OUTLOOK: The most talented team in a watered-down Big Ten. Cook, a horse inside, leads the league in scoring, and Harrington leads in 3-point percentage. Illini defeated Missouri, won at Michigan and Minnesota and rank second nationally in field-goal percentage defense. PG Brown and Augustine are freshmen.

No. 5 NOTRE DAME (22-9)

NCAA HISTORY: 27th appearance, third straight. Final Four in 1978. Lost to Duke last year in second round.
COACH: Mike Brey (2-4 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Dan Miller, F Jordan Cornette, C Torin Francis, G Chris Thomas, G Matt Carroll.
OUTLOOK: No team can match the Irish's early December, when they defeated Marquette, Maryland and Texas. Notre Dame shoots well from the free-throw line and beyond the arc, but Thomas too often plays out of control. Team defense and interior offense suspect, weaknesses that showed in a first-round Big East loss to St. John's.

No. 6 CREIGHTON (29-4)

NCAA HISTORY: 14th appearance, fifth straight. Regional runner-up in 1941. Upset Florida in first round last year before losing to Illinois.
COACH: Dana Altman (2-5 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Kyle Korver, F Brody Deren, F Mike Lindeman, G Tyler McKinney, G Larry House.
OUTLOOK: Beware the Bluejays. They lead nation in field-goal percentage and force more than 18 turnovers per game. They're 10 deep but lean on 6-foot-7 Korver, a versatile All-American who scores from anywhere, rebounds and defends. Creighton defeated Notre Dame and BYU and won the Missouri Valley tournament.

No. 7 MEMPHIS (23-6)

NCAA HISTORY: 17th appearance, first since 1996. Final Four in 1985.
COACH: John Calipari (11-5 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Chris Massie, F John Grice, C Earl Barron, G Antonio Burks, G Anthony Rice.
OUTLOOK: Tigers used last season's NIT championship as a stepping stone and are capable of a deep NCAA run. Nine players have started at least six games, and eight average more than eight points. Led by 6-foot-8, 262-pound Massie, Memphis pounds opponents on glass. Defeated Syracuse, Illinois and won at Louisville.

No. 8 CINCINNATI (17-11)

NCAA HISTORY: 22nd appearance, 12th straight. Six Final Fours, most recent in 1992. Titles in 1961 and '62. Lost to UCLA last year in second round.
COACH: Bob Huggins (18-12 in NCAA).
STARTERS: F Jason Maxiell, F Leonard Stokes, C Kareem Johnson, G Field Williams, G Taron Barker.