Pac-10 teams, USC (No. 4) and Cal (No. 6 ), were not shown much respect by the tournament selection committee. Both were sent packing. USC will face UNC-Wilmington at Greensboro, NC in a first round match up. Cal will face Penn in what should be a homecourt advantage for the Quakers at Pittsburgh.
The following are capsules of South Region teams.
Duke Blue Devils
Record: 29-3 (13-3, ACC)
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Key players: Jason Williams, G (6-2, Jr.); Carlos Boozer, C (6-9, Jr.); Mike
Dunleavy, F (6-9, Jr.).
Outlook: The team to beat in the NCAA tournament. Duke was the No. 1 rated
team in the country most of the season, and appears poised to repeat, or at
least make a serious run at a fourth national title under Mike Krzyzewski.
Projection: Because of their explosive three-point potential and pressure
defense, weathering Duke's ability to score in bunches will be the mettle of
opponents. Tall, physical teams could pose problems on the inside.
Record: 19-11 (10-4 Big South)
Location: Rock Hill, SC
Key Players: Greg Lewis, F (6-6, Sr.); Marcus Stewart, F (6-6, Sr.); Tyrone
Walker, F (6-6, So.)
Outlook: Wintrop returns to the Big Dance, hoping to build upon last year's
experience. The Eagles are led by a pair of experienced seniors as well as a
talented sophomore anchoring the front line. Lewis is the main man, leading
the team in scoring and rebounding.
Projection: Although the Eagles have the ingredients to be an upset team,
don't expect it. These Eagles won't be soaring very long.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Record: 21-10 (10-6 Big East)
Location: South Bend, IN
Key Players: Ryan Humphrey, F (6-8, Sr.); Chris Thomas, G (6-1, Fr.)
Outlook: The Irish have proved there is life after Troy Murphy. Humphrey has
excelled as the go-to guy, while Thomas has shown great maturity that belies
his true freshman status. Notre Dame has great balance and a number of
upperclassmen (three seniors and three juniors).
Projection: A win or two is not out of the question for the Irish. It's hard
to make a long run with a freshman point guard, but Thomas is no ordinary
freshman. A potential second-round matchup with Duke makes a Sweet 16 spot
Record: 18-11 (11-5, C-USA)
Location: Charlotte, NC
Key Players: Jobey Thomas, G (6-4, Sr.); Cam Stephens, F/C (6-8, Sr.); Demon
Brown, G (6-1, Jr.)
Outlook: The 49ers got off the bubble and into the tournament. The loss of
Rodney White to the NBA hasn't slowed Charlotte down much at all. While the
backcourt gets most of the attention, it's the overall balance of the team
that is key. Bobby Lutz has convinced his team to accept their roles and
they have succeeded. Thomas has been the big scorer for the club, but five
players score eight points or more. Stephens is a bit undersized, but is a
balanced player in the paint.
Projection: Charlotte may be good enough to steal a game, but don't expect
them to get two wins. Thomas is a very good player, but they just don't have
the talent to carry them very far.
Record: 19-10 (11-5, Big Ten)
Key Players: Jared Jeffries, F (6-9, So); Tom Coverdale, G (6-2, Jr.),
Jarrad Odle, F (6-8, So)
Outlook: The 10 losses on the Hoosiers' stat sheet are deceiving. Every one
of the L's was to an NCAA tourney-caliber opponent, including Kentucky,
Marquette, and Southern Illinois. Jared Jeffries is one of, if not the, most
versatile player in the country as he can slash, post-up, and nail down the
long-range bomb. He poses plenty of matchup problems.
Projection: The Hoosiers have shown a glimmer of greatness, but the
consistency of elite play has been lacking. Guards must score in bunches to
take pressure off of Jeffries. Low post is mediocre.
Record: 21-8 (10-4, MWC)
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Key Players: Britton Johnsen, F (6-9, Jr.); Nick Jacobsen, G/F (6-4, So.);
Chris Burgess, C (6-10, Sr.)
Outlook: Rick Majerus has put together another solid, fundamentally sound
ball club. The team has some experience. Johnsen played in a Final Four
before going on his Mormon Mission. Burgess, a high-profile transfer from
Duke, is finally playing up to his potential. The team doesn't have a
dominant standout, but three players finished the regular season with
identical 13.2 ppg scoring averages.
