Tourney looks more like wild ride than a march


Mike Jarvis said recently that this year's NCAA tournament would go beyond the norm. More early-round upsets than usual, more chance for dark horses to be in contention when this month-long race heads down the homestretch to Seattle.

"If it was madness before, this year will be totally absurd," the George Washington coach said a few weeks ago.

It wasn't absurd that the Colonials didn't make the 64-team field, given their penchant for losing to teams with triple-digit power ratings. But it was absurd that the Atlantic Coast Conference didn't get five teams in, while the Big Ten got six.

What Jarvis was talking about had more to do with the chance of chaos reigning as much, if not more, this month than it did during a wild regular season. This was the season that began with defending champion and seemingly invincible Arkansas losing and a succession of pretenders to the No. 1 ranking doing the same.

"I don't think there are any so-called favorites," said Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, whose Huskies might have been one had they won the Big East tournament.

Here's how this year's tournament looks:

Easiest region

What a surprise, it's the West. Despite the obvious improvement in the Pac-10, and the inclusion of several Eastern and Midwestern teams in the region, this is the place to be if you're a good team with Final Four dreams.

Top seed UCLA likely will get by its opening-round draw this year, Florida International, but the Bruins won't go from Boise to men unless they can beat Indiana in the second round. In the other half of the bracket, second-seeded Connecticut has its own ghosts to exorcise after last year's debacle against Florida. There are three teams from California in the region. When was the last time a team from the land of mudslides and celebrity murder trials made news by sending one of its basketball teams to the Final Four?

Toughest region

Depending on the condition of Rasheed Wallace's ankle, the Southeast could be the toughest by a lot or just a good amount. It's not only the presence of the two top seeds, Kentucky and North Carolina, but also the depth from 3 to 13 with such solid teams as Arizona State, Michigan State, Iowa State and Oklahoma.

Teams with good guards usually do well in the NCAA tournament. There's Tony Delk of the Wildcats, Jeff McInnis and former Final Four MVP Donald Williams of the Tar Heels, national player of the year candidate Shawn Respert of Michigan State, Big East freshman of the year Allen Iverson of Georgetown and, of course, The Mayor, Fred Hoiberg of Iowa State.

Most likely first-round upsets

UCLA is off the list this year, but the Bruins' Pac-10 brethren from Arizona are back, especially if Damon Stoudamire and Ben Davis don't have their ineligibility reversed by the NCAA. Not only could the Wildcats be without their best player and one of their best inside players, but they also have to face Miami of Ohio in Dayton, Ohio.

It's also easy to pick Syracuse, given the Orangemen's history of NCAA cameos. Here's one more: Penn over Alabama at the Baltimore Arena. The Quakers already have shown they can beat good athletic teams that don't always show up.

Final Four dark horses

Don't expect to see North Carolina-Charlotte in the Final Four, as it was 18 years ago. Or Penn, which made it in 1979. But how about Indiana, with a bunch of talented freshmen to complement Alan Henderson and, like him or not, the best postseason coach in the tournament?

Maryland might have fit into this category, until the Terrapins were anointed last night by Dickie V. One more team not to count out: Georgetown. The Hoyas seem to be playing together, Iverson and once-forgotten

center Othella Harrington in particular. The Kingdome was where the Hoyas won it in 1984.

Final Four picks: Semifinals:

Wake Forest vs. Indiana, Arkansas vs. Kentucky.

Final: Wake Forest vs. Arkansas.

Champion: Wake Forest.


Conferences with at least two teams in the NCAA tournament:


Maryland; North Carolina; Virginia; Wake Forest


Massachusetts; Temple


Connecticut; Georgetown; Syracuse; Villanova


Iowa St.; Kansas; Missouri; Oklahoma; Oklahoma St.


Illinois; Indiana; Michigan; Michigan St.; Minnesota; Purdue


Cincinnati; Memphis; St. Louis


Manhattan; St. Peter's


Louisville; N.C.-Charlotte; Tulane


Ball St.; Miami, Ohio.


Wis.-Green Bay; Xavier, Ohio


Southern Illinois; Tulsa

PAC-10 (5)

Arizona; Arizona St.; Oregon; Stanford; UCLA


Alabama; Arkansas; Florida; Kentucky; Mississippi St.


Gonzaga; Santa Clara


Brigham Young; Utah


Teams that were considered on the bubble that did not receive bids to the NCAA tournament:

Charleston (23-5) George Wash. (18-13)

Georgia (18-9) Georgia Tech (18-12)

Iowa (19-11) New Mex. St. (23-9)

Ohio U. (23-9) Providence (16-12)

St. Joe's (17-11) Va. Tech (20-10)


UCLA 4-1

Kansas 5-1

Kentucky 5-1

Arkansas 6-1

Connecticut 6-1

North Carolina 6-1

Wake Forest 6-1

Massachusetts 8-1

Oklahoma St. 8-1

Arizona 10-1

Maryland 10-1

Michigan St. 10-1

Purdue 10-1

Villanova 10-1

Virginia 12-1

Alabama 15-1

Oklahoma 15-1

Arizona St. 18-1

Mississippi St. 18-1

Utah 18-1

Cincinnati 25-1

Georgetown 25-1

Syracuse 35-1

Florida 50-1

Indiana 50-1

Iowa St. 50-1

Louisville 50-1

Memphis 50-1

Michigan 50-1

Minnesota 50-1

Oregon 50-1

Saint Louis 50-1

Temple 50-1

Texas 50-1

Tulsa 50-1

N.C. Charlotte 75-1

Stanford 75-1

Tulane 75-1

W. Kentucky 75-1

Brigham Young 100-1

Illinois 100-1

Missouri 100-1

Pennsylvania 150-1

S. Illinois 150-1

Xavier 150-1

Miami, Ohio 250-1

Ball St. 500-1

Long Beach St. 500-1

Santa Clara 500-1

Gonzaga 1000-1

Manhattan 1000-1

Old Dominion 1000-1

Wis.-Green Bay 1000-1

Drexel 1500-1

Murray St. 2000-1

Nicholls St. 2000-1

Weber St. 2000-1

Colgate 5000-1

Tenn.-Chattanooga 5000-1

Texas Southern 5000-1

St. Peter's 5000-1

Florida Int'l. 8000-1

N. Carolina A&T; 8000-1

Mount St. Mary's 10000-1

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