PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Tennessee's Bruce Pearl and San Diego State's Steve Fisher go way back to the days when they were both assistant coaches in the Big Ten.

The two will meet in the first round of this year's NCAA tournament in Providence.

Pearl was a disciple of Dr. Tom Davis at Iowa in the 1980s, and Fisher was working at Michigan when Bill Frieder took a job at Arizona State right before the NCAA tournament. Fisher took over the Wolverines as an interim coach and led them to the 1989 title.

Pearl said he would always root for former assistant coaches to do well as head coaches.

Fisher agrees, but the loyalty only goes so far. Both teams are trying to advance to the second round on Thursday.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.