Midwest at a glance

March 13, 2000|By Jamison Hensley

Going to Indianapolis: While Michigan State is first top seed in NCAA tournament history with seven losses, there is a good reason for it. The Spartans have only lost once since Feb. 6 and have possibly the best one-two punch with Morris Peterson and Mateen Cleaves.

Team on the rise: It's the first team that benefited from Cincinnati's Kenyon Martin going down. As a ninth seed, Saint Louis became only the fifth NCAA team ever to win four games in four days, beating tournament participants Cincinnati and DePaul.

Team on the decline: Once 19-0 and sizing up a top seed, the Syracuse Orangemen have put a new spin on "orange crush." They lost five of their last 10 and were bounced by ninth-seeded Georgetown.

Cinderella story: It belongs to the team without its prince. Auburn lost its last three regular-season games after All-America forward Chris Porter was suspended for accepting money from an agent's representative. But the Tigers have an underrated team defense that could surprise teams.

Prime-time player: Who's been hotter than Iowa State's Marcus Fizer? The Big 12 scoring champion (22.8) and 6-foot-8 power forward has racked up 30 or more points in four of his last five games.

Most underrated player: He barely made the conference all-freshman team, but how could Maryland have replaced Steve Blake this season? Blake has turned the ball over more than three times once in his past seven games, and the Terps are 9-2 when he scores in double figures.

Coaching edge: Utah's Rick Majerus stands out in more ways than one. The rotund coach has used his half-court defense to win 78.5 percent of his games with the Utes and knows how to win in March.

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