1. North Carolina

Record: 24-6.

Location, conference: Chapel Hill, N.C.; Atlantic Coast Conference.

Conference finish: Tied for second in the ACC; won conference tournament.

NCAA tournament record: 68-30.

Coach: Dean Smith (36th season, 875-253).

Starters: G Shammond Williams, 6-2, Jr., 13.5 ppg, 4.3 apg; G Ed Cota, 6-1, Fr., 7.9 ppg, 6.8 apg; F Ademola Okulaja, 6-9, So., 8.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg; F Vince Carter, 6-6, So., 13.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg; F Antawn Jamison, 6-9, So., 19.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, C Serge Zwikker, 7-3, Sr., 11.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg.

Scouting report: The Tar Heels have won 12 straight, including their 14th ACC tournament championship. North Carolina ranks third in the nation in rebounding and grabs 10 more rebounds a game than its opponents.

2. South Carolina

Record: 24-7.

Location, conference: Columbia, S.C.; Southeastern Conference East Division.

Conference finish: First in SEC East Division.

NCAA tournament record: 4-6.

Coach: Eddie Fogler (fourth season, 62-55)

Starters: F William Gallman, 6-7, So., 8.5 ppg., 6.5 rpg; F Ryan Stack, 6-11, Jr., 6.0 ppg., 4.1 rpg.; G B.J. McKie, 6-2, So., 17.4 ppg., 3.9 rpg; G Larry Davis, 6-3, Sr., 16.5 ppg., 4.1 rpg.; G Melvin Watson, 6-1, Jr., 10.9 ppg., 4.7 rpg.

Scouting report: The Gamecocks have not won more than one game in their five tournament appearances, but that's not likely to happen this time. The three-guard offense of McKie, Davis and Watson can do it all.

3. New Mexico

Record: 24-7.

Location, conference: Albuquerque