NCAA regional breakdown

March 18, 2010

Midwest Region
Get to know No. 1: A multitude of Kansas Jayhawks can beat an opponent with a rotation of eight players. Point guard Sherron Collins (15.3 ppg, 4.4 apg) and 6-foot-11 center Cole Aldrich (11.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg) are eager to earn a second national title. Freshman guard Xavier Henry (45.2 percent shooting) is dangerous. Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris combine for 19.1 points and 11.5 rebounds. Defense ranks second nationally.

Cinderella: No. 11 San Diego State.

Best first-round matchup: No. 11 San Diego State over No. 6 Tennessee. Aztecs got off the bubble by winning five straight, including Mountain West tourney title. Their top three scorers and rebounders are 6-7, 6-8 and 6-9 forwards, which could neutralize Tennessee's 6-9 F-C Wayne Chism.

The buzz: Some say the key to beating Ohio State is Evan Turner fouling out. But Ohio State is 2-1 and Turner scored 23, 26 and 31 points in those games. … Georgia Tech freshman forward Derrick Favors averaged 16.4 ppg in past nine. … All five starters return from last season's Northern Iowa team that made the tournament. … Houston coach Tom Penders is one of just eight coaches to lead four different teams to the tournament.

Shannon Ryan

West Region
Get to know No. 1: Syracuse's Arinze Onuaku is expected to miss the first-round game because of a quadriceps injury he suffered in the Big East tournament. The 6-9, 260-pound center is the all-time career leader in field-goal percentage (.649). Depth and a zone defense are the Orange's trademarks. Five players average double-digit scoring; they shoot 51.6 percent as a team and hold opponents to less than 40 percent shooting.

Cinderella: No. 7 Brigham Young. The Cougars are led by an inspired coach in Dave Rose, a pancreatic cancer survivor. They won 15 straight earlier before running into equally hot New Mexico.

Best first-round matchup: No. 5 Butler vs. No. 12 Texas-El Paso. The Bulldogs enter on an 18-game winning streak but haven't played a quality opponent since losing to Alabama-Birmingham on Dec. 22.

The buzz: BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, who scored 45 points against Texas Christian, shoots 89.6 percent on free throws. … Gonzaga probably lost a chance to play its first-round game nearby in Spokane when it dropped the West Coast Conference final game to Saint Mary's. … Speedy Kansas State point guard Denis Clemente, a relative of baseball great Roberto Clemente, shot 51.2 percent in the Big 12 tournament. … Syracuse started the season unranked after losing three starters early to the NBA draft.

Shannon Ryan

East Region
Get to know No. 1: Kentucky starts three freshmen, but all are potential NBA draft picks next season. Freshman point guard John Wall (16.9 ppg) is speedy and athletic. Forward DeMarcus Cousins (15.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg) takes care of the inside. Like coach John Calipari's Memphis team that went to the NCAA title game and lost to Kansas in 2008, Kentucky stinks at free throws. The Wildcats make only 68 percent from the line. They also tend to have temper tantrums and show their frustrations easily.

Cinderella: Cornell. The Big Red shoots better than 43 percent on 3-pointers and could be the first Ivy League team to win a tournament game in 12 seasons.

Best first-round matchup: No. 6 Marquette vs. No. 11 Washington. Marquette's Lazar Hayward and Washington's Quincy Pondexter are undersized forwards who lead their teams. Marquette should pull this out.

The buzz: Montana's Anthony Johnson scored 42 to beat Weber State in the Big Sky championship. … Wofford makes its first appearance when it faces Wisconsin. … Two of Cornell's four losses came against No. 1 seeds - Syracuse and Kansas.

Shannon Ryan

South Region
Get to know No. 1: Duke won a share of the ACC regular-season title and the tournament outright. The Blue Devils own a No. 3 RPI and are 8-4 against RPI teams 50 or better. Expect them to play with a chip on their shoulder after facing some criticism for receiving the third No. 1 seed over Syracuse and from early in the season when they were deemed "unathletic" by some critics. Guard Jon Scheyer (18.7 ppg) leads the team in scoring.

Cinderella: No. 6 Notre Dame. Usually Cinderellas are lower seeds, but the Irish survived an injury to their best player and earned a high seed just two weeks after they were predicted to be out of the tournament altogether.

Best first-round matchup: No. 13 Siena over No. 4 Purdue. The Boilermakers have lost their mojo without Robbie Hummel (torn ACL, out for season). Siena has beaten a major conference opponent in the previous two tournaments.

The buzz: California's No. 1 strength-of-schedule is deceiving; the team is 1-6 against RPI top 50 teams. … No. 11 Old Dominion's best win was Dec. 19 at Georgetown. … Baylor's Ekpe Udoh, a 6-10 transfer from Michigan, has 124 blocks. … Richmond's backcourt tandem of David Gonzalvez (14.3 ppg) and Kevin Anderson (17.8 ppg) is hard to stop.

Shannon Ryan

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