West 1. Arizona (26-6) Location, conference: Tucson...

March 13, 2000


1. Arizona (26-6)

Location, conference: Tucson, Ariz., Pacific-10.

Conference finish: Tied for first.

Tournament record: 26-17, 18 years.

Coach: Lute Olson.

Last 10: 8-2.

Top scorers: Michael Wright 15.8; Loren Woods 15.6; Gilbert Arenas 15.2; Jason Gardner 12.9; Richard Jefferson 11.0.

Top rebounders: Wright 8.6; Woods 7.5; Jefferson 4.5; Arenas 4.1.

Scouting report: The biggest strikes against Arizona are its freshman backcourt -- few teams succeed in the postseason with inexperienced guards -- and Woods' continuing back problems. The Wildcats' tenacious defense was second only to Stanford's this season in the Pac-10. The Wildcats probably would have secured a No. 1 seed were it not for back-to-back losses to Oregon State and Oregon earlier this month.

2. St. John's (24-7)

Location, conference: Jamaica, N.Y., Big East.

Conference finish: Third; won conference tournament.

Tournament record: 26-27, 25 years.

Coach: Mike Jarvis.

Last 10: 9-1.

Top scorers: Erick Barkley 16.2; Bootsy Thornton 15.2; Lavor Postell 14.6; Anthony Glover 9.9.

Top rebounders: Postell 6.8; Reggie Jessie 5.7; Thornton 5.5; Glover 5.3.

Scouting report: The Red Storm, who reached the 1999 NCAA South Regional title game before losing to Ohio State, stormed toward the front of the line for NCAA bids thanks to an 8-0 February. They played three games during that time without Barkley, who was serving a pair of NCAA suspensions.

3. Oklahoma (26-6)

Location, conference: Norman, Okla., Big 12.

Conference finish: Tied for third; lost in final of conference tournament.

Tournament record: 22-18, 18 years.

Coach: Kelvin Sampson.

Last 10: 7-3.

Top scorers: Eduardo Najera 18.7; J.R. Raymond 14.0; Nolan Johnson 9.8.

Top rebounders: Najara 9.5; Johnson 5.0; Victor Avila 4.2.

Scouting report: Najera promises to be one of the tournament's most charismatic players. He is expected to be a mid- to low-first-round NBA draft pick. Najera, who has had 15 double-doubles this season, is the Sooners' top scorer, top rebounder and top defender.

4. Louisiana State (26-5)

Location, conference: Baton Rouge, La., Southeastern.

Conference finish: First in West Division; lost in semifinals of conference tournament.

Tournament record: 17-18, 15 years.

Coach: John Brady.

Last 10: 9-1.

Top scorers: Stromile Swift 16.2; Jabari Smith 12.4; Brian Beshara 11.4; Lamont Roland 11.3; Torris Bright 10.0.

Top rebounders: Swift 8.2; Smith 7.1; Beshara 5.1; Roland 4.8.

Scouting report: The Tigers, who hadn't won more than 12 games in any of the previous five seasons, completed one of the great turnarounds in conference history, going from 4-12 in the SEC a year ago to 12-4 this season.

5. Texas (23-8)

Location, conference: Austin, Texas, Big 12.

Conference finish: Second; lost in semifinals of conference tournament.

Tournament record: 16-20, 17 years.

Coach: Rick Barnes.

Last 10: 8-2.

Top scorers: Chris Mihm 17.9; Nnadubem Gabe Muoneke 13.7; Darren Kelly 9.8; Chris Owens 9.3.

Top rebounders: Mihm 10.6; Muoneke 6.3; Owens 5.6.

Scouting report: Mihm was the Longhorns' leading scorer in 21 of the team's 29 regular-season games. Texas played one of the nation's most demanding schedules, including nonconference matchups with Arizona, Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Connecticut.

6. Purdue (21-9)

Location, conference: West Lafayette, Ind., Big Ten.

Conference finish: Third; lost in quarterfinals of conference tournament.

Tournament record: 23-18, 18 years.

Coach: Gene Keady.

Last 10: 8-2.

Top scorers: Brian Cardinal 14.2; Jaraan Cornell 12.6; Mike Robinson 12.2; Carson Cunningham 10.9.

Top rebounders: Robinson 6.4; Cardinal 6.4; Greg McQuay 5.4; Cornell 4.3.

Scouting report: Purdue was in the middle of the pack in most of the Big Ten's offensive and defensive statistics, but this is a team that thrives on its chemistry and unselfishness.

7. Louisville (19-11)

Location, conference: Louisville, Ky., USA.

Conference finish: Second in American Division; lost in quarterfinals of conference tournament.

Tournament record: 48-30, 28 years.

Coach: Denny Crum.

Last 10: 8-2.

Top scorers: Marques Maybin 14.5; Nate Johnson 13.9; Tony Williams 13.7; Reece Gaines 9.1.

Top rebounders: Dion Edward 7.4; Williams 6.2; Johnson 5.3.

Scouting report: Maybin, a junior, finally has learned to crash the boards, to have confidence in his shot, and to play with the aggressiveness Crum demands. The high-flying guard averaged 16.9 points during the Cardinals' final nine games of the regular season.

8. Wisconsin (18-13)

Location, conference: Madison, Wis., Big Ten.

Conference finish: Sixth; lost in semifinals of conference tournament.

Tournament record: 5-4, 5 years.

Coach: Dick Bennett.

Last 10: 7-3.

Top scorers: Mark Vershaw 12.3; Andy Kowske 9.1; Jon Bryant 7.3.

Top rebounders: Kowske 5.9; Vershaw 4.2.

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