Profile: Nobody wants to play a Majerus team in the tournament. This team
doesn't have the talent of some of his past entrants, but they are not an
easy team to prepare for. A first round win is not impossible, but might be
a minor upset.
Record: 22-9 (12-6, Pac-10)
Location: Los Angelas, CA
Coach: Henry Bibby
Key Players: Sam Clancy, PF (6-7, Sr.); David Bluthenthal, F (6-7 Sr.);
Brandon Granville, PG (5-9, Sr.)
Overview: USC is home to the Pac-10's most dominant player, senior power
forward Sam Clancy (19 points, 10 boards per game). Bluthenthal is the same
size as Clancy but is far more perimeter-oriented. In fact, when he is
hitting his outside shot, he is one of the best small forwards in the
nation, not just in the Pac-10. Granville, is the key to USC's success. The
senior point guard makes the Trojans a top 10 team when he stays out of foul
trouble and lets his nearly three to one assist-to-turnover ratio get the
whole team involved.
Projection: The Trojans are a senior laden club that went to the Elite Eight
a year ago. They have the size and atleticism to make a serious run. They
are a little thin off the bench and need a younger player to step up, but if
the outside shot is falling USC could certainly do some serious damage.
Record: 22-9 (14-4, CAA)
Location: Wilmington, NC
Key Players: Brett Blizzard, G (6-4, Jr.); Craig Callahan, F (6-8, Jr.); Ed
Williams, F (6-6, Sr.)
Outlook: Head coach Jerry Wainwright is one of the most entertaining
personalities in college basketball. He is a former assistant coach at Wake
Forest and he has now led the Seahawks to three straight NCAA appearances.
His team is led by junior shooting guard Brett Blizzard, a gunner with an
all-around game as good as anyone in the nation. Blizzard scored 17.5 points
per game, grabbed 4.2 boards, dished out 3.2 assists and had 2.1 steals per
outing. A frontline of forwards Craig Callahan and Ed Williams helps take
the pressure of Blizzard, but make no mistake, this is Blizzard's team.
Projection: If Blizzard's shot is falling, expect Wilmington to put a scare
into its first round opponent, if not at least the Seahawks can take comfort
in going furhter than the more famous UNC school.
California Golden Bears
Record: 22-8 (12-6, Pac-10)
Location: Berkeley, CA
Key Players: Joe Shipp, G (6-5 Jr.); Amit Tamir, F (6-10 Fr.); Jamal
Sampson, F/C (6-11, Fr.)
Overview: The Golden Bears are the deepest team in the Pac-10, with seven
players averaging over 20 minutes per game. The Cal guards are not among the
elite in the conference with Legans, who is very small and an inconsistent
shooter, running the show. The Bears are strong in the frontcourt where four
players stand 6-10 or taller. While Cal has the depth, it lacks the standout
player and the star power that generally makes teams special.
Projection: The Bears are very hard to prepare for due to the lack of a star
player. The balanced nature of the club means that one player can struggle
and the team can still thrive. That being said, the Bears don't have enough
overall talent for a deep run.
Record: 24-6 (13-2, Ivy League)
Location: Philadelphia, PA.
Key Players: Koko Archibong, SF (6-7, Jr.), Ugonna Onyekwe, PF (6-8, Jr.),
Dave Klatsky, PG (5-11, Jr.)
Outlook: Penn played Yale in the first-ever Ivy League tie-breaker to decide
who would receive the conferences automatic bid to the Big Dance. Coach Fran
Dunphy has two stars in Archibong and Onyekwe, a pair of forwards with
athleticism and power. Point guard Klatsky is a playmaker who can dish out
assists and hit the boards well too.
Projection: The Quakers are set to take on California in a first-round game
that happens to be in nearby Pittsburgh. The homecourt advantage will be
obvious and helpful for Penn, but it's doubtful that the Ivy Leaguers can
keep up with Cal's talented wing duo of Joe Shipp and Brian Wethers.
Record: 27-5 (13-3, Big East)
Location: Pittsburgh, PA.
Key Players: Brandin Knight, G (6-0, Jr.); Donatas Zavackas, F (6-8, Jr.);
Julius Page, (6-3, So.)
