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Ole Miss gets No. 3 seed in Midwest, battles Iona

By Staff
From staff, wire reports
March 12, 2001
JACKSON Ole Miss is going to Kansas City, along with Notre Dame and Arizona, for the first-round of the NCAA tournament.
The Rebels (25-7), who were blown out in the Southeastern Conference tournament final Sunday by Kentucky, are seeded third in the Midwest regional.
Ole Miss will play 14th-seed Iona (22-10), the champion of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, in the first round at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.
The No. 3 seed is the highest ever for a men's college team from the state of Mississippi.
This NCAA tournament is the big thing we've been looking forward to all year,'' all-SEC forward Rahim Lockhart said after the Rebels' 77-55 loss to Kentucky.
If the Rebels can get past the Gaels, the winner of Notre Dame (19-9) and Xavier (21-7) awaits.
On the other side of the bracket in Kansas City, No. 2 seed Arizona looms. The Wildcats began the season as the No. 1 team in the nation. Injuries, suspensions and the death of coach Lute Olson's wife contributed to their early season struggles.
But since Pac-10 play began in January, the Wildcats have again looked like one of the best teams in the country.
Arizona was runner-up to No. 1 Stanford in the Pac-10 and beat the Cardinal early this week.
Arizona (23-7) plays Eastern Illinois (21-9) in the first round and Wake Forest (19-10) faces Butler (23-7) in another game at Kemper Arena.
Games in Kansas City will be played Friday and Sunday.
Starting times will be announced today.
Ole Miss missed the NCAA's last year after receiving an at-large bid the previous three seasons.
In his first season as coach, Rod Barnes led Mississippi to its first NCAA tournament victory, a 72-70 win over Villanova in 1999.
We're going in to the tournament expecting more this time around,'' Barnes said. ''(It's important) for this team to be ready and be ready to win more than one game trying to take the next step.''