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Defending Champs Bounced from NCAA Tournament

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Commentator John Feinstein joins us now. Good morning John.

JOHN FEINSTEIN: Good morning Steve.

INSKEEP: How did George Mason do this--defeated North Carolina, the defending national champions, 65 to 60?

FEINSTEIN: A school like George Mason, they don't lose players to the NBA because they don't get players who are quite as skilled. They had three crucial seniors in their lineup yesterday. They had a team that wanted to prove it could play at that level, and they pulled off these two remarkable upsets to get to the round of 16, a week after people were saying they didn't even belong in the 65-team field.

INSKEEP: Well they've certainly put that concern to rest, and smaller conferences in general, seem to have done that.

FEINSTEIN: The committee has been vindicated in its selection, because as you mention, Wichita State, from the Missouri Valley, and Bradley from the Missouri Valley, a so-called mid-major, have both advanced, and the big ten, one of the power conferences which got six bids, has zero teams left playing in the round of 16.

INSKEEP: Now we should mention, John, that despite all of these upsets, you still do have, as we said, all four top seeds. You could conceivably end up at the end of this with the final four that's the four top teams.

FEINSTEIN: So I don't think we'll see all four number ones make it to Indianapolis a week from now, but it's certainly possible.

INSKEEP: Okay, so we have a little bit of time to recover from all the excitement. A period of mourning in North Carolina, I would imagine, and then the round of 16 begins on Thursday. What do you expect?

FEINSTEIN: I think you could see Duke and Texas play in the region final out in, down in Atlanta. That would be a great game. They played earlier in the season, and it should be another weekend just like this one.

INSKEEP: You know, if you're a school like George Mason, and you do lose in the round of 16 but you made it this far, do you go home feeling like you're a champion?

FEINSTEIN: The team of 2006 will be celebrated, there will be reunions. Its just the same for them as winning the National Championship for whomever does it in Indianapolis.

INSKEEP: John, thanks very much.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you Steve.

INSKEEP: You're listening to MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

John Feinstein
Every week since 1988, Morning Edition listeners have tuned in to hear reports and commentaries on events such as the NBA Finals, Wimbledon, the NFL playoffs, the MLB All-Star game and the U.S. Open golf championship from award-winning author John Feinstein. He has also contributed to The Washington Post and Sporting News Radio since 1992, America Online since 2000 and Golf Digest and Gold World since 2003.