Big Ten proves big zero, while ACC is four real

March 20, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

OK, so picking 1,000-to-1 shot Indiana and lovable Bob Knight to go to the Final Four was not one of the smartest moves I ever made. But the NCAA tournament selection committee's picking six Big Ten teams was dumber to my dumb.

With five from the Big Ten reduced to so much first-round fodder -- Purdue, which could have made it an imperfect 0-6, went down yesterday in the second round to Memphis -- logic is starting to prevail in what still has the makings of a wild final in two weeks.

That the Atlantic Coast Conference has all four of its tournament teams still in the hunt isn't surprising, and illustrates why the committee should be second-guessed as much for not choosing Georgia Tech as it should be commended for taking Manhattan and Miami of Ohio.

"Maybe the ACC should expand to 11 teams, so we'll get six or seven in every year," one ACC coach said sarcastically yesterday.

Here's how the regionals are shaping up after the first two rounds:

* EAST: Top-seeded Wake Forest looks a little more vulnerable coming off its 64-59 victory over Saint Louis in Baltimore on Saturday than it did coming off the ACC tournament. The matchup of Wake's Tim Duncan and Oklahoma State's Bryant Reeves could be one of the most interesting so far, but Duncan's quickness and size might leave Big Country and the Cowboys in big trouble.

Second-seeded Massachusetts is starting to play up to midseason form, before center Marcus Camby got hurt and guard Mike Williams was suspended. If the Minutemen can slow down Tulsa, a Duncan-Camby showdown will provide another showcase of the country's top big men.

* WEST: Top-seeded UCLA looked very beatable against Missouri yesterday in Boise, and Jim Harrick's team should have its hands full again Thursday with Mississippi State.

If they survive, which they should, the Bruins will face second-seeded Connecticut or third-seeded Maryland. Both can match UCLA with quickness and defensive pressure, but many seem to feel that the Terps will be a bigger obstacle because of their defense. Maryland did a great job of slowing down Texas' running game. The Huskies, when they're at peak form, could have the best transition game in the country.

* SOUTHEAST: The last time North Carolina's Dean Smith and Georgetown's John Thompson put their friendship on hold for a game with such significance was in 1982, when the Tar Heels and some freshman named Jordan beat the Hoyas at the Louisiana Superdome for the national championship. They've met only once since, in the long forgotten ACC-Big East Challenge.

North Carolina certainly has the edge in talent, but not in depth, and freshman Allen Iverson is one of those special talents who seem to thrive in NCAA tournament situations. But as long as Rasheed Wallace is reasonably healthy, the Tar Heels shouldn't have any problems.

The matchup between top-seeded Kentucky and Arizona State will pit two of the most athletic teams remaining, but the Wildcats should have too much firepower off the bench for the Sun Devils. It's also ASU's first Sweet 16 appearance since 1975, so you never know how Bill Frieder's team will react.

* MIDWEST: Things are shaky at the top, where top-seeded Kansas has had at least one scare and the second seed, defending national champion Arkansas, has had two. The Razorbacks appear to be living on borrowed time, and unless they soon play up to their potential, Memphis might be just the team to knock them out.

It's as close to a border war as the tournament will get -- unless Arkansas and Kentucky meet in the Final Four semis -- and the Tigers nearly won their regular-season matchup.

Virginia is physical enough to beat the Jayhawks as long as the Cavaliers don't go on one of their 10-for-40 shooting sprays.

It will certainly deflate a growing controversy surrounding the committee for putting the Jayhawks, whose athletic director is its chairman, in Kansas City for the regional semis and finals. Come to think of it, the last time Kansas won the national title the Final Four was held in Kemper Arena. Hmmmmmmm.

NCAA TOURNAMENT STATISTICS

Single-game scorers

39 -- Antonio McDyess, Alabama vs. Pennsylvania, first round

35 -- Petey Sessoms, Old Dominion vs. Villanova, first round

32 -- D Wilson, Mississippi State vs.Utah, regional semifinals

31 -- Seals, Tulsa vs. Old Dominion, regional semifinals; Joe Smith, Maryland vs. Texas, second round

30 -- Jerome Allen, Pennsylvania vs. Alabama, first round; Johnny Miller, Temple vs. Cincinnati, first round

29 -- John Wallace, Syracuse vs. Arkansas, regional semifinals; Rayshard Allen, Tulane vs. Kentucky, second round

28 -- Junior Burrough, Virginia vs. Miami, second round; Maurio Hanson, Tennessee-Chattanooga vs. Connecticut, first round; Ray Jackson, Michigan vs. Western Kentucky, first round; Shawn Respert, Michigan State vs. Weber State, first round; DeJuan Wheat, Louisville vs. Memphis, first round

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