The Virginia Cavaliers are downplaying any notion of payback being the driving force when they face Michigan State in the NCAA tournament's round of 32.
The Spartans aren't buying it.
"We know, there's definitely got to be a revenge factor for them," Spartans guard Travis Trice said Saturday. "It would be the same thing for us if a team put us out last year."
Michigan State knocked off top-seeded Virginia, 61-59, in last year's regional semifinal at Madison Square Garden. The teams meet again Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.
"It's not like 'Oh, revenge, we have got to get that,"' Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said.
Virginia is once again the higher seed at No. 2 - and the favorite.
The Spartans (24-11), despite a wealth of NCAA tournament experience on their roster, are the seventh seed in the East, but earned their way into the second round with a hard-fought win over 10th-seeded Georgia on Friday. And right now they are playing their best basketball of the season.
Virginia junior forward Anthony Gill said the pain from last year's loss is still fresh.
But he added they haven't spent any time worrying about getting even with the Spartans. They are simply preparing for the game like any other opponent.
"I remember in the locker room everybody just said, 'Remember how this feels,"' Gill said. "This isn't going to be a revenge game, just us going out there and do what we do."
Louisville vs. Northern Iowa. The players who put Northern Iowa hoops on the map are all gone, replaced by others who are trying to leave their own successful stamp on the program.
The new group is reminded, almost daily, about the magic of 2010, when the Panthers knocked off Kansas to make it to their first Sweet 16. Northern Iowa hasn't been that far since, and the players who are there now have to remind themselves, almost daily, that they can't get caught up in trying to repeat the past.
"That's a very important team in our school's history, and what they did for our program is off the charts," said senior Seth Tuttle, the kid from Sheffield, Iowa, who listened to the end of that Kansas game on his car radio, and knew right then that Northern Iowa was the place for him.
"But we're in a different situation now," Tuttle said.
Led by Tuttle, the quarterback-turned-post man, the Panthers are a No. 5 seed in the East Regional but still favored by 21/2 points in Sunday's game against fourth-seeded Louisville, a program that knows a little bit about consistent success. The Cardinals have been to the regional semifinals 20 times; they are going for a record fourth straight appearance.
The Panthers are back on top of the Missouri Valley Conference now. They won their program-record 31st game Friday. But those aren't really the goals at UNI anymore.
"We compare ourselves to the best," Tuttle said. "That's the only way we feel like we can go about getting better. So, when we talk about being the best defensive team, we're not just talking about in the Valley, we're talking about in the nation. When we want to have one of the most efficient offenses, we compare it to the best in the nation."
Oklahoma vs. Dayton. If Oklahoma fans are looking for someone to blame for the Sooners' having to play Dayton in a virtual road game Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, they can start with the guy running their athletic department.
Athletic director Joe Castiglione was part of the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee.
The committee's decision to place Dayton in the first four, played on the Flyers' home floor, and in a round-of-64 site 80 miles from its campus, has been one of the hot topics of the tournament.
Dayton followed up its victory against Boise State on Wednesday by beating Providence late Friday night in front of a packed, partisan house at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
The third-seeded Sooners understand the reality. Coach Lon Kruger said he will prepare his team to play a road game Sunday, but sees no reason to complain about it.
"Fair or unfair. That doesn't even come up," Kruger said Saturday. "We're playing Dayton with a crowd that's going to be pro-Dayton. We understand that it adds to the challenge."
Once Dayton was deemed to be one of the last four teams to earn an at-large bid, the committee then reasonably decided to place it in a Wednesday game instead of Tuesday.