Ncaa Tournament

Regional Roundup

Midwest

March 17, 2003|By Tribune Newspapers

1. KENTUCKY

Record: 29-3, 16-0 in Southeastern Conference East.

RPI: 1.

Location: Lexington, Ky. (32,549 students).

Coach: Tubby Smith, sixth season, 161-46

Tournament history: This is the Wildcats' 45th appearance and their 12th in a row. UK has won the national title seven times under four coaches, the most recent in 1998 under Smith.

Top players: SG Keith Bogans (16.0 ppg, 2.9 apg), PG Gerald Fitch (12.2 ppg, 41.4 three-point FG pct.), F Chuck Hayes (9.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg).

Skinny: Kentucky ran away with the regular-season title in the SEC, finishing 16-0 and four games ahead of Florida. The Wildcats play smothering defense and get balanced scoring. They can be deadly in transition, thanks to their defensive pressure. If there is a weakness, it's the lack of a consistent three-point threat. In addition, none of their frontcourt players is that strong offensively. But those are minor quibbles. This team has legitimate hopes for the national title.

Famous grad: Actress Ashley Judd.

Little-known fact: UK's William T. Young Library's book endowment is the second-largest in the nation, behind only Harvard.

2. PITTSBURGH

Record: 26-4, 13-3 in Big East Conference.

RPI: 8.

Location: Pittsburgh (33,000 students).

Coach: Ben Howland, third season, 64-35.

Tournament history: 14 appearances (10-15). 1 Final Four (1941).

Top players: G Julius Page (12.3 points), G Brandin Knight (10.9 ppg, 6.3 apg).

Skinny: After reaching the Big East finals in 2002, the Panthers were angered this year when Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, in an effort to compliment them, said they were the best team in the conference but not the most talented.

Famous grad: Frank Bolden, one of the first two African-American journalists ever accredited by the War Department to cover World War II.

Little-known fact: Pitt's new $80 million basketball facility, the Peterson Events Center, is built on the former site of Pitt Stadium, where Tony Dorsett won the 1976 Heisman and led the school to a national championship.

3. MARQUETTE

Record: 23-5, 14-2 in Conference USA.

RPI: 10.

Location: Milwaukee (10,600 students)

Coach: Tom Crean, fourth season, 79-40.

Tournament history: The then-Warriors were national champs in 1977 under the late Al McGuire. But last spring, in their first return to the NCAAs since 1997, the Golden Eagles were upset in the opening round by Tulsa.

Top players: G Dwyane Wade, (21.5 ppg), F Robert Jackson, (15.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg), G Travis Diener, (11.5 ppg, 5.7 apg).

Skinny: Wade is a true difference maker, a legimate National Player of the Year candidate who can beat an opponent in a variety of ways. He has been a catalyst for his team all season and must continue to do that in the tourney. But the Golden Eagles' greatest virtue may well be their tenacity. They're a tough bunch, which they proved conclusively by coming back from 19 points down to win at Louisville.

Famous grads: Amy Madigan, Academy Award-winning actress; Bob Harlan, president of the Green Bay Packers.

Little-known fact: Crean's wife, Joani, is the sister of former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who played for (among other teams) the Bears. His father-in-law, Jack Harbaugh, guided Western Kentucky to last season's Division I-AA national championship and then resigned as its football coach.

4. DAYTON

Record: 23-5, 13-2 in Atlantic 10 Conference.

RPI: 13.

Location: Dayton, Ohio (6,000 students).

Coach: Oliver Purnell, ninth season, 154-115.

Tournament history: 11 previous appearances, lost to UCLA in the 1967 title game. Most recent appearance in 2000, when Dayton lost to Purdue in the first round.

Top players: C/F Keith Waleskowski (12.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg), F Brooks Hall (13.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg), G Ramod Marshall (11.8 ppg, 4.7 apg).

Skinny: There's no marquee names here, just plenty of tough veterans and a front line with size, moxie and a relish for banging bodies. Waleskowski, Hall, 6-6, 250-pound Nate Green and 6-11 Sean Finn give Purnell lots of options and Marshall can score and is just as tough defensively as his bigger teammates. The Flyers are going to defend and rebound, that's a given, but they really start flying when they share the ball and spread the scoring.

Famous grad: Humorist Erma Bombeck.

Little-known fact: Only three arenas have played host to more NCAA tournament games than Dayton - Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo., Madison Square Garden in New York and Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Notre Dame's Austin Carr scored a tournament-record 61 points, Adolph Rupp coached his last game for Kentucky and Magic Johnson suffered his only tournament loss - all in Dayton.

5. WISCONSIN

Record: 22-7, 12-4 in Big Ten Conference.

RPI: 25.

Location: Madison, Wis. (41,522 students).

Coach: Bo Ryan, second season, 45-16.

Tournament history: Final Four in 2000, lost to Michigan State in semifinals; lost in first round in 2001 and second round in 2002 to eventual champion Maryland.

Top players: G Kirk Penney, (16.4 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg), G Devin Harris, (12.8 ppg, 3 apg, 1.9 spg), F Alando Tucker, (12.4 ppg, 6 rpg).

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