Bring on the madness.

"March Madness" is officially here, as the NCAA men's tournament gets under way with Thursday-Saturday and Friday-Sunday games, after the Arkansas Pine Bluff/Winthrop game was played Tuesday night to determine who plays Duke for the final slot in the South regional.

The Tennessee Vols, after losing to Kentucky in the SEC semi-finals on Saturday, earned a sixth seed in the Midwest Region against 11th seed San Diego State in Providence, RI, with the winner playing either third-seed Georgetown or 14th-seed Ohio.

Kansas, who lost to Tennessee in January, is the top seed in the Midwest.

Vanderbilt is the fourth seed in the West Region, and plays OVC champion Murray State, the 13th seed, Thursday in San Jose, CA. The winner plays either fifth-seeded Butler or 12th-seed UTEP.

Florida earned the 10th seed, and takes on seventh-seed BYU, with the winner facing either Kansas State or North Texas.

Syracuse is the top seed in the West, and faces 16th seed Vermont.

The top-seeded Kentucky Widlcats, led by three freshmen — Jon Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe — face East Tennessee State, who have been giant killers in past NCAA Tournaments. All three Wildcat freshmen are probably going to the NBA next season.

There are some stout higher seeds who will give some lower seeds a run for their money.

SoCon champion and 13th-seed Wofford plays fourth-seed Wisconsin, with the winner facing the Temple-Cornell winner in the second round. Cornell is another one of those teams who is dangerous during tourney time. Another potential upset is 13th-seed Siena over fourth-seed Purdue without an injured Robbie Hummel.

Thirty-two teams who didn't earn berths in the NCAA opened play in the NIT, including Ole Miss, Mississppi State and Memphis.

Mississippi State hosted Jackson State Tuesday night, while Troy visits Misssipppi and St. John's travels to Memphis, both on Wednesday. Tennessee has wins over Mississippi State, Mississippi and Memphis.

There is talk about expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams, which means 31 of the 32 teams in the NIT would be eligible for the NCAA. If that happens you would have to have Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday and Wednesday-Friday-Sunday rounds of games.

•UConn, Tennessee, Stanford and Nebraska are the four top seeds in the women's NCAA tournament announced Monday evening. Tennessee could face UConn in one of the national semi-finals in San Antonio, TX, April 4, if both win their regions.

Tennessee, which is the top seed in the Memphis region, hosts Austin Peay, the OVC Tournament champion, Saturday afternoon, with the winner facing either Dayton or TCU.

Seventh-seeded LSU faces 10th-seeded Hartford, with the winner facing either Duke or Hampton in Durham, NC.

Sunbelt Tournament champion MTSU is the 10th seed in the Dayton region, and faces seventh-seed Mississippi State Sunday in Pittsburgh, with the winner facing the Ohio State/St. Francis winner. The Lady Bulldogs are coached by former UT-Chattanooga player and coach Sharon Fanning-Otis.

MTSU is coached by former Shelbyville Coach Rick Insell. Three familiar names are on the roster — Jackie Pickel (MTSU), Brandi Brown (York) and Molly McFadden (White County).

Stanford is the top seed in the Sacramento bracket.

The Georgia Lady Bulldogs, coached by Andy Landers, who coached at Roane State in the mid-1980s, is the fifth seed and faces 12th seed Tulane, with the winner facing the Oklahoma State-Chattanooga winner.

The sixth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores play 11th-seeded DePaul on Sunday in Cincinnati, with the winner facing the Xavier-ETSU winner. ETSU is the 14th-seed.

The Lady Mocs of Coach Wes Moore are the 12th seed and are the SoCon Tournament champions.

The Lady Mocs have three area players — Oliver Springs' Kayla Christopher, Cookeville's Erin Helton and Cleveland's Michelle Davis.

Nebraska is the top seed in the Kansas City region, with SEC runner-up Kentucky the fourth seed. The Lady Wildcats battle Liberty, with the winner challenging the Michigan State-Bowling Green winner.

Also, North Carolina State, coached by former White County and UT player Kelly Jolly Harper, is the ninth seed in the San Antonio region and plays eighth seed UCLA.

Expect some upsets.


According to Maurice Patton of the Tennessean Tuesday morning, TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress was to present a plan to the board of control to eliminate last year's football playoff system.

Public schools were placed into three classifications — A, AA, AAA — for the regular season and then divided into six classifications for the playoffs. The regular season was fine, but there was a lot of criticism for the playoff brackets.

I felt like there were too many teams with below .500 records in the field, and there were teams from the same region playing each other in the second week.

Let's see what happens with this.


Remember Brittany Jackson? The former Lady Vol and Bradley Central Bearette standout was on the broadcast team for the TSSAA girls state tournament championship games Saturday from Murphy Center on the MTSU campus.

Her father, Turner, was an outstanding wrestler at UT-Chattanooga and is the athletic director at Bradley Central, while her mother, Liz Hannah Jackson, was a standout player at BCHS and Cleveland State CC. Both have their jerseys retired at BCHS.

The boys state tournament gets under way Wednesday at MTSU.


All of the spring sports previews and team photos have been published. Some of the statistical information on the Lady Panther softball preview was taken from the SMHS Web site. Thanks to SMHS' Amy Newman and CCHS' Art Sanderson and their annual staffs for help on getting some photos identified.

Spring sports coaches are reminded to submit their results in a timely manner. Monday results need to be submitted by Tuesday morning, with Tuesday results being submitted by Wednesday morning, and Wednesday results by Thursday morning.

Thursday results need to be in by Friday morning, with all weekend results submitted by 8 a.m. Monday.

(Ed Greif is the Chronicle sports editor and his column appears periodically.)

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