Please NCAA, anyone but Vermont

The 65-team NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament field was released on Sunday night, and the No. 4-ranked Syracuse Orange received their first No. 1 seed in 30 years. Syracuse (28-4) should pull up a chair at that complaint table with fellow upstate N.Y. schools Cornell and Siena.

The Syracuse University basketball wants to forever forget two memorable upsets in their NCAA history. The most memorable was in 1991 when the Orangemen, led by stars Adrian Autry and Billy Owens, became the first No. 2 seed to lose in the first round after losing to No. 15 seed Richmond, 73-69. The game was broadcast on CBS in prime time, setting the shock tones of March Madness reverberating across the country. Luckily, the Spiders, a No. 7 seed in 2010, are across the bracket in the South Region.

The other forgettable upset occurred in 2005, when Syracuse entered the tournament as a No. 4 seed. The Orange had Big East Player of the Year Hakim Warrick and, of course, G-Mac. The Orange drew 13th-seed Vermont and famously fell to the Catamounts and mop-topped forward Taylor Coppenwrath, 60-57. Catamount head coach Tom Brennan thought so much of the victory, that he took that moment to quite while he was on top, retiring after a second-round loss.

The Orange and Catamounts meet again on Friday night in Buffalo at 9:30 p.m. If Syracuse keeps this Vermont ghoul in the closet, the road to the West Regional championship will involve just one more exorcism—that is Pittsburgh, a team that topped the Orange on January 2.

In previous years, the NCAA committees have looked for these mid-majors to play big away games to gain respectability. I guess barely losing at Kansas and winning at an SEC school wasn’t enough to vault Cornell out of a #12 seed. A small consolation for the Big Red is should they make the Sweet Sixteen, the games will be played an hour from campus at the Carrier Dome.

Cornell matches up with another team that got little respect, the Temple Owls, who got little reward for its third straight A-10 championship. Mentor (Temple coach Fran Dunphy) meets pupil (Big Red coach Steven Donahue) in an attempt to make an intriguing first-round game. Read Phil Sheridan’s profile in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer to find out the most intriguing Temple player: Argentine guard Juan Fernandez.

As for Siena, kicking a small dog is not just, NCAA. The Saints wasn’t apart of the NCAA cost-saving measures despite being the darlings of the last two NCAA Tournaments. Siena was handed plane tickets to Spokane, Washington. UCLA flew the farthest in 2009 (over 3,000 miles to Philadelphia), and still hasn’t recovered.

May the best ghoul win.

For complete NCAA tournament information, click here.

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