Midwest

March 10, 1997

1. Minnesota

Record: 27-3.

Location, conference: Minneapolis; Big Ten.

Conference finish: First.

NCAA tournament record: 8-6.

Coach: Clem Haskins (11th season, 198-140).

Starters: F Courtney James, 6-8, So., 8.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg; F Sam Jacobson, 6-6, Jr., 13.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg; C John Thomas, 6-9, Sr., 9.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg; G Bobby Jackson, 6-1, Sr., 14.4 ppg, 4.3 apg; G Eric Harris, 6-3, Jr., 12.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg.

Scouting report: The Golden Gophers had won 11 straight before losing to Wisconsin in their regular-season finale and clinched their first league title in 15 years. Minnesota is 7-2 in games decided by five points or less and 11-3 in games with single-digit margins of victory.

2. UCLA

Record: 21-7.

Location, conference: Los Angeles; Pac-10.

Conference finish: First.

NCAA tournament record: 74-25.

Coach: Steve Lavin (first season).

Starters: F Charles O'Bannon, 6-5, Sr., 16.7 ppg., 7.2 rpg; F J.R. Henderson, 6-7, Jr., 13.8 ppg., 6.4 rpg.; C Jelani McCoy, 6-6, Jr., 11.1 ppg., 6.8 rpg.; G Toby Bailey, 6-2, Sr., 13.7 ppg., 5.4 rpg.; G Cameron Dollar, 6-0, Sr., 7.3 ppg., 2.8 rpg.

Scouting report: What started as a season of controversy has turned into one of content for the Bruins, who have gone 18-4 since Lavin abandoned the high-post offense for a free-wheeling motion offense.

3. Cincinnati

Record: 25-7.

Location, conference: Cincinnati; Conference USA.

Conference finish: First in Conference USA Blue Division.

NCAA tournament record: 31-14.

Coach: Bob Huggins (eighth season, 191-70).

Starters: F Ruben Patterson, 6-6, Jr., 14.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg; F Danny Fortson, 6-7, Jr., 21.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg; C Jackson Julson, 6-9, Jr., 2.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg; G Damon Flint, 6-5, Sr., 9.0 ppg, 4.0 apg; G Darnell Burton, 6-2, Sr., 14.2 ppg, 3.1 apg.

Scouting report: The Bearcats are coming off a 91-79 loss to Marquette in the conference tournament semifinals. Cincinnati has struggled against ranked teams, going 1-3, with its only victory over then-No. 21 Tulane. The Bearcats are 10-1 when Fortson, a preseason All-American, reaches double figures in rebounds.

4. Clemson

Record: 21-9.

Location, conference: Clemson, S.C.; Atlantic Coast Conference.

Conference finish: Fourth.

NCAA tournament record: 6-5.

Coach: Rick Barnes (third season, 54-33).

Starters: G Merl Code, 6-2, Sr., 10.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg; G Terrell McIntyre, 5-9, So., 13.4 ppg, 4.5 apg; C Andrius Jurkunas, 6-9, So., 2.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg; F Greg Buckner, 6-4, Jr., 15.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg; F Iker Iturbe, 6-7, So., 5.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg.

Scouting report: Only five of the 30 opponents and two of the past nine have had more assists than turnovers against Clemson. Either Buckner or McIntyre has led the Tigers in scoring in 24 of their past 25 games.

5. Tulsa

Record: 23-9.

Location, conference: Tulsa, Okla.; Western Athletic Conference.

Conference finish: Second in the WAC Mountain Division.

NCAA tournament record: 5-9.

Coach: Steve Robinson (second season, 45-16).

Starters: F Michael Ruffin, 6-8, So., 8.2 ppg., 10.2 rpg. F Shea Seals, 6-5, Sr., 21.5 ppg., 5.7 rpg. C Rafael Maldonado, 6-11, Sr., 5.0 ppg., 3.9 rpg. G Jonnie Gendron, 6-3, So., 7.0 ppg., 3.0 rpg. G Rod Thompson, 6-2, Jr., 9.9 ppg., 2.6 rpg.

Scouting report: The Golden Hurricane recorded its second straight 20-win season and is making its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

6. Iowa State

Record: 20-8.

Location, conference: Ames, Iowa; Big 12.

L Conference finish: Tied for second in Big 12 North Division.

NCAA tournament record: 6-9.

Coach: Tim Floyd (third season, 67-28).

Starters: F Shawn Bankhead, 6-6, Sr., 9.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg; F Kenny Pratt, 6-5, Sr., 14.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg; C Kelvin Cato, 6-11, Sr., 11.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg; G Jacy Holloway, 7-0, Sr., 5.7 ppg, 6.0 apg; G Dedric Willoughby, 6-3, Sr., 18.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg.

Scouting report: The Cyclones dropped three of their last four conference games by a total of 10 points and were routed by top-ranked Kansas, 72-48, in the Big 12 tournament semifinals. Cato is an imposing presence inside, having blocked 100 shots during the regular season. Iowa State ranks among the top 10 in scoring defense, holding opponents to 59.0 ppg.

7. Xavier, Ohio

Record: 22-5.

Location: Cincinnati; Atlantic 10.

Conference finish: First in Atlantic 10 West.

NCAA tournament record: 5-10.

Coach: Skip Prosser (third season, 58-24)

Starters: F T. J. Johnson, 6-7, Jr., 8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg; F Darnell Williams, 6-4, So., 10.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg; C Torraye Braggs, 6-8, Jr., 14.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg; G Lenny Brown, 6-2, So., 15.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg; G Gary Lumpkin, 6-2, So., 15.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg.

Scouting report: The 11th-ranked Musketeers win with balance, getting double-digit scoring from four starters. Guards Brown and Lumpkin can dominate games when both play well.

8. Mississippi

Record: 20-8.

Location, conference: University, Miss.; Southeastern.

Conference finish: First in SEC Western Division.

NCAA tournament record: 0-1.

Coach: Rob Evans (fifth season, 63-72).

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