Tourney Breakdown;

Players’ Reactions

With much anxiety, the Saint Louis University men’s soccer team waited with wide open eyes for the NCAA selection show to begin. While the brackets appeared on the screen, the Bills sat glued to the television.

When the first bracket was revealed, the Billikens saw a slew of familiar faces. Stanford, Southern Methodist, Creighton, UAB and Southwest Missouri State all were placed into the same bracket with top seeded Duke but still no SLU.

After the second bracket was revealed the Billikens had yet to appear. The Big East’s top-rated team, Connecticut, took the four seed while ACC power house Wake Forest was placed at the fifth seed.

Finally, after fifteen minutes of anxious waiting, the Billikens were placed at the No. 3 seed.

Their first-round opponent will be the University of Illinois Chicago, with the game taking place on Sunday at noon at Hermann Stadium.

UCLA, San Diego, Brown, Rhode Island, Princeton and Virginia round out the rest of the bracket. Virginia was placed at the No. 6 seed due to their strong performance in the ACC tournament final game. The Cavaliers took top-ranked Duke to overtime before falling.

Indiana was given the second seed and Maryland seventh. Saint John’s, Penn State, William and Mary, Washington, Portland and Kentucky were the last of the 32 teams to be announced.

All of the aforementioned teams are in SLU’s half of the bracket.

Duke takes on Maryland-Baltimore County in a battle of undefeateds. Santa Clara, Virginia Commonwealth, Furman, North Carolina, Yale, Rutgers and Hartford round out the top part of the draw in Duke and Connecticut’s half.

Now that the Billikens know their opponent, they will spend the rest of the week resting and preparing to make a run at the 1999 NCAA Men’s College Cup.

“We can’t overlook Illinois Chicago,” said senior Jason Mims.

“They’ll be well prepared. They wouldn’t be in the tournament if they weren’t good,” said junior Mark Robinson.

The Billikens are as deserving as any team in the 32-team field. With the highest RPI rating in the country, the Billikens are well prepared to face off against tough competition.

“We’re one of the best teams in the country,” said sophomore goal keeper John Politis. “I think our strength of schedule helped. It’ll help us in the long run.”

The long run through the tournament will be a tough one. The Billikens are confident that they can succeed in their push for the national title.

“As long as we play like we can, we can beat anyo

SLU was disappointed with the Conference USA tournament final, but the Bills are happy to be seeded third in the tournament.

“I think we’d have been the number one seed if we hadn’t lost this weekend, but I’m happy with the three seed,” said Robinson.

“We’d have been the No. 1 seed,” said freshman Nick Walls. “The committee looks at the RPI, but I’m happy with the three seed.”

The way the brackets filled out, the Billikens could not be happier to be the three seed, instead of the one. All the teams that had given the Billikens trouble during the regular season have been placed into Duke’s bracket. UAB, Creighton, Southwest Missouri State and SMU all reside in the first bracket.

Two of the Billikens three loses came at the hand of UAB. The other loss came by way of Creighton in monsoon-like conditions at the Billiken Sports Complex.

The Billikens tied Southwest Missouri and needed overtime to beat SMU.

“I like it,” Nagy said of the three seed. “The number one is scary since everyone is gunning for you. The number three is good.”

“It’s a tough break for them[Duke],” Mims said. “All three undefeated teams are in their bracket.”

The Bills are ready for the challenge of post-season play.

“It’s tournament time. We have to play every game like it’s the National Championship,” freshman Jason Cole said.

“We have to go out and play our best game, because it could be our last,” Robinson said.