(At Albany, N.Y.)

2. Massachusetts (26-4)

Coach: John Calipari.

Tourney fact: Making fourth straight appearance but has not advanced beyond Sweet 16, losing to Maryland in second round last year.

Key players: rr Senior forward Lou Roe, the Atlantic 10 regular-season and tourney MVP, averages 17.0 points and 8.2 rebounds. Sophomore center Marcus Camby was among nation's leaders with 85 blocks.

Comment: Minutemen won Atlantic 10 regular-season and tourney titles for fourth straight year.

3. Villanova (25-7)

Coach: Steve Lappas.

Tourney fact: The Wildcats return to the NCAAs for the first time since 1991; won the NIT last season.

Key player: Kerry Kittles, the 6-5 junior guard, is the Big East Player of the Year. He averages 21.4 points and makes 52.7 percent of his shots.

Comment: Won Big East tourney for first time. Best chance for a long NCAA run since their '85 title.

6. Tulsa (22-7)

Coach: Orlando "Tubby" Smith.

Tourney fact: Golden Hurricane beat UCLA and Oklahoma State last season to reach round of 16.

Key players: Shea Seals, a 6-5 guard, is the scoring threat; 5-11 Alvin "Pooh" Williamson runs the show.

Comment: Tourney-tough Tulsa played a difficult schedule.

7. UNC-Charlotte (19-8)

Coach: Jeff Mullins.

Tourney fact: This is 49ers' fourth NCAA appearance, including a Final Four showing in 1977.

Key player: Jarvis Lang, 6-7 senior forward, is the heart and soul of the 49ers, averaging 16.2 points and 8.7 rebounds.

Comment: Regular-season Metro champs out-rebounded opponents by 6.3 per game.

10. Stanford (19-8)

Coach: Mike Montgomery.

Tourney fact: Last won an NCAA game in 1942, when Stanford won the tournament.

Key player: Brevin Knight. Unheralded 5-10 point guard gives the Cardinal quickness it traditionally lacks.

Comment: Stanford has size and outside shooting to go with Knight, and will surprise anyone who underrates it.

11. Illinois (19-11)

Coach: Lou Henson.

Tourney fact: Henson takes the Illini to the NCAAs for the 12th time in 21 seasons at the school. Reached Final Four in '89.

Key players: Center Shelly Clark, averaging 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds, and sophomore guard Kiwane Garris (15.7 points).

Comment: Illini's outside shooting has been inconsistent but can be dazzling. Three high-profile freshmen -- Jerry Gee, Bryant Notree and Kevin Turner -- have been erratic.

14. Old Dominion (20-11)

Coach: Jeff Capel.

Tourney fact: Capel, father of the Duke guard with the same name, took North Carolina A&T; to the NCAAs last year.

Key player: Petey Sessoms, a 6-7 senior averaging 21.9 points and 8.5 rebounds, was the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and tournament MVP.

Comment: Aside from North Carolina and Virginia, Monarchs haven't played high-quality opponent.

15. St. Peter's (19-10)

Coach: Ted Fiore.

Tourney fact: Second NCAA trip; lost in '91.

Key players: Power forward Luis Arrosa averages 15.4 points and 7.6 rebounds. Mike Frensley is only 5-10, wears double-zero on his jersey and a ponytail; but is tough in crunch time.

Comment: Took down heavily favored Manhattan in Metro Atlantic tourney final.

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