West Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 11, 2002|By Philadelphia Inquirer

1. Cincinnati

Record: 30-3

Coach: Bob Huggins

Conference: Conference USA

Outlook: The Bearcats are ranked fifth in the country. They won at least a share of the Conference USA regular-season title for the seventh straight year and their fifth outright. G Steve Logan, an All-American and conference Player of the Year, fuels Cincinnati's attack with his ability to score from nearly anywhere. With 1,892 career points, Logan trails only ex-Bearcat Oscar Robinson (2,973) in that category. Defensively, Cincinnati likes to force the issue and depends on turnovers to get its running game going.

2. Oklahoma

Record: 27-4

Coach: Kelvin Sampson

Conference: Big 12

Outlook: The Sooners have won at least 20 games a season over the past five seasons. They lost several key players from last season's team, but they have been just fine with the additions of two junior-college transfers - G Ebi Ere, named the league's Newcomer of the Year, and G Jason Detrick. G Hollis Price, the Sooners' leading scorer, moved from point guard to shooting guard before the season to make room for Quannas White, his high school teammate.

3. Arizona

Record: 22-9

Coach: Lute Olson

Conference: Pac-10

Outlook: The national runner-up last year, Arizona will have to improve its defense if it wants to make a serious run at the championship. PG Jason Gardner is the type of player who can carry a team, and F Luke Walton is one of the Pac-10's most versatile players. He averages 6.4 assists. G Salim Stoudamire is a dangerous three-point threat. In his last seven regular-season games, the freshman guard was 16-for-33 (48.5 percent) from beyond the arc.

4. Ohio State

Record: 23-7

Coach: Jim O'Brien

Conference: Big Ten

Outlook: The Buckeyes had quality wins over Indiana, Illinois and North Carolina State. G Brian Brown scored a total of 62 points in a three-game regular-season stretch against Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State. The senior guard is known for being a selfless player who makes the team better. This was the Buckeyes' fourth straight year compiling 20 wins, matching a school record set from 1960 to '63.

5. Miami

Record: 24-7

Coach: Perry Clark

Conference: Big East

Outlook: The Hurricanes stumbled late in the season, perhaps because of fatigue; they rotate only six players on a regular basis. Still, their players' size and long arms on defense make them tough for any opponent to operate against. G John Salmons is a tall point guard who can make life difficult for smaller opponents. He made second-team All-Big East along with F Darius Rice, a sharpshooter from three-point range.

6. Gonzaga

Record: 29-3

Coach: Mark Few

Conference: West Coast

Outlook: The Zags have won 14 in a row. Gonzaga, Michigan State and Duke are the only three teams to reach the NCAA Sweet 16 in each of the previous three years. G Dan Dickau was the WCC Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player of the conference tournament. He had a not-so-impressive 1.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

7. Xavier

Record: 25-5

Coach: Thad Matta

Conference: Atlantic 10

Outlook: Before starting his first season at Xavier, Matta set the Sweet 16 as the goal for this experienced team. Aggressive around the basket, F David West has been one of the top three players in the conference in each of the past two seasons. He was named A-10 Player of the Year. Rangy and athletic, Romain Sato has developed into a potent three-point shooter (42 percent) and is a sticky defender and tough rebounder.

8. UCLA

Record: 19-11

Coach: Steve Lavin

Conference: Pac-10

Outlook: Despite struggling toward the end of the regular season, UCLA is a dangerous team - witness its 87-77 win over Kansas on Jan. 12. F Jason Kapono is one of the nation's best three-point shooters (47.1 percent). F Matt Barnes (44.4 percent) is also potent. UCLA took a staggering 33 three-point shots in a game against Arizona

9. Mississippi

Record: 20-10

Coach: Rod Barnes

Conference: SEC

Outlook: Under Barnes, who guided the Rebels to a school-record 27 wins last season, basketball is being taken seriously at Ole Miss these days. The Rebels closed the regular season with a flourish, crushing sixth-ranked Alabama by 28 points. David Sanders leads the best three-point-shooting team in the Southeastern Conference, shooting 52 percent. The Rebels make nearly eight three-pointers a game. The speedy little G Jason Harrison (5-5) is a joy to watch.

10. Hawaii

Record: 27-5

Coach: Riley Wallace

Conference: WAC

Outlook: The Rainbow Warriors beat Tulsa twice to claim their second straight regular-season title. The bench goes only two deep, but G Mike McIntyre and F Mindaugas Burneika combine to average nearly 20 points. G Pedrag Savovic has been named to the all-conference first team in the past two seasons. Wallace garnered his third WAC Coach of the Year award.

11. Wyoming

Record: 21-8

Coach: Steve McClain

Conference: Mountain West

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