East Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 11, 2002|By Philadelphia Inquirer

1. Maryland

Record: 26-4

Coach: Gary Williams

Conference: ACC

Outlook: Anything less than a second straight Final Four appearance would be a disappointment for the Terrapins. With G Juan Dixon outside, and C Lonny Baxter and F Chris Wilcox inside, the Terps have a terrific outside-in combination, and G Steve Blake can get the team going at a high speed.

2. Connecticut

Record: 24-6

Coach: Jim Calhoun

Conference: Big East

Outlook: The Huskies, the 1999 NCAA champions, posted their 12th 20-win season in the past 14 years behind Calhoun, who won the 600th game of his coaching career during the season. They ranked seventh in the nation in field-goal percentage and second in field-goal percentage defense. F Caron Butler was co-Player of the Year in the Big East. C Emeka Okafor ranked third in the nation in blocked shots (4.4 per game).

3. Georgia

Record: 21-9

Coach: Jim Harrick

Conference: SEC

Outlook: Rashad Wright, who has made some clutch shots to win games at the end, is one of the SEC's top point guards. The Bulldogs are a bit undersized, and G Ezra Williams, who shot 37.2 percent from three-point distance, is the lone long-range threat. Still, only a loss to Tennessee on the final day of the regular season kept them from finishing ahead of Kentucky and Florida.

4. Kentucky

Record: 20-9

Coach: Tubby Smith

Conference: SEC

Outlook: The Wildcats were next to last in the conference in three-point shooting, and they don't do well from the free-throw line, either. Also, they average nearly 15 turnovers a game. Still, the Cats defeated Florida twice. Eleven Wildcats average more than 13 minutes. F Tayshaun Prince is their go-to guy, a slasher with a nice medium-range shot that's tough to defend because of his size.

5. Marquette

Record: 26-6

Coach: Tom Crean

Conference: Conference USA

Outlook: The Golden Eagles are ranked 13th in the country. Marquette is No. 6 among Division I schools in scoring defense; 19 opponents have shot 35 percent or less against the Golden Eagles. Marquette is 19-1 when leading at halftime.

6. Texas Tech

Record: 23-8

Coach: Bob Knight

Conference: Big 12

Outlook: Nobody expected Knight to turn around the Red Raiders (9-18 last season) so quickly, which is why he is a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award.

7. N.C. State

Record: 22-10

Coach: Herb Sendek

Conference: ACC

Outlook: The Wolfpack saved Sendek's job by earning their first tournament appearance in more than a decade. They did it with an aggressive perimeter defense that held opponents to 30.3 percent three-point shooting. Opponents also averaged more than three turnovers more than N.C. State per game. All five starters were well over 70 percent from the line.

8. Wisconsin

Record: 18-12

Coach: Bo Ryan

Conference: Big Ten

Outlook: Credit Ryan with turning a 1-4 start into an NCAA tournament bid. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. With a 74-54 win over Michigan on Feb. 27, the Badgers claimed a piece of the Big Ten regular-season title for the first time since 1947. G Kirk Penney is the team's only player among the Big Ten's scoring leaders. He scored 21 in the clincher against Michigan. Wisconsin posted home wins over Marquette, Illinois and Ohio State, and road wins over Indiana and Michigan State.

9. St. John's

Record: 20-11

Coach: Mike Jarvis

Conference: Big East

Outlook: The Red Storm didn't exactly dazzle opponents with their offense, but their defense was good enough to win six games while shooting less than 40 percent from the field. G Marcus Hatten, a transfer from Baltimore and Tallahassee Junior College, scored more points in Big East games than anyone else, at a 22.3-point average. He shot 39 percent from the field and only 28 percent from three-point range, but he averaged 3.3 steals, good for second in the conference.

10. Michigan State

Record: 19-11

Coach: Tom Izzo

Conference: Big Ten

Outlook: Michigan State has gone to the past three Final Fours. This season, the Spartans have struggled after losing seven seniors from last year's team, including Jason Richardson. The loss of F Adam Wolfe to a season-ending hamstring injury was damaging as well. G Marcus Taylor led the Spartans in scoring in 14 games, and he is just the second player in Big Ten history to lead the conference in scoring and assists. The Spartans beat Indiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Illinois, and Ohio State twice.

11. Southern Illinois

Record: 26-7

Coach: Bruce Weber

Conference: Missouri Valley

Outlook: The Salukis had to sweat out the decision of the NCAA selection committee after dropping an 84-76 decision in the final of the MVC tournament to Creighton, a team they had swept during the regular season. The team has three players who made 40 or more shots from beyond the arc. G Kent Williams led the team with 65 treys and shot better than 39 percent from deep. F Rolan Roberts was named defensive player of the year. He led the league in blocked shots with 2.4 per game.

12. Tulsa

Record: 26-6

Coach: John Phillips

Conference: Western Athletic

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