INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The final game for Mike Davis as the Indiana basketball coach will come in the NCAA tournament.

After missing the tourney the past two years, Indiana went 18-11 this season and received an at-large bid from the NCAA selection committee on Sunday. The Hoosiers were seeded sixth in the Oakland Regional and will open play at Salt Lake City on Thursday against 11th-seeded San Diego State.

If they win that game, they would play either third-seeded Gonzaga or 14th-seeded Xavier on Saturday.

“In a tournament like this, it’s not about the seed, just getting in,” Davis said. “You want to draw an opponent that suits you. So it’s exciting for our players and exciting for me.

“We just want to go out and compete and hope that we can win a couple of games.”

Davis, under increasing pressure during a midseason slump, resigned Feb. 16 but said he would stay with the team through the end of the season. The Hoosiers lost their next game after that, their fifth loss in a row, but finished strong by winning their last four regular-season games and a quarterfinal game against Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament on Friday.

Indiana then lost to Ohio State in the semifinals of the Big Ten tourney on Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse, although they already were considered likely prospects for an NCAA berth.

“We’re definitely a dangerous team, but so are the other teams involved in this tournament, because its one and done,” Davis said. “It’s your mind-set going into the game. You need to play free, not play tight.”

The NCAA Final Four will be in Indianapolis on April 1 and 3.

Davis, a former Indiana assistant, became coach after Bob Knight was fired in 2000. He took the Hoosiers to the NCAA tourney each of his first four years and reached the Final Four in 2002, losing to Maryland in the championship game. Indiana lost in the second round in 2003, then failed to make the tournament the next two years.

The Hoosiers went to the National Invitation Tournament last year but lost their opening game to Vanderbilt.

Davis said he was confident — but not certain — that Indiana would make it to the NCAA tournament this year.

“You never know. Everybody says you’re in the toughest conference in the country,” he said of playing in the Big Ten. “And I figured that we would be in, but not knowing what seed we would be.”

Indiana was the state’s only team among the 65 selected to the NCAA tournament this year.

The Hoosiers were 15-13 and Notre Dame was 17-13 last year, but both had hoped their tough schedules would carry them into the tourney. Instead, when they were snubbed by the committee, the state of Indiana was left without a single team in the tournament for the first time since 1972.

Since the tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Indiana has averaged more than three teams each year, topped by six teams — Ball State, Butler, Indiana, Indiana State, Purdue and Valparaiso — in 2000.

Notre Dame slumped to 15-13 this season, and Purdue went 9-19 under first-year coach Matt Painter, the worst record among all 10 Indiana Division I teams. IUPUI, Butler and Valparaiso, the state’s only mid-majors with winning records, did not receive NCAA bids either.

“We’re really excited right now,” Indiana guard Marshall Strickland said. “We think we got a good draw, a good seed, and its right there for us.”

Strickland was a freshman the last time Indiana played in the NCAA tournament.

“One thing I’ve told the freshmen is that my freshman year, I thought it would happen every year,” he said. “I thought it was just a given, but it hasn’t been. Now I’ve got my second chance and I’m going to let them know they may not get another opportunity like this.”



Click here for the 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball brackets

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