Selection Sunday is 117 days away, but staff writer Don Markus gets a jump on the selection committee with his seeded predictions for the field of 64

November 16, 1999|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

1. Cincinnati

Conference: Conference USA

Last year: 27-6

Tournament result: Lost to Temple in East second round

Player to watch: Pete Mickeal

Skinny: The Bearcats have more experience than any other elite team.

2. Connecticut

Conference: Big East

Last year: 34-2

Tournament result: Defeated Duke for NCAA championship

Player to watch: Ajou Ajou Deng

Skinny: With Richard Hamilton gone, more pressure falls on point guard Khalid El-Amin.

3. Auburn

Conference: Southeastern

Last year: 29-4

Tournament result: Lost to Ohio State in South semifinals

Player to watch: Chris Porter

Skinny: The Tigers won't surprise people again, but they still must prove they aren't a fluke.

4. Florida

Conference: Southeastern

Last year: 22-9

Tournament result: Lost to Gonzaga in West semifinals

Player to watch: Mike Miller

Skinny: Billy Donovan's team of mostly sophomores and freshmen has enough talent to win it all.

5. North Carolina

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Last year: 24-10

Tournament result: Lost to Weber State in West first round

Player to watch: Ed Cota

Skinny: Cota's return from suspension gives Tar Heels a huge boost.

6. Michigan State

Conference: Big Ten

Last year: 33-5

Tournament result: Lost to Duke in NCAA semifinals

Player to watch: Mike Chappell

Skinny: Preseason injury to guard Mateen Cleaves makes the Spartans a question mark.

7. Temple

Conference: Atlantic 10

Last year: 24-11

Tournament result: Lost to Duke in East final

Player to watch: Mark Karcher

Skinny: Temple's shooters must come through in the clutch to help point guard Pepe Sanchez.

8. Duke

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Last year: 37-2

Tournament result: Lost to Connecticut in NCAA title game

Player to watch: Jason Williams

Skinny: Duke still has underrated Shane Battier, unsung Chris Carrawell, underused Nate James.

9. Ohio State

Conference: Big Ten

Last year: 27-9

Tournament result: Lost to Connecticut in NCAA semifinals

Player to watch: Scoonie Penn

Skinny: The Buckeyes could have even been better if 7-3 Aleksandar Radojevic wasn't ruled ineligible.

10. Arizona

Conference: Pac-10

Last year: 22-7

Tournament result: Lost to Oklahoma in Midwest first round

Player to watch: Loren Woods

Skinny: The Wildcats will go from a guard-oriented offense to an inside game featuring the 7-1 Woods.

11. Kansas

Conference: Big 12

Last year: 23-10

Tournament result: Lost to Kentucky in Midwest second round

Player to watch: Luke Axtell

Skinny: Axtell, a transfer from Texas, should give the Jayhawks some outside shooting help.

12. Stanford

Conference: Pac-10

Last year: 26-7

Tournament result: Lost to Gonzaga in West second round

Player to watch: Mark Madsen

Skinny: Freshmen Casey Jacobsen and Julius Barnes will pick up the slack for departed backcourt.

13. UCLA

Conference: Pac-10

Last year: 22-9

Tournament result: Lost to Detroit in South first round

Player to watch: Jerome Moiso

Skinny: Earl Watson might prove to be a little less flashy and a little more effective than Baron Davis.

14. Maryland

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Last year: 28-6

Tournament result: Lost to St. John's in South semifinals

Player to watch: Terence Morris

Skinny: Much will ride on how quickly freshman point guard Steve Blake develops.

15. St. John's

Conference: Big East

Last year: 28-9

Tournament result: Lost to Ohio State in South final

Player to watch: Bootsy Thornton

Skinny: The Red Storm will miss Ron Artest's leadership in tough games.

16. Utah

Conference: Mountain West

Last year: 28-5

Tournament result: Lost to Miami (Ohio) in Midwest second round.

Player to watch: Hanno Mottola

Skinny: Despite losing point guard Andre Miller, the Utes return four starters.

17. Kentucky

Conference: Southeastern

Last year: 28-9

Tournament result: Lost to Michigan State in Midwest final

Player to watch: Tayshaun Prince

Skinny: DeMatha freshman Keith Bogans could displace Saul Smith at the point.

18. Syracuse

Conference: Big East

Last year: 21-12

Tournament result: Lost to Oklahoma State in South first round

Player to watch: Etan Thomas

Skinny: Talented freshman guard DeShaun Williams will help point guard Jason Hart.

19. Illinois

Conference: Big Ten

Last year: 14-18

Tournament result: Did not go to a postseason tournament

Player to watch: Frank Williams

Skinny: Lon Kruger has nearly a whole new team, which is good considering last year's team.

20. Tennessee

Conference: Southeastern

Last year: 21-9

Tournament result: Lost to SW Missouri in East second round

Player to watch: Vincent Yarbrough

Skinny: The Volunteers couldn't meet expectations last season, especially early.

21. DePaul

Conference: Conference USA

Last year: 18-13

Tournament result: Lost to Cal in NIT second round

Player to watch: Quentin Richardson

Skinny: Sophomore-dominated team will be expected to make the Big Dance this season.

22. Texas

Conference: Big 12

Last year: 19-13

Tournament result: Lost to Purdue in East first round

Player to watch: Chris Mihm

Skinny: After winning Big 12 in regular season, Rick Barnes has folks in Austin thinking hoops.

23. Fresno State

Conference: Western Athletic

Last year: 21-12

Tournament result: Lost to Cal in NIT first round

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