Midwest Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 12, 2007|By ORLANDO SENTINEL

1. FLORIDA

LOCATION -- Gainesville, Fla.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Southeastern Conference tournament.

RECORD -- 29-5.

RPI -- 6.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 8-3.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Corey Brewer (6-9 junior, 12.7 pts., 4.5 reb., 1.7 steals); G Taurean Green (6-0 junior, 13.1 pts., 3.3 assists, 40.7 three-point pct., 86.9 FT pct.); F-C Al Horford (6-10 junior, 13.2 pts., 9.1 reb., 1.7 blocks, 60.8 FG pct.).

THE BUZZ -- When the Gators are clicking, they're one of the two or three best teams in the nation. Horford and C/F Joakim Noah are good defenders in the paint, and Noah's emotion sparks the team. But when Green, who can be extremely sloppy with the ball, and senior G Lee Humphrey aren't hitting three-pointers, the offense can bog down. Brewer is a lockdown defender and is the team's only slasher on offense.

2. WISCONSIN

LOCATION -- Madison, Wis.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Big Ten

RECORD -- 29-5.

RPI -- 4.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 9-4.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Kammron Taylor (6-2 senior, 12.6 pts., 40.3 three-point pct.); F Alando Tucker (6-6 senior, 20.2 pts., 5.3 reb.).

THE BUZZ -- The Badgers are as well-coached as any team in the field, and Tucker is a legitimate All-American. But other than him, this is not a team overflowing with talent or, frankly, athleticism. The Badgers are efficient on offense, take care of the ball, play good defense (they've allowed more than 70 points just three times), avoid fouling (the Badgers have made more free throws than their foes have attempted) and rebound well. But their best big man, 6-11 junior Brian Butch, may not be able to play in the tournament because of an elbow injury.

3. OREGON

LOCATION -- Eugene, Ore.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Pacific-10 tournament.

RECORD -- 26-7.

RPI -- 21.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 8-5.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Aaron Brooks (6-0 senior, 17.6 pts., 4.6 reb., 4.4 assists, 40.7 three-point pct., 82.9 FT pct.); F Maarty Leunen (6-9 junior, 10.8 pts., 8.5 reb., 40.4 three-point pct.); G Bryce Taylor (6-5 junior, 14.8 pts., 4.7 reb., 52.2 FG pct., 42.0 three-point pct., 83.5 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Ducks stumbled a bit in February but remain dangerous because of a solid backcourt and a good group of athletes. Brooks has played at a high level all season. But there is no real low-post threat on either end, and if the three-pointers aren't falling, the Ducks struggle to score.

4. MARYLAND

LOCATION -- College Park

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Atlantic Coast Conference

RECORD -- 24-8.

RPI -- 16.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 8-5.

KEY PLAYERS -- F James Gist (6-8 junior, 12.7 pts., 7.2 reb., 2.1 blocks, 53.9 FG pct.); G D.J. Strawberry (6-5 senior, 15.2 pts., 4.3 reb., 2.1 steals); G Greivis Vasquez (6-5 freshman, 9.9 pts., 4.6 assists, 81.8 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Terps caught fire in mid-February, going from a bubble team to a team that went into its league tournament hoping for a No. 3 or 4 seed. They want a fast pace and have a nice inside-outside balance. Vasquez has been steady at the point, and a long NCAA run depends on him remaining so; he's one of three Terps with at least 100 assists. Maryland's athleticism is put to good use defensively, but the Terps can be out-muscled on the boards.

5. BUTLER

LOCATION -- Indianapolis.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Horizon League

RECORD -- 27-6.

RPI -- 27.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 6-3.

KEY PLAYERS -- G A.J. Graves (6-1 junior, 17.0 pts., 1.5 steals, 95.8 FT pct.); G Mike Green (6-1 junior, 14.1 pts., 5.8 reb., 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals); F Pete Campbell (6-7 sophomore, 8.9 pts., 51.4 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Bulldogs are gritty, well-coached and fundamentally sound. In other words, they're not big, they lack athleticism and they must hit their three-pointers if they're to win. Butler plays solid defense, but a team with a lot of athletes is going to cause all sorts of problems. Graves is a good one and can pop it from long range.

6. NOTRE DAME

LOCATION -- South Bend, Ind.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Big East

RECORD -- 24-7.

RPI -- 31.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 4-4.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Russell Carter (6-4 senior, 17.2 pts., 4.9 reb., 40.6 three-point pct.); G Colin Falls (6-5 senior, 15.4 pts., 40.4 three-point pct., 84.2 FT pct.); F Rob Kurz (6-9 junior, 12.6 pts., 7.9 reb., 1.5 blocks, 80.7 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Carter-Falls duo has been lethal at times to Irish opponents. Notre Dame shoots threes well, passes well, rebounds well and plays solid defense. But when the pace is slowed, the Irish struggle. Five of their losses came when they scored less than 70 points.

7. NEVADA-LAS VEGAS

LOCATION -- Las Vegas.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Mountain West tournament.

RECORD -- 28-6.

RPI -- 10.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 5-2.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Wink Adams (6-0 sophomore, 14.3 pts.); G Kevin Kruger (6-2 senior, 13.6 pts., 5.0 assists, 84.0 FT pct.); F Wendell White (6-6 senior, 14.2 pts., 6.2 reb.).

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