O.J. Mayo called it: Southern California against Kansas State in a first-round game of the Midwest Regional at Omaha.
Mayo made the prediction during a telephone conversation with Kansas State's Bill Walker moments before the first-round matchup in the NCAA tournament was announced.
"I told him, 'I think we're going to draw you guys,"' Mayo said Sunday at Galen Center, where the Trojans watched as the pairings were announced. "Omaha seemed like a good place to play. At the same time, it's all about the money."
Mayo was referring to the fact that he and Kansas State's Michael Beasley are two of the most talented freshmen in the country, making for an attractive matchup.
Beasley is the third-leading scorer in the country, averaging 26.5 points. Mayo isn't far behind at 20.8 points. Both figure to be early first-round picks whenever they decide to declare for the NBA draft.
"It's still Kansas State vs. USC two good teams, two teams that play hard," Mayo said. "We'll get a crowd there, it should be exciting."
The 20-year-old Mayo said he has known Walker since the age of 3, calling him "my best friend in the world."
SANS SMITH: For the first time in 15 seasons, the NCAA tournament will be held without Tubby Smith. Minnesota did not receive a bid despite winning 20 games in Smith's first season in Minneapolis. The Gophers (20-13) more than doubled their win total from a year ago when they went 9-22 during one of the most miserable seasons at Williams Arena in recent memory. But a lack of "quality wins" and falling short during a spirited run in the Big Ten tournament left them on the outside looking in Minnesota will host Maryland in the NIT on Tuesday.
PHILLY FLAVOR: Villanova was a surprise pick for the NCAA tournament Sunday and joined Temple and Saint Joseph's in the 65-team field, putting three Philadelphia teams in the tournament for the first time since 1999.
WEST COAST POWER: Saint Mary's joins WCC tournament winner San Diego and regular-season champion Gonzaga in the tournament, the first time the conference has placed three teams in the NCAAs. The little-heralded WCC got in a higher percentage of teams than traditional power conferences such as the Big Ten and the ACC.