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WITH 7-8 MATCHUP, SEEDINGS UNDER MORE SCRUTINY

Monday night's NCAA championship game was the first between a No. 7 seed and a No. 8 seed, but some experts said the changing college basketball landscape has rendered tournament seeding much less important.

"I think it's irrelevant now because I think it's hard to evaluate realistically how good a team is," said John Thompson, former longtime Georgetown coach and now an analyst with Westwood One Sports Radio. "You can't just statistically look at a group of people and say that this is the best team any more. You have to have some knowledge of the development, particularly the young teams.

"Young teams develop as Kentucky did. Young teams develop as they go along. Now they might have lost several games or run into difficulty early. Those babies came out of the oven, now they are ready. You see them based on an entire season where those older kids got more experience."

ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale said he believes the NCAA Selection Committee got one half of Monday night's seeding correct.

"Seeding has been really tough," he said. "There's no way Kentucky should have been an 8 seed. I said it before, you look at them with the eye test, they should have been a 4 seed at least.

"Connecticut played like a 7 seed for the year. They got beat by 33 on March 8 by Louisville. They lost to SMU (twice) and Houston. So I have no problem with them being a 7."

TO STAY OR GO?: One of the biggest issues surrounding Florida's team is the status of freshman F/C Chris Walker.

Walker missed the first three months of the season because of NCAA rules violations that occurred before his arrival in Gainesville. He played his first game on Feb. 4 vs. Missouri, and ultimately played just 87 minutes all season. Yet, he's projected by some as a first-round NBA pick.

Vitale, who covered numerous Gators games this season and saw Walker in person, said it would be a mistake for him to leave.

"He'll be sitting on the bench," Vitale said. "And I'll tell you what he ought to take a look at: You can play yourself out of the league after three years and be a nobody (like) the kid that went to Kentucky - Daniel Orton. Someone will take him in the first round and he'll sit the bench and that's sad. He's not ready."

Orton did little after he was the Magic's first-round pick in 2010.

HOMECOMING: The opportunity to play a national championship game at AT&T Stadium was a dream come true for Kentucky F Julius Randle and his teammates Andrew and Aaron Harrison.

Randle grew up in Dallas. The Harrison twins are natives of Richmond, Texas, about four hours outside of Arlington.

"It's just amazing to be here," Randle said. "All we have been through, and the way we came together, you just can't really put it into words. So to be here and playing on the final day means a lot."

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

Up next:HAIL HUSKIES

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