No. 1 KENTUCKY (29-3)
NCAA HISTORY: Record 45th appearance, 13th straight. Thirteen Final Fours, seven titles, most recent in 1998. Lost to Maryland last year in East semis.
STARTERS: F Erik Daniels, F Chuck Hayes, F Marquis Estill, G Keith Bogans, G Gerald Fitch.
OUTLOOK: The natives were restless after an 18-point December defeat at Louisville, but the Wildcats have been virtually unbeatable since, dominating the nation's best conference, the SEC. Disappointing last season as a junior, Bogans is playing like an All-American. Few, if any, teams defend as well as Kentucky.
No. 2 PITTSBURGH (26-4)
NCAA HISTORY: 15th appearance, second straight. Final Four in 1941. Lost to Kent State last year in South semis.
COACH: Ben Howland (2-2 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Ontario Lett, F Donatas Zavackas, G Brandin Knight, G Julius Page, G Jaron Brown.
OUTLOOK: Tough team to evaluate. The Big East pales to the Big 12 and SEC, the Panthers played a terrible non-league schedule and Knight failed to match preseason All-America hype. That said, Big East tournament champs are well-coached and rank among national leaders in shooting percentage, scoring defense and rebounding margin.
No. 3 MARQUETTE (23-5)
NCAA HISTORY: 23rd appearance, second straight. Two Final Fours and 1972 title. Lost to Tulsa last year in first round.
COACH: Tom Crean (0-1 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Scott Merritt, F Todd Townsend, C Robert Jackson G Dwyane Wade, G Travis Diener.
OUTLOOK: Al McGuire would love this Final Four-caliber team. Wade is the anointed star, the successor to McGuire's Dean Meminger and Butch Lee, and at 6-feet-5 scores from inside and out. Jackson and Diener are complementary players. Golden Eagles golden from free-throw line and defeated Wisconsin and Wake Forest outside C-USA.
No. 4 DAYTON (24-5)
NCAA HISTORY: 12th appearance, only third in 15 years. Final Four in 1967. Hasn't advanced since 1990.
COACH: Oliver Purnell (0-2 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Brooks Hall, F Keith Waleskowski, C Sean Finn, G Rashod Marshall, G Mark Jones.
OUTLOOK: The Flyers' fourth consecutive 20-plus-victory season, but the best team in Purnell's nine years. Dayton beat Cincinnati and Marquette, played Duke tough on the road and won A-10 tournament. Only A-10 regular-season losses were to Xavier. Same starting five every game. Marshall a quality PG who rarely turns the ball over.
No. 5 WISCONSIN (22-7)
NCAA HISTORY: Ninth appearance, fifth straight. Two Final Fours, title in 1941. Lost to Maryland last year in second round.
COACH: Bo Ryan (1-1 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Mike Wilkinson, F Alando Tucker, G Freddie Owens, G Kirk Penney, G Devin Harris.
OUTLOOK: After 55 years without a Big Ten title, the Badgers have won two consecutive regular seasons crowns, albeit in a down cycle for the conference. Penney is a two-time, first-team all-league player with Final Four experience. Badgers are stingy on defense but have no notable non-league wins and no starter taller than 6-feet-5. Lost in quarters of Big Ten tournament.
No. 6 MISSOURI (21-10)
NCAA HISTORY: 21st appearance, fifth straight. No Final Fours. Lost to Oklahoma last year in West final.
COACH: Quin Snyder (4-3 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Travon Bryant, C Arthur Johnson, G Rickey Paulding, G Ricky Clemons, G Jimmy McKinney.
OUTLOOK: Veterans Paulding and Johnson and junior college transfer Clemons average more than 16 points apiece. Snyder is in his fourth NCAA in as many seasons as a coach. But don't expect a repeat of last season's surprising run to the West Regional final. Tigers have little depth and defeated no one of note outside the Big 12.
No. 7 INDIANA (20-12)
NCAA HISTORY: 32nd appearance, 18th straight. Eight Final Fours, five titles, most recent in 1987. Lost to Maryland last year in title game.
COACH: Mike Davis (5-2 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Jeff Newton, C George Leach, G Tom Coverdale, G Bracey Wright, G Marshall Strickland.
OUTLOOK: An 8-0 start that included conquests of Gonzaga and Maryland stamped the Hoosiers as national contenders. But they faded during Big Ten play, leaving too large a load for freshman Wright, IU's leading scorer. Moving senior F Kyle Hornsby from starter to sixth man seemed to energize IU late in regular season and in the Big Ten tournament.
No. 8 OREGON (23-9)
NCAA HISTORY: Eighth appearance, second straight. One Final Four, champ of first tournament (1939). Lost to Kansas last year in Midwest final.
COACH: Ernie Kent (3-3 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Robert Johnson, F Luke Jackson, C Brian Helquist, G Luke Ridnour, G James Davis.
OUTLOOK: Not quite as good as last season's regional finalists. But with the Lukes pacing five double-figure scorers, the Ducks, among the national leaders in 3-point and free-throw shooting, are versatile enough to give most defenses fits. They defeated Kansas early and won the Pac-10 tournament after finishing fourth in the regular season.
