East1. North Carolina (30-3)Location, conference: Chapel...

March 09, 1998


1. North Carolina (30-3)

Location, conference: Chapel Hill, N.C., Atlantic Coast

Conference finish: Second, won conference tournament

NCAA tournament record: 72-31, 31 seasons

Coach: Bill Guthridge (first season)

Last 10: 8-2

Top scorers: Antawn Jamison 22.9; Shammond Williams 16.5

Top rebounder: Antawn Jamison 9.8

Scouting report: The Tar Heels have the longest consecutive-appearance streak for NCAA tournaments (24). Bill Guthridge has kept the faithful happy, but they won't be happy if Antawn Jamison's back isn't healthy for tournament. Play of Shammond Williams and Ed Cota may determine their fate. North Carolina won national titles in 1982 and '93 under Dean Smith and in '57 under Frank McGuire. The Tar Heels have appeared in every tournament since 1975 and reached the Final Four last season for the 13th time, losing to eventual champion Arizona in the semifinals, 66-58.

2. Connecticut (29-4)

Location, conference: Storrs, Conn.; Big East

Conference finish: First in Big East 6, won conference tournament

NCAA tournament record: 17-20 in 19 seasons

Coach: Jim Calhoun

Last 10: 9-1.

Top scorers: Richard Hamilton 21.4; Khalid El-Amin 15.4

Top rebounder: Jake Voskuhl 7.2

Scouting report: The faster the game, the better the Huskies like it. They are their own worst enemies when emotion lags. Richard Hamilton and Khalid El-Amin are full-court cyclones. Their defense makes them a Final Four threat.

3. South Carolina (23-7)

Location, conference: Columbia, S.C.; Southeastern

Conference finish: Second in SEC East, runner-up in conference tournament

NCAA tournament record: 4-7 in six seasons

Coach: Eddie Fogler

Last 10: 6-4

Top scorers: BJ McKie 18.9; Melvin Watson 11.7

Top rebounder: Ryan Stack 6.0

Scouting report: The Gamecocks haven't forgotten last season's humiliating upset to Coppin State in first-round game. BJ McKie is among quickest guards in the country and USC has among the deepest benches in the country.

4. Michigan State (20-7)

Location, conference: East Lansing, Mich.; Big Ten

Conference finish: Regular-season co-champion

NCAA tournament record: 17-11 in 11 seasons

Coach: Tom Izzo

Last 10: 7-3

Top scorers: Mateen Cleaves 15.5; Jason Klein 11.9

Top rebounder: Antonio Smith 8.9

Scouting report: Mateen Cleaves' wizardry carries Spartans. They must get him open for his share of shots and must continue to out-rebound opponents as they did during regular season by 10 per game.

5. Princeton (26-1)

Location, conference: Princeton, N.J.; Ivy League

Conference finish: Regular-season champion

NCAA tournament record: 12-24 in 20 seasons

Coach: Bill Carmody

Last 10: 10-0

Top scorers: Gabe Lewullis 14.2; Steve Goodrich 13.4

Top rebounder: Gabe Lewullis 5.4; Steve Goodrich 4.6

Scouting report: The team coaches least like to play. The Tigers are incredibly patient and run backdoor cut after backdoor cut, but when you back off they aren't afraid to take the three-pointer. Tigers could do some damage; they took North Carolina deep into a game at Chapel Hill, N.C., before losing.

6. Xavier (22-7)

Location, conference: Cincinnati; Atlantic 10

Conference finish: First in A-10 West, won conference tournament.

NCAA tournament record: 6-11 in 11 seasons

Coach: Skip Prosser

Last 10: 8-2

Top scorers: Darnell Williams 17.3; James Posey 15.2

Top rebounders: James Posey 8.4; Torraye Braggs 8.1

Scouting report: Skip Prosser, formerly of Loyola, has five players back from the team that lost in the second round last year. They are quick and deep and must run bigger teams to have a chance, but they are a dark horse.

7. Indiana (19-11)

Location, conference: Bloomington, Ind.; Big Ten

Conference finish: Sixth

NCAA tournament record: 50-21 in 26 seasons

Coach: Bob Knight

Last 10: 5-5

Top scorers: A. J. Guyton 16.6; Luke Recker 12.6

Top rebounder: Andrae Patterson 5.9

Scouting report: Emotion runs high as usual for the Hoosiers. They may be capable of one win, but a Sweet 16 appearance would be a surprise.

8. North Carolina-Charlotte (19-10)

Location, conference: Charlotte, N.C.; Conference USA

Conference finish: Second in America division, runner-up in conference tournament

NCAA tournament record: 4-6 in five seasons

Coach: Melvin Watkins

Last 10: 8-2

Top scorers: Demarco Johnson 20.7; Sean Colson 15.3

Top rebounder: Demarco Johnson 9.0

Scouting report: The 49ers were a poor road team and have underachieved. They began the season as a Top 25 team and have Top 25 talent. The only way they advance very far is to continue to push on the offensive boards.

9. Illinois-Chicago (22-5)

Location, conference: Chicago; Midwestern Collegiate

Conference finish: Second

NCAA tournament record: First appearance

Coach: Jimmy Collins

Last 10: 8-2

Top scorers: Mark Miller 20.1; Bryant Lowe 15.4

Top rebounder: Bryant Lowe 8.9

Scouting report: The Flames made the Big Dance despite being KO'd by Wright State in first round of the MCC tourney. If they can generate more than 50 points a game from guards Mark Miller and Anthony Coomes, they may pull an upset, but they need better post defense.

10. Oklahoma (22-10)

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