Regional Roundup

March 12, 2001|By Brent Jones

Going to Minneapolis: No. 1-ranked Stanford has the easiest road of any of the four top seeds. Second-seeded Iowa State, fourth-seeded Indiana and sixth-seeded Wisconsin are the only teams listed in the Rating Percentage Index's top 20 besides Stanford. The Cardinal did not hit a slump this season, unlike most of the other top teams, and has looked from Day One like a team ready to make a national championship run.

Team on the rise: The Terps had won six in a row, all by double-digit margins, before losing by two points to Duke in the ACC tournament semifinals. They have depth, good low-post play and solid outside shooting.

Team on the decline: Wisconsin has lost five of its past eight, including a quarterfinal exit in the Big Ten tournament at the hands of Indiana.

Cinderella story: In what was supposed to be a transition year, the Hoosiers made it to the final of the Big Ten tournament and finished with 21 wins. This came in the wake of Bob Knight's firing and subsequent promotion of Mike Davis to interim coach. Davis has put himself in a good position to remain coach after this season.

Prime-time player: Casey Jacobsen, Stanford. Jacobsen is averaging 18 points and shooting 46 percent from three-point territory. He is on the short list to be the national Player of the Year.

Most underrated player: St. Joseph's Marvin O'Connor, a 6-foot-4 guard, is averaging 21.6 points and is the team's emotional leader. An explosive scorer, O'Connor's size makes him tough to guard.

Coaching edge: Cincinnati's Bob Huggins, Stanford's Mike Montgomery, Arkansas' Nolan Richardson and Maryland's Gary Williams headline the field. Of the three, Richardson is the only one who has coached his team to a national championship (1994). But he by far has the least to work with, leaving the door open for Montgomery to take Stanford to its second Final Four in four years.

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