No. 9 UTAH (24-7)
NCAA HISTORY: 24th appearance, eighth in nine years. Five Final Fours, most recent in 1998. Champs in '44. Lost to Indiana last year in first round.
COACH: Rick Majerus (17-10 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Britton Johnsen, F Trace Caton, C Tim Frost, G Nick Jacobson, G Tim Drisdom.
OUTLOOK: Majerus is 9-1 in first-round games after last year's loss to Indiana. Dominance of Mountain West and victories against Alabama and Arizona State indicate he's ready to resume winning ways. Johnsen, Utah's best player, was a freshman on the 1998 Final Four squad and sat out two years on a Mormon mission.
No. 10 ALABAMA (17-11)
NCAA HISTORY: 16th appearance, second straight. Never advanced beyond regional semis. Lost to Kent State last year in second round.
COACH: Mike Gottfried (1-3 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Kennedy Winston, F Erwin Dudley, C Kenny Walker, G Maurice Williams, G Antoine Pettway.
OUTLOOK: Pick the Tide at your own risk. Alabama won first nine and leaped to No. 1 in the polls before losing seven of 10 at midseason and finishing 7-9 in SEC. First road victory, at Tennessee, didn't come until Feb. 22. Defeated Oklahoma and Xavier outside SEC. Dudley, the league's top rebounder, is a premier power forward.
No. 11 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (24-6)
NCAA HISTORY: 6th appearance, second straight. Defeated Texas Tech and Georgia last season before losing to UConn in East semis.
COACH: Bruce Weber (2-1 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Jermaine Dearman, C Sylvester Willis, G Kent Williams, G Darren Brooks, G Stetson Hairston.
OUTLOOK: Salukis lost two of three games against Missouri Valley rival Creighton in their only games against the top 50. Four starters average between 11 and 15 points for a team that won eight road games and makes 40 percent of its 3-point shots. Last year's tournament run should make this a confident squad.
No. 12 WEBER STATE (26-5)
NCAA HISTORY: 13th appearance, first since 1999 when upset North Carolina in first round. Never advanced beyond regional semis.
COACH: Joe Cravens (1st NCAA).
STARTERS: F Nic Sparrow, F Slobodan Ocokoljia, C Stephan Bachmann, G Jermaine Boyette, G John Hamilton.
OUTLOOK: Wildcats raced through the Big Sky regular season and tournament undefeated. They've won 17 straight but played only three games against the top 100, beating BYU and losing to Utah and Utah State. Boyette is a two-time, conference Player of the Year, and Ohio State transfer Ocokoljia brought needed bulk.
No. 13 TULSA (22-9)
NCAA HISTORY: 14th appearance, fourth in five years. Regional runner-up in 2000. Lost to Kentucky in second round last year.
COACH: John Phillips (1-1 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Charlie Davis, F Kevin Johnson, G Dante Swanson, G Jarius Glenn, G Jason Parker.
OUTLOOK: With four starters returning from the team that upset Marquette in last year's first round, it's no surprise the Golden Hurricane is back in the NCAA tournament. Tulsa has won 11 of 13, including three in Western Athletic tournament. Lost to Kansas and Gonzaga by nine each outside WAC. Swanson, Parker and Johnson average between 14.9 and 15.1 points.
No. 14 HOLY CROSS (25-4)
NCAA HISTORY: 11th appearance, third straight. Two Final Fours, national title in 1947. Gave Kansas fits in first round last year before losing 70-59.
COACH: Ralph Willard (2-4 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Tim Szatko, C Patrick Whearty, G Brian Wilson, G Jave Meade, G Greg Kinsey.
OUTLOOK: With four starters returning from last season and victories this season against Boston College and Princeton, the Crusaders could end the Patriot League's winless (0-11) NCAA history. Four starters, led by 6-foot-10, 255-pound Whearty, average 10-12 points per game. Lost to Kansas in regular season by 24. First to win three straight Patriot titles.
No. 15 WAGNER (21-10)
NCAA HISTORY: First appearance.
COACH: Dereck Whittenburg (1st NCAA).
STARTERS: F Jermaine Hall, C Nigel Wyatte, G Courtney Pritchard, G Teoine Carroll, G Dedrick Dye.
OUTLOOK: Whittenburg, a starter on N.C. State's 1983 title squad, says his Northeast champs aim to make the Sweet 16. Difficult to imagine for a team that lost to Long Island, Delaware State, Maryland and Connecticut. All starters average at least nine points, led by conference player of year Hall's 21. Seahawks have no depth.
No. 16 IUPUI (20-13)
NCAA HISTORY: First appearance.
COACH: Ron Hunter (1st NCAA).
STARTERS: F Josh Murray, F Chris Sanders, F Odell Bradley, G Matt Crenshaw, G Josh Mullins.
OUTLOOK: Crenshaw, a Navy veteran and Division I's oldest player at 27, hit buzzer-beating shot to defeat regular-season champion Valparaiso 66-64 in Mid-Continent tournament final. Four players average between 11 and 15 points. IUPUI, short for Indiana-Purdue at Indianapolis, endured 40-plus point defeats to Notre Dame and Creighton.
NCAA Midwest Region capsules
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