against Marshall.

St. Bonaventure, which is 25-7 on the season, will be making the seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in the program's history and second under Schmidt. The Lumberjacks knocked off West Virginia in 2016 as a No. 14 seed and then gave Notre Dame a terrific game before falling 76-75.

Marshall won't be able to match Marshall's Shockers in terms of talent, but plays a freewheelng style under coach Dan D'Antoni that's hard to prepare for on short notice.

The Musketeers (28-5) are No. 1 in the West Region and will face the First Four victor between North Carolina Central and Texas Southern on Thursday in Nashville. The next year, he guided the Hokies to the NIT, then made the jump to the Big Dance last season.

Villanova opens against the LIU Brooklyn-Radford victor on Thursday in Pittsburgh. This is Tony Bennett's third 30-win team at Virginia, and the break-through is coming. The worst odds: Nine teams at 1,000-1, including Montana, Belmont and Savannah State.

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