An alphabet soup for the NCAA An A-to-Z look at the tournament


'Tis the day before the NCAA tournament and all through the land

Folks are wondering on whom to lay a buck, fiver or grand.

So, in the interest of assisting your postseason glee

Here's a look at the field from A to Z:

A is for the All-Name team, which includes Kentucky's Aminu Timberlake, Evansville's Sascha Hupmann and Chaka Chandler, Delaware's Spencer Dunkley and Louisville's Brian Hopgood.

B is for Banned from these spaces, like the phrases "March Madness," "on the bubble" and "The Big Dance."

C is for Cat, the most popular animal in the tournament, with Cougars (Brigham Young and Houston), Panthers (Eastern Illinois), Bearcats (Cincinnati), Wildcats (Arizona and Kentucky) and Tigers (Louisiana State, Memphis State, Princeton and Missouri).

D is for Delta Devils, the nickname of Mississippi Valley State, and the other devils in the tourney.

E is for Evansville's Parrish Casebier, the best player in the field you've never heard of. Casebier, a 6-foot-3 sophomore forward, averages 26.2 points and 9.6 rebounds.

F is for First-time appearances, which are being made by Tulane, Campbell, Delaware and Eastern Illinois. Welcome aboard.

G is for Gripe, which Duke and Kansas don't have. Each of these top seeds has only two other ranked teams in its half of its regional bracket. Maybe this should have been "C" for Cakewalk.

H is for Horsemen, Howard University's bench.

I is for Iowa State, which had a 5-9 mark in Big Eight play and on the road, lost six of its last eight games and eight of its last 11, and still made the field.

J is for Jacksonville, which lost to UCLA in the championship game in College Park 22 years ago, and has been back to the tournament three times since.

K is for Kansas City, the Midwest Regional site, which has been host to more tournament games (83) than any other city.

L is for Left out of this year's tourney. Notre Dame, Virginia and Villanova missed invitations, and probably rightfully so. Also missing are Wisconsin-Green Bay (25-4), Ball State (24-8), and Manhattan (23-8). And UNLV.

M is for Minefield, which the upper bracket of the Southeast Regional is. How would you like to have to wade through Ohio State, North Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Connecticut and Stanford?

N is for Near bedlam, which would be the condition of Lexington, Ky., if Oklahoma State clears the Southeast sub-regional in Atlanta. Then, OSU coach Eddie Sutton would return to Rupp Arena for the first time in three years.

O is for One, the number of wins North Carolina coach Dean Smith needs to supplant UCLA's John Wooden for most career tournament victories (47).

P is for Pointer Williams, one of the leaders of the Posse, Tulane's bench, which averages 35 points. The Posse is one of the major factors behind the Green Wave's rise, just two years after the program was restarted following following after a four-year shutdown because of a point-shaving scandal.

Q is for Quick, which should describe the stay of these traditional powers: Syracuse (loser to Princeton), St. John's (loser to Tulane), Georgia Tech (loser to Houston), North Carolina (second-round loser to Alabama), UCLA (second-round loser to Wake Forest) and Indiana (second-round loser to LSU).

R is for Roy Kramer, the chairman of the tournament selection committee, which did one of its better jobs.

S is for Surprisingly high, which is the level of respect accorded Southern Cal (No. 2 Midwest seed), Massachusetts (No. 3 East), Oklahoma (No. 4 West) and Cincinnati (No. 4 Midwest).

T is for The Final Four: Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Florida State.

U is for Underclassmen likely making their last tournament appearances: Ohio State's Jim Jackson, Southern Cal's Harold Miner and LSU's Shaquille O'Neal. All of them are juniors. All of them likely will be NBA lottery picks. All of them will be very rich, very soon.

V is for Very soon, which is how long it will be before Maryland returns to the tournament, if reports on its recruiting class are correct.

W is for When will the NCAA wake up and get rid of 11:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. tip-offs? Probably when it gives back some of that $143 million that CBS pays to set those times, which is N for Never.

X is for Xavier. It's not in the field, but there really wasn't anything else that would go in this space.

Y is for Yale, which is marking the 30th anniversary of its last trip to the tournament. It didn't get in this year, either.

Z is for Zulauf. As in Jon. As in a junior reserve for Michigan State who is one of the few who satisfies this letter.

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