RALEIGH, N.C. — It's a free-for-all at Davidson College.
Thanks to the deep pockets of the school's Board of Trustees, nearly 300 students will travel to Detroit to watch the basketball team continue its surprising run in the NCAA Tournament tonight.
Students are getting bus transportation, two nights lodging and a ticket to see Davidson play Wisconsin in the Midwest Region, all for free.
Trustees pledged Wednesday to pay for any student. Within a day, 275 students — nearly 20 percent of the student body — had signed up. That sent officials at the liberal-arts college, about 20 miles north of Charlotte, scrambling.
"The response was tremendous and frankly, surprisingly large," spokeswoman Stacey Schmeidel said. "We actually have a lot more students who want to go, but we're trying to find more buses."
The seven buses pull away from the private school with 1,700 students at 5 a.m. for the 11-hour, roughly 650-mile trip.
Coach Bob McKillop said: "I'm stunned by it, thrilled by it."
Floor on the 50: The NCAA Tournament is experimenting with a new configuration during the regional in Detroit and Houston, putting the court on the 50-yard line of football stadiums instead of tucked on one end.
The hardwood will be 27 inches off the ground and some players acknowledged some trepidation. "What if we go for the loose ball and dive off the court?" Villanova's Scottie Reynolds asked.
The raised court creates a unique perspective for coaches, who have the option of sitting on stools a few feet above the players.
"It really opens up the whole stadium and makes it so much better for the fans," said Laing Kennedy, Kent State athletic director and a member of the NCAA's basketball committee.
Memphis: Don't characterize the Memphis offense as little more than street ball, or a rag-tag scheme of players running up and down the court. There's a method behind it.
"It's the Princeton offense on steroids," coach John Calipari said. "We are running back cuts, we are running chin cuts, we are doing all the same stuff, but we are doing it faster."
Calipari calls it the "dribble drive motion" offense. Four players work the perimeter, while one player remains under the basket. The four perimeter players create shots either for themselves or a teammate, and must use their quickness to "dribble drive" to the interior.
"I can't say that we've played a lot of teams like this," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whose Spartans will face Memphis on tonight in a South Region semifinal. "But in some ways, playing on the road at Bradley, where they had four perimeter guys that drive and shoot it — not exactly like this — but it gave us some feel for it."
Villanova: Super-sub point guard Corey Fisher is from the Bronx and says the 12th-seeded Wildcats shouldn't be intimidated by No. 1 Kansas tonight in the Midwest Region semifinal. He concedes nothing in the matchup with the Kansas backcourt of Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush. "I feel we match up really well with them," Fisher said. "That is what it is going to come down to, whichever team is able to defend, rebound and execute."
|Sweet 16||Elite Eight||Final Four||Championship|
|Thursday-today||Sat.-Sunday||April 5||April 7|
|east||Charlotte, N.C.||1||UNC 68|
|4||Wash. St. 47|
|Final Four in
|Today, 7:10||TV games
on Ch. 10
|Final Four||Elite Eight||Sweet 16|
|12||W. Kentucky 78|
|7||W. Virginia 75|