Outlook: This is a Pitt team that came from nowhere. They built up a gaudy
record against a weak non-conference schedule and everyone waited for them
to stumble in the Big East. Only they didn't. At best people thought this
team was a year away, no on could have predicted their success this season.
Brandin Knight keeps the family point guard tradition alive (brother Brevin
is in the NBA) and has quietly become one of the best point guards in the
Projection: Have we seen the real Panthers? This team is one of the bigger
mysteries in college basketball. They have a talented backcourt and know how
to win, but outside of conference play they have not been tested. On paper
Pitt has the makings to go on a run, but don't be surprised if the Panthers
go home very early.
Central Connecticut Blue Devils
Record: 27-4 (19-1 Northeast Conference)
Location: New Britain, CONN
Key Players: Corsley Edwards, C (6-9, Sr.); Damian Battles, G (6-3, Jr.).
Outlook: The Devils have had a great season, only losing games to Oklahoma,
Providence, UMass and St. Francis (NY). They are riding a 20 game win
streak, but have not beaten a quality opponent all season. Edwards is a load
in the paint at 6-9, 270 pounds, and Battles is a talented guard who can
both score and dish.
Projection: On the surface they look like they should be one and done, but
as of late Central Connecticut has done nothing but win. The Blue Devils
could be one of those teams to pull of a shocker. Not likely, but the
potential is there.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Record: 23-8 (10-6, Big 12)
Location: Stillwater, OK
Key Players: PG-Maurice Baker, Sr., PF-Frederik Jonzen, Sr., SF-Ivan
Outlook: The only thing keeping Eddie Sutton's Cowboys from being talked
about as a Final Four threat is a season-long nagging injury to point guard
Mo Baker. Baker was one of the nation's best and most versatile lead guards
until he hurt his leg early in the season, and neither he nor the team has
been the same since.
Projection: Because the injury to Baker is one that is easy to re-aggravate,
it's tough to expect much out of the Cowboys. If he is near 100 percent,
that means he can help out on the glass, find the open man and knock down
the perimeter shot. All of which Oklahoma State struggles to do without him.
Kent State Golden Flashes
Record: 27-5 (17-1 Mid American)
Key Players: Trevor Huffman, G (6-1, Sr.); Antonio Gates, G (6-3, So.);
Andrew Mitchell, G (5-11, Sr.)
Outlook: Kent State dominated the solid MAC, utilizing a three-guard attack.
Three players score 15 points or more a game. Huffman is solid, leading the
team in scoring (16.1) and assists (4.4). The team is one of the hottest in
the nation, winning 22 of their last 23 games.
Projection: Kent State knows how to win in the tournament. Last year they
beat Indiana. The Golden Flashes have the ability to pull off a win or two,
especially if the guards get hot. Five seniors mean experience is not
problem for Kent.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Record: 26-7 (12-4, SEC)
Location: Tuscalosa, AL
Key Players: C-Erwin Dudley, Jr., SF-Rod Grizzard, Jr., PG-Maurice Williams,
Outlook: Alabama has surpassed any preseason expectations with its SEC
regular-season title, but that doesn't necessarily translate into the Tide
being as good as their ranking would indicate. In fact, other than junior
center Erwin Dudley and freshman point guard Mo Williams, most of the Tide
players have been disappointing. Luckily for coach Mike Gottfried, the
addition of Williams has helped keep 'Bama among the nation's elite most of
Projection: If junior wing Rod Grizzard plays to his potential and starts
making shots, the Tide is a Final Four candidate. Dudley, a first-team
All-SEC pick, is consistent and reliable and so is Williams for the most
part. If Grizzard can join those two and give Alabama a three-pronged
attack, this team can play with anybody.
Florida Atlantic Falcons
Record: 19-11 (13-7 Atlantic Sun)
Location: Boca Raton, FL.
Key Players: Raheim Brown, F (6-10, Jr.); Jeff Cowans, G (6-2, So.)
Outlook: The Falcons upset Lefty Driesell's Georgia State team in the
championship game of the A-Sun tournament, winning 76-75 on a last-second
shot. FAU's key player is junior power forward Raheim Brown. At 6-10, Brown
is very tall for a college forward and uses his size to his advantage. He is
generally good for 16 points and eight or nine rebounds per game.
Projection: The low seed will make life difficult for the Falcons. A second
miracle in two weeks is probably too much to ask. At least they get to go
back to Florida after the loss.