Ncaa Tournament

Regional Roundup

West

March 17, 2003|By TRIBUNE NEWSPAPER

1. ARIZONA

Record: 25-3, 17-1 in Pacific-10 Conference.

RPI: 2.

Location: Tucson, Ariz. (35,400 students).

Coach: Lute Olson, 20th season, 496-146.

Tournament history: 34-20 in 21 NCAA appearances; won 1997 championship, 84-79, in overtime against Kentucky, lost 2001 title game to Duke, 82-72; played in 1988 and 1994 Final Fours.

Top players: G Jason Gardner (14.4 ppg, 4.9 apg), C Channing Frye (12.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg), G Salim Stoudamire (13.2 ppg, 44.8 three-point FG pct.).

Skinny: As deep as any team in the country, some think that the Wildcats' second five players would be a top 25 team on their own. And they're probably right. Entering the season, the Wildcats were supposed to dominate the Pac-10 and garner a No. 1 ranking. That they have been able to maintain their composure while keeping everyone on the team happy is a testament to everybody's accepting their roles. Not even the midseason Candygate controversy, in which Wildcats players were accused of looting a hotel vending machine for goodies and cash, could derail Arizona, which could play in its third national championship game in seven years.

Famous grad: Journalist Geraldo Rivera.

Little-known fact: While Coach Olson referred to the accusations of Candygate and senior forward Luke Walton serving as a lookout as "hogwash," an Arizona assistant paid the $80 to the hotel, which then considered the matter closed.

2. KANSAS

Record: 25-7, 14-2 in Big 12 Conference.

RPI: 6.

Location: Lawrence, Kan. (26,894 students).

Coach: Roy Williams, 15th season, 413-100.

Tournament history: This is the 32nd appearance for the Jayhawks, who have two national titles and 11 Final Four appearances. Williams has been to three Final Fours but just one (last season) since 1993.

Top players: F Nick Collison (18.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg), G Kirk Hinrich (17.6 ppg), G Keith Langford (15.4 ppg).

Skinny: The Jayhawks have two of the best players in the nation in Collison and Hinrich, who make up perhaps the nation's best inside-outside duo. But with the loss of F Wayne Simien, there is no interior depth, and with its three-guard lineup, Kansas could be susceptible on the boards. With Simien, the Final Four was a legit goal. Without him? It would take a dream run to get there now.

Famous grad: Businessman Clarence Coleman, whose company is best known for its camping equipment.

Little-known fact: Two of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, chartered their first chapters west of the Mississippi River at Kansas. U.S. News and World Report ranks Kansas among the top 50 public universities in the nation.

3. DUKE

Record: 23-6 overall, 11-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference.

RPI: 12.

Location: Durham, N.C. (6,202 students).

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, 23rd season, 587-174.

Tournament history: 27th appearance in NCAAs, 75-23 record, with 13 Final Fours and three national titles.

Top players: F Dahntay Jones (16.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), G Chris Duhon (9.0 ppg, 6.7 apg) G J.J. Reddick (14.2 ppg, .406 three-point FG pct.).

Skinny: The Blue Devils know how to get hot. Check out Krzyzewski's 58-15 NCAA tourney record. Check out the 12-0 record to start this season. Duke does appear like a team primed as usual for a March run. Losses over the past six weeks to Florida State (80) and St. John's (77) aren't embarrassing, but they're not typical of a Duke team. With Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer leaving early for the draft last year, the Blue Devils have rebounded nicely behind Jones and Reddick and need a steady performance from Duhon to reach the Final Four.

Famous grad: President Richard Nixon (law school).

Little-known fact: Duke students had been slumbering at Cameron Indoor Stadium long before Krzyzewskiville, as the school used the facility's concourse for emergency dorm space during a post-World War II enrollment boom.

4. ILLINOIS

Record: 23-6, 11-5 in Big Ten Conference.

RPI: 18.

Location: Champaign, Ill. (36,000 students).

Coach: Bill Self, third season, 76-23.

Tournament history: Eliminated in second round in 1997, 1998 and 2000; lost to Arizona in Elite Eight in 2001; lost to Kansas in Sweet 16 in 2002.

Top players: F Brian Cook, (20.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg), G Dee Brown, (12.4 ppg, 4.9 apg, 1.8 spg), F Roger Powell, (8.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg).

Skinny: Illini have All-America candidate in Cook and never-give-up mindset but are very young (three freshman starters). Less-than-demanding schedule and 1-3 record in close games (by three points or fewer) worrisome signs. Keys: avoiding foul trouble -- especially Cook and freshman F James Augustine -- and not losing poise.

Famous grad: Early NFL star Red Grange.

Little-known fact: Long before freshman point guard Dee Brown made a name for himself, Illinois alum and author Dee Brown became famous for his book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

5. NOTRE DAME

Record: 22-9, 10-6 in Big East Conference.

RPI: 14.

Location: South Bend, Ind. (10,311 students).

Coach: Mike Brey, second season, 42-22.

Tournament history: 26 appearances (27-30), one Final Four (1978).

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