The Wildcats have been awarded great travel considerations by the selection committee. Arizona plays its first two games in Albuquerque, then moves on to San Jose if it can win its first two.
On the other hand, Gonzaga coach Mark Few has to be somewhat disappointed with a No.6 seed. The Zags dominated the West Coast Conferece, but played a weak out-of-conference schedule and that might be the difference between a four or five seed and a six.
"It makes you realize (the selection committee) really does pay attention to strength of schedule," Arizona assistant coach Jay John said.
Gonzaga might be unhappy with its seeding, but it's probaby even more upset about drawing the Wyoming Cowboys in round one.
"Playing an elevation team (from thel Mountain West) in an elevation arena (The Pit) is going to be difficult for Gonzaga," Arizona assistant coach Jay John said.
Arizona and Gonzaga will meet in round two if they can win their first round games.
UCLA plays Old Miss in round one and could face cincinnati in the second game. the Bruins have already knocked off then-No. 1 Kansas. Can the up-and-down Bruins do it again?
The following are capsules of all West Region teams.
Record: 30-3 (14-2, C-USA)
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Key Players: Steve Logan, G (6-0, Sr.); Leonard Stokes, G (6-6, Jr.)
Outlook: The Bearcats are at it again. Bob Huggins' team dominated
Conference USA on its way to a high seed. Logan and Stokes are one of the
nation's top backcourts and are largely responsible for the team's success.
The Bearcats have not really played anyone, so despite the high ranking they
are a bit of a mystery.
Projection: The Bearcats will go as far as Logan can take them, and that
could be a long way. The team thinks it is a Final Four contender. That may
be a stretch, but anything less than a Sweet 16 appearance will be a major
Record: 22-9 (13-3, America East)
Location: Boston, MA
Key Players: Billy Collins, G (6-7, Sr.); Chaz Carr, G (6-0, Fr.)
Outlook: The Terriers got into the Dance thanks to a nice run in the
American East Tournament. Boston U. has played the likes of Iowa, Boston
College and UC Irvine, but could not beat any of them. They managed to win
22 games, despite the early-season loss of high scoring Matt Turrner.
Projection: This looks like a one and done type squad. Any wins will be
considered huge upsets.
Record: 19-11 (11-7, Pac-10)
Location: Westwood, CA
Head Coach: Steve Lavin
Key Players: Dan Gadzuric, C (6-11, Sr.); Jason Kapono, F (6-7 Jr.) Matt
Barnes, F (6-7 Sr.)
Overview: Trying to guess how the Bruins will play on any given night is a
crapshoot at best. On one hand, you have UCLA beating the best team in the
nation, Kansas, by ten points. But then there are days where UCLA gets
embarrassed by flat out bad teams (at Villanova). Being a Bruin fan must be
maddening from the inconsistency alone.Kapono is probably the West Coast's
best pure shooter and when Gadzuric plays well he is a beast in the post.
Projection: It all depends which UCLA club shows up. If the team that beat
Kansas comne to play then watch-out, the Bruins coud be playing past the
second weekend. However, the team is just as likely to flame out early.
Troubles at point guard could be the differnce. A Sweet-16 appearance is not
out of the question, but Lavin's club could be primed for a disapointing
Ole Miss Rebels
Record: 20-10 (9-7, SEC)
Key Players: SF-Justin Reed, So., PG-Jason Harrison, Sr., SG-Aaron Harper,
Overview: A year after losing All-SEC player Rahim Lockhart the Rebels are
still a formidable team thanks to sophomore sensation Justin Reed. Reed is a
small forward with size (6-8) and skill, but he doesn't have the kind of
frontcourt help that Lockhart provided in 2001. The Rebel backcourt is solid
with pint-sized point guard Jason Harrison (5-5 on a good day) and reliable
shooting guard Aaron Harper, who's over 40 percent on the year from beyond
the arc. Ole Miss is still physical enough even without stars in the
frontcourt, but a 9-7 regular-season conference finish says that maybe the
Rebels struggle more than they should with aggressive teams.
Projection: One and done, especially against a bigger team.
Record: 24-7 (10-6, Big East)
Location: Coral Gables, Florida
Key Players: Darius Rice, F (6-10, So.); John Salmons, G (6-7, Sr.); James
Jones, F (6-8, Jr.)
Outlook: With four starters back from last year's NIT squad, Miami was
expected to be a tourney contender. No one expected them to be a 20-plus
win, top-25 team. Miami is a tough team to get a handle on. They keep
winning, but don't always look real good doing it. Rice and Jones are the
team's leading rebounders, but can also shoot from the outside. The two
forwards make matchups difficult. Salmons is a very tall guard who also
gives opposing coaches fits.
