FINALS WATCH: Sights and sounds in North Texas Print
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Sunday, 06 April 2014 13:16
NCAAB Headline News


 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - NCAA basketball committee chairman Ron Wellman paused to consider whether it was good or bad for the selection group that the Kentucky-Connecticut championship game is the highest seeding total since the format was adopted in 1979.
''I don't think it's bad,'' Wellman, the athletic director at Wake Forest, said Sunday. ''I wouldn't say it's good either. It's unique for sure.''
Monday night's matchup includes the eighth-seeded Wildcats and their collection of potential ''one and done'' freshmen against the No. 7 seed Huskies, who knocked off overall top seed Florida in the semifinals on Saturday.
Kentucky (29-10) was a conundrum because the gaggle of high school all-stars had double-digit losses after getting the preseason No. 1 nod from The Associated Press.
Connecticut (31-8) came from the American Athletic Conference, which pundits thought was undervalued by the committee.
Defending national champion Louisville got a No. 4 seed even though the Cardinals were hot late in the season and Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown's SMU team was snubbed before reaching the NIT title game.
''We talked in the committee room that you could actually take a whole line of seeds just about at any location and adjust it two lines and nobody would even know the difference because there's that much parity in college basketball today,'' Wellman said. ''My personal opinion is that you're probably going to see these types of seeds doing well in the future in college basketball because I don't think we're going to lose parity in college basketball.''
It's also worth noting that the highest combined seeding also involves teams with 11 championships between them - eight for Kentucky and three for UConn. The latest titles are recent, too - UConn in 2011 and Kentucky a year later.
''I don't think we were an eight seed and I don't think Connecticut was a seven seed, and I don't think Pitt was a nine seed and I don't think Louisville was a four seed,'' Kentucky coach John Calipari said. ''Now, the problem with that is the other teams in those pockets get hurt.''
Best example: undefeated Wichita State. The Shockers were 35-0 when they fell to Kentucky in the round of 32 in one of the best games of the tournament. The Wildcats also beat Louisville in the Sweet 16.
- Schuyler Dixon - https://twitter.com/apschuyler
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There is still some German basketball flavor in North Texas even with Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks on a West Coast trip.
Connecticut senior Niels Giffey is playing for an NCAA championship when the Huskies face Kentucky. Nowitzki won't get a chance to see his fellow countryman in Monday night's title game.
''He's the German basketball player and he's just the guy everybody looks up to,'' Giffey, who is from Berlin, said of Nowitzki.
Giffey said he tried to get in contact with Nowitzki before the Final Four to let him know he had a ticket if he wanted one. But the Mavericks are on a four-game, six-day trip through Tuesday night.
- Stephen Hawkins - https://twitter.com/hawkaptexas
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Players from Kentucky were looking for something to do earlier this week when Julius Randle, who grew up in the Dallas area, suggested they head over to a local driving range.
Hilarity ensued.
''Have you seen Dakari's video?'' Randle asked of 7-foot freshman teammate Dakari Johnson, whose disjointed swing makes Charles Barkley look more like Tiger Woods. ''It was just terrible.''
When asked for his own assessment of his play, Johnson replied with a shake of his head, ''Not very good.''
Sophomore forward Alex Poythress said that senior guard Jon Hood and junior guard Tod Lanter were the best players, ''but I like to say I'm one of the best. When I hit the ball, it goes far.''
Good, bad, somewhere in between - that was hardly the point. Randle said all that really mattered was getting a chance to spend time together.
''I mean, it was just kind of fun, the bond we had through that experience, making fun of each other,'' he said. ''It just kind of speaks to how this year went.''
- Dave Skretta - https://www.twitter.com/apdaveskretta
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Kentucky's nail-biting win over Wisconsin to get to Monday's NCAA title game in Texas set off a raucous celebration back in Lexington that got a little out of hand.
Authorities said more than 40 small fires were doused, most involving couches or trash, following the 74-73 victory over the Badgers on Saturday. About a dozen people were treated for minor injuries, and several people were arrested.
Randle knew about the partying back home, though it was unclear if he was aware of exactly what happened. He described the scene as a ''zoo.''
''It is crazy,'' the star forward said Sunday. ''Back home they are burning things, pulling stop signs out of the ground, and I saw pictures of people swinging from trees. It is definitely encouraging and it makes you feel good about yourself that you can bring joy to a community.''
- Genaro Armas - https://twitter.com/GArmasAP
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Former Ohio State and NBA player Jim Jackson is sticking around for all of the Final Four as an analyst for the Big Ten Network.
He had to say goodbye to his son, Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson, after the Badgers' last-second loss to Kentucky late Saturday night.
Jackson's expression never changed as he watched from one of the media sections while his son was at the center of the dramatic ending against the Wildcats.
Traevon Jackson missed a free throw and then made two to break a 71-all tie after getting fouled on a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left. After Aaron Harrison's go-ahead 3 for Kentucky, Jackson missed a pullup jumper at the buzzer.
The closest thing the elder Jackson showed to a reaction was leaning back in his chair and grimacing after his son had Wisconsin's only missed free throw in 20 attempts.
''It's my nature even when I played, I was a calm person,'' said Jackson, who spent three years with the Buckeyes before a 15-year NBA career that started in Dallas as a No. 4 overall pick and eventually included 12 teams. ''It's tough for me because I don't want to see my son disappointed.''
The younger Jackson just finished his third season with the Badgers.
''His spirits were I'm not going to say down because he was here for a reason,'' his father said. ''It hurt because he probably felt he let his teammates down by not making the shot. But he knows there's a bigger picture.''
- Schuyler Dixon - https://twitter.com/apschuyler
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NCAA Finals Watch follows the Final Four games and all the activities surrounding the event as seen by journalists from The Associated Press in North Texas - from the big stadium in Arlington where the games are being played to downtown Dallas. Follow AP reporters on Twitter where available.
 

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