Midwest at a glance

March 09, 1998|By Christian Ewell

Going to San Antonio: Kansas has been a top seed twice and a No. 2 once but has been stopped short of the Final Four in each of the past three seasons. But most of the competition here is shaky, and the Jayhawks haven't lost since Jan. 19.

Team on the rise: Prairie View A&M, obviously. Three of the Panthers' 13 wins came in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament. Team on the decline: Florida State beat UConn, beat Arizona and nearly beat Kansas during the first two months of the season. That apparently warranted postseason entry for the Seminoles, who lost 10 ACC games.

Cinderella story: From the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, Detroit would seem to be a natural for this category. But St. HTC John's gets the nod after fulfilling expectations placed upon blue-chippers Felipe Lopez and Zendon Hamilton four years ago.

Prime-time players: Slim pickings in this region. After Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz of Kansas, victims of dubious tournament history, there's not much. Other candidates include the often overlooked Ansu Sesay of Ole Miss and the untested Lee Nailon of Texas Christian.

Most underrated players: Rhode Island's backcourt of Tyson Wheeler and Cutino Mobley would seem to be as threatening as any in the region. Mobley was the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, while Wheeler is blindingly quick. Or how about Bryce Drew, who has led Valparaiso into the tournament for the third consecutive season?

Coaching edge: The best coaches in this region on paper -- Kansas' Roy Williams and Purdue's Gene Keady -- haven't found great results relative to their seedings. The only coach in the region with a championship ring is Rhode Island's Jim Harrick, who won with UCLA in 1995.

Pub Date: 3/09/98

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