Projection: It's all about matchups with the Hurricanes. Miami can give
teams fits, but they also have their limitations. The Hurricanes have the
talent to make the second round and the Sweet 16 isn't out of the question,
but neither is a first-round loss.
Record: 21-11 (9-7, Big 12)
Key Players: SF-Kareem Rush, Jr., SG-Clarence Gilbert, Sr., C-Arthur
Outlook: Key early-season wins over Iowa and Memphis aren't as shiny now
that the Hawkeyes and Tigers have proven to be huge disappointments. The
play of preseason All-American Kareem Rush has been a large part of why
Missouri has struggled all year. Rush's shot hasn't been on target and he
isn't making as much happen off the dribble as he did a year ago either.
Projection: The Tigers are pretty much lucky to be in the Tournament after
a mid-year collapse put them on the bubble for most of the latter part of
the season. There's little doubt that the Tigers have the talent and ability
to make some noise in the Dance, but there is even less evidence to make one
believe that Mizzou won't be home by Monday.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Record: 23-7 (11-5, Big Ten)
Key Players: Brian Brown, G (6-4, Sr.); Brent Darby, G (6-1, Jr.); Slobodan
Savovic, G (6-5, Sr.).
Outlook: Many consider the job Jim O'Brien did during the regular season to
be a small miracle after having lost superstar guards Michael Redd and
Scoonie Penn, along with OSU's all-time leading shot blocker Ken Johnson in
the last two years. Guards Brown and Darby are extremely quick, and can find
their own shots with ease, while Savovic is lethal from beyond the arc.
Providence transfer Sean Connolly can light up the scoreboard as well.
Projection: The Buckeyes glaring weakness is in the low post where 6-9
freshman Terence Dials, and 6-8 soph Zach Williams will have to contend with
superior experience in the tourney. The guards have to crash the boards.
Fortunately for O'Brien and company, the guards are very talented and the
big men youthful, but solid.
Record: 21-9 (11-5 Southern)
Location: Davidson, NC
Key Players: Emeka Erege, F (6-5, Sr.); Chris Pearson, F (6-9, Jr.)
Outlook: What can you say about Davidson other than two former Salpointe
Lancers have played on the team over the past couple of years? The Tucson
connection is there still with reserve guard Fern Tonella. The real strength
of the team lies in the frontcourt with Emeka Erege and Chris Pearson. The
two combine to average over 25 points and 15 rebounds per game.
Projection: The Southern Conference's most dominant program, Davidson is
always pretty competitive in the tournament and should put up the same kind
of fight in 2002 regardless of its opponent.
Record: 29-3 (13-1, WCC)
Location: Spokane, WA
Key Players: Dan Dickau, G (6-0, Sr.); Zach Gourde, F (6-8, Jr.); Cory
Violette F, (6-8, So.).
Outlook: The Zags are definitely not a Cinderella team this year. After
finishing the year with 14 straight wins and setting a new school record by
winning 29 games, the Bulldogs are being hailed as a legitimate Final Four
threat. Led by All-American point guard Dan Dickau, Gonzaga is an up-tempo,
high-scoring and very exciting team. The Bulldogs also feature sophomore
shooting guard Blake Stepp, a three-point specialist, and Violette, who just
might be the West Coast's best big man by next year. Throw in role players
Gourde, Ronnie Turiaf, Alex Hernandez and Anthony Reason and what you have
is a team capable of advancing far into the tournament.
Projection: Potentially another Sweet 16 for coach Mark Few's team. No
reason to stop there, however. This team just might earn the school's first
Final Four berth.
Record: 21-8 (11-3)
Location: Laramie, WY
Key Players: Marcus Bailey, G/F (6-5, Jr.); Josh Davis, F (6-8, Sr.); Donta
Richardson, G (6-2, Jr.)
Outlook: The Cowboys are an experienced team with only one freshman on the
roster. They surprised some and won the Mountain West Conference's regular
season title. The Cowboys struggled from the outside a year ago and despite
the addition of some JC shooters, they still shoot less than 30 percent from
behind the arc. Bailey and Richardson lead the way averaging more than 13
points apiece. Davis is a strong presence on the inside.
Projection: The Cowboys don't strike fear in anybody, but they are a good
team. With solid, experienced players, they could be a tough unit to shake.
A win is not out of the question, but playing on the second weekend would be
Record: 22-9 (12-6, Pac-10)
Location: Tucson, AZ
Key Players: Jason Gardner, G (5-10 Jr.); Luke Walton, F (6-8 Jr.); Rick
Anderson, (6-9 Jr.)
