The Hurricanes were among the No. 2 seeds with conference rival Duke, Georgetown from the Big East, and Big Ten tournament champion Ohio State.
"If we had five spots, Miami would be there with us," Bobinski said. "In the final analysis, we put Gonzaga just ahead of them. But it was very, very close."
Duke, which had been atop the RPI rankings, cost itself a shot at a No. 1 seed with an upset loss to Maryland in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. Georgetown lost in the Big East semifinals and settled for a No. 2 as well, but Indiana was in no danger of dropping off the top line, despite its loss to the Badgers. Bobinski said the Hoosiers' overall body of work was good enough to ensure they didn't fall below one of the top four spots, no matter what happened Sunday.
The tournament begins Tuesday with a pair of games in Dayton, Ohio. Everyone is trying to get to Atlanta for the Final Four, which starts April 6 at the Georgia Dome.
If Louisville advances to the round of 16, there's a chance Pitino would get to match up with Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, a regional MVP on Pitino's Kentucky team that made it to the Final Four two decades ago.
"I hope we get the opportunity. That would be nice," Ford said. "I agree with the NCAA committee that they're the No. 1 overall seed, after watching them play (Saturday) night and what they've done lately in the Big East."
On Thursday, Gonzaga takes on Southern in the second round of the West Regional at Salt Lake City. The Zags will be relishing their first No. 1 seed, though they are hardly a tournament neophyte; this is their 15th straight NCAA appearance, a mid-major program that has shown it can hang with the big boys.
This season, they come into the tournament on a 14-game winning streak.
"In our judgment that's a very complete and very strong basketball team," Bobinski said.
On Friday, Kansas stays close to home in Kansas City, Mo., facing Western Kentucky in a South Region second-round game, while Indiana opens in Dayton, Ohio, against either LIU Brooklyn or James Madison, another of the "First Four" contests.
One thing is for sure in this most uncertain season: There won't be a repeat champion.
A year after taking its eighth national title — only UCLA has won more — Kentucky's success in restocking each year with the best one-and-done prospects hit a roadblock. The Wildcats never meshed as a unit, then lost the best of the freshmen when Nerlens Noel went down with a season-ending knee injury. An upset over Florida boosted their stock heading to the SEC tournament. But the Wildcats turned in a miserable performance in Nashville, Tenn., losing to Vanderbilt 64-48 in the quarterfinals.
"That was a tough way to finish if you're going to impress upon us that you're one of the best teams in the nation," Bobinski said.
While the Big East had the most teams, followed by the Big Ten with seven, the less-glamorous leagues also did well. Middle Tennessee, for instance, was the last of the at-large teams to make the field, along with LaSalle, Boise State and Saint Mary's, beating out more recognized programs such as Tennessee, Iowa, Alabama and Virginia. Not to mention Kentucky.
In all, 11 of the 37 at-large bids went to teams outside the so-called power conferences.
Middle Tennessee lost in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament after winning the regular season title, which in previous years might have been enough to knock them out of the NCAAs. Not this time. The Blue Raiders (28-5) are headed to the tournament, helped along by another upset when Mississippi knocked off Florida in the SEC championship game Sunday. Middle Tennessee had beaten the Rebels.
"They had no rough patches along the way, and their win over Ole Miss looks better at this point in time," said Bobinski, who frequently cited road wins as a leading factor in who got bids.
After a season of upsets, Oklahoma State's Ford doesn't expect anything to change in the NCAAs.
"More than any year I can remember, I don't think seeding really matters," he said. "Probably if you're a (No.) 1 seed, your first game, you've got a pretty good chance of getting by that. Then even after that, I think it's throw it up in the air. I looked at some of those games. Even a lot of the No. 1 seeds have some tough second-round games."
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
AP Sports Writers Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City, Gary Graves in Lexington, Ky.; Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Mo.; and Aaron Beard in Greensboro, N.C., contributed to this report.
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