Soccer America correctly predicted 32 of the 34 at-large teams, including Samford, the runner-up in the unheralded Ohio Valley Conference.
PAC-10 SNUB. Soccer America's two bubble teams, Colorado and UNC Greensboro, got the nod over Pac-10 teams Arizona State and Washington State, which it had predicted would get at-large berths.
It marked the second year in a row Pac-10 contenders were left on the outside. Last year, Pac-10 team, Oregon, put on a late charge, beating UCLA on the last weekend of the regular season, and finished at 12-6-2 but didn't get in.
There was no doubt about the strength of the Pac-10, though. Two teams, UCLA and Stanford, earned No. 1 seeds, and USC was given a No. 2 seed.
The other No. 1 seeds were defending champion North Carolina, one of eight teams from the ACC to get bids, and Penn State, the Big Ten regular-season champion.
The biggest surprise was that Big 12 champion Texas wasn't seeded. It set up the possibility of the Longhorns having to travel to Texas A&M (which it beat in the Big 12 final) next Saturday in the second round.
PILOTS HIT THE ROAD. No. 2 seed Portland leads the nation with an average home attendance of 3,652, but the Pilots were shipped off to Boulder, Colo., for weekend action, beginning with a date against Sun Belt champion Denver on Friday.
For Portland fans, the disappointment of seeing the Pilots at Merlo Field for the first two games is tempered by the knowledge that the Pilots have a history of success when being shipped off for preliminary-round games.
In 2002, the Pilots were sent to Provo, Utah for opening round games as the No. 8 seed and went on to become the lowest seed to ever win the championship. In 2005, Portland was a No. 1 seed and the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, but was still sent to Lincoln, Neb. for its opening round matches before going on to win its second title.
The only other seeds to not play at home this weekend are No. 2 USC (playing at Missouri) and No. 4 Wake Forest (at Boston College).
NEWBIES. Eight teams are making their first appearance in the tournament and include: Alabama A&M; Georgetown; Hawaii; Kennesaw State; LSU; Memphis; Monmouth and Sacramento State.
After the ACC with eight teams, the SEC received six berths, and the Big East, Big Ten and Big 12 obtained five apiece.