DAYTON, Ohio -- On paper, the best first-round game in the Mideast Regional is tonight's 10 o'clock finale between eighth-seeded Georgia Tech and ninth-seeded DePaul. The way the Yellow Jackets finished the regular season, Kenny Anderson's next college game could be his last.
Anderson, the sophomore guard who already has 1,441 career points, hasn't decided if he is going to the NBA next year, a subject of speculation all winter. He's averaging 25.7 points, but has struggled down the stretch. Not coincidentally, so has Georgia Tech (16-12), dropping six of its last nine games.
"Lately, I haven't been playing well and it's frustrating," Anderson said. "I let the NBA thing get the best of me. There were a lot of distractions. I've been losing some of my hair, and me teammates call me 'Spotty.' It's definitely a new life getting into the tournament."
DePaul (20-8) knows about losing streaks. The Blue Demons dropped five straight in December, to Louisville, UCLA, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Oklahoma State and North Carolina. The only loss in DePaul's last 13 games came at Notre Dame, a team it defeated twice last year, when the Blue Demons didn't make the 64-team field and the Irish did.
David Booth, a 6-foot-7 junior, is averaging 19.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. He didn't do Joey Meyer any favors yesterday, although the coach's father had to like Booth's comments.
"The DePaul name has slipped since the days when Ray Meyer coached," Booth said, "but we're getting the respect back."
* TIGER TALES: Towson State knew the scare it threw into Oklahoma last year wouldn't count for much in this year's seeding process. Since the NCAA expanded the field to 64 teams in 1985, this is the fifth time in the seven years the East Coast Conference champion has been seeded 16th in its region. It was No. 15 the other two years.
Next week the Tigers will be entertaining officials from the North Atlantic Conference, which it wants to enter. Northeastern, its champ, is also a No. 16 seed, playing North Carolina in the East tonight.
"We usually play the No. 1 team in the country, so I thought Ohio State was No. 1," Towson State coach Terry Truax said, jokingly.
Towson State also was assigned the motel nearest the airport, no doubt to make a quick getaway easier tomorrow morning.
* NOT-SO NEUTRAL: The Tigers' most notable upset bids came on neutral courts. They gave Oklahoma fits in Austin, Texas, last year and similarly confounded Syracuse in Hershey, Pa., last December. The University of Dayton Arena is supposed to be a neutral court, but Truax knows that isn't the case.
The Ohio State players attended classes yesterday morning before the team left Columbus at 11:30 a.m. for the 70-mile drive here. Eleven of the Buckeyes' 14 players are from Ohio, and junior point guard Mark Baker played his high school ball at Dayton's Dunbar High.
Baker and Ohio State center Perry Carter were third-team choices on the All-Big Ten team.
* LOYOLA COMPARISON: Today's 3 p.m. contestants, Southwest Conference runner-up Texas and Metro Atlantic champion St. Peter's have something in common: Loyola. The Greyhounds were swamped 112-68 in Austin and lost a pair of three-point decisions to the Peacocks.
Despite losing two NBA first-round choices in Travis Mays and Lance Blanks, Texas (22-8) is still prospering on the perimeter, thanks to two senior guards who were prep rivals in Hammond, Ind., then began their college careers elsewhere.
Joey Wright is averaging 21.2 points, and the Longhorns are 11-1 when Teyon McCoy scores in double figures. Wright began at Drake, and McCoy is a transfer from Maryland.