Overview: The Wildcats started off the year with impressive wins over three
top five teams in Maryland, Florida and Illinois, but have since fallen off
thanks in part to a rigorous schedule and a roster overloaded with freshmen.
Head coach Lute Olson has still managed to surpass many of the preseason
expectations the national media placed on his Wildcats. For Arizona to be
successful, it needs solid efforts out of all three of its junior leaders
(Gardner, Walton and Anderson). Generally speaking, if one or more of the
juniors is off, the Wildcats simply aren't the same team.
Projection: This team has some similarities to the '97 club. That doesn't
mean you can start packing for Atlanta, but they could be interesting. If
the team can hit their shots and remain close on the boards then watch out.
However if the freshmen feel the pressure, this could look a lot more like
'99 than '97.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
Record: 20-10 (11-7 Big West)
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Key Players: Mark Hull, F (6-7, Jr.); Branduinn Fullove, G (6-4, So.)
Outlook: Jim Rome's alma mater is returning to the NCAA Tournament for the
first time since 1990. The Gauchos got hot late, beating the top two seeds
in the Big West Tournament, including a big win over well-regarded Utah
State. UCSB beat Pepperdine and hung tough with USC early in the year.
Projection: The Gauchos are riding high after beating Cal-Irvine and Utah
State on successive nights. They have played some good teams tough, but
don't expect a whole lot out of them. They are good and athletic, so they
have a chance of giving a good team fits, just don't expect them to pull off
Record: 25-5 (14-2 Atlantic 10)
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Key Players: David West, F (6-8, Jr.); Romain Sato, G/F (6-4, 195); Lionel
Chalmers, G (6-0, Jr.)
Outlook: The Musketeers breezed through a weakened Atlantic 10, due in large
part to All-Amercian David West. The 6-8 power forward is a bear in the
middle. Sato and Chalmers give Xavier two more talented players who can make
a huge difference. Xavier has faced some stiff competition, beating tourney
teams in Wisconsin, Siena and Kent State.
Projection: Xavier is a solid ball club and will go several rounds if West
is playing well. Last year he struggled a bit and they were bounced in the
first round. They have an outside shot at the Sweet 16 this year.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Record: 27-5 (15-3, WAC)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Key players: Predrog Savovic, G (6-6, Sr.); Carl English, G (6-5, So.); Mike
McIntyre, G (6-3, Sr.).
Outlook: A loaded backcourt has given the Rainbows, or Rainbow Warriors,
take your pick, one of the most explosive teams you've never heard of.
Hawaii was 13 points from being undefeated in the regular season, and never
lost a game by more than four.
Projection: If a team wins with guards, Hawaii could be dangerous. Savovic
leads the team in scoring, despite missing the first six games of the
regular season. English shoots 41 percent from three-point range. The
Rainbow Warriors love to run, but could struggle if the opposition brings
Record: 27-4 (13-3, Big 12)
Key Players: PG-Hollis Price, Jr., SG-Ebi Ere, Jr., PF-Aaron McGhee, Sr.
Outlook: As good as the Sooners have been this year, next year they could be
even better. Already this season Oklahoma has defeated Maryland and beat
Connecticut in Storrs. That's impressive. Two juniors have been the stars in
Norman, and in Hollis Price and Ebi Ere, the Sooners have a backcourt bested
only by Kansas in the Big 12. Ere is a force. At 6-5, the junior college
transfer hits the boards hard, averaging nearly six rebounds per game. Price
is the star. Price maximizes his size and is a scoring machine with a good
Projection: Oklahoma is the kind of team that really doesn't play down to
the level of its competition. That's a good quality to have in the first few
rounds, but do the Sooners have what it takes to make a run to the Final
Four for the first time since 1988? If Ere's shot is falling, the answer
might be yes.
Record: 20-13 (8-8 Horizon)
Location: Chicago, IL
Key Players: Cedrick Banks, F (6-2 So.); Jordan Kardos, G (6-2 Sr.); Jon
Schneiderman, G (6-1 Jr.)
Overview: The Flames defeated Loyola of Chicago on a Cedrick Banks
turnaround jumper in the lane with four seconds to play to win the Horizon
championship. Considering that conference rival Butler came into the
tournament as the prohibitive favorite at 25-4 but lost in the first round,
says a lot about what the Flames accomplished by winning the league crown.
UIC is a very small team, size-wise, with an average height of 6'5" in the
starting lineup. Banks, the Flames' best player, is a 6-2 small forward who
led the team in rebounding at 4.6 per game.
Projection: The Flames lack of size will cause a quick exit for this team.
However, the Flames shoot 41.2% from downtown as a team, so if they get hot,
they could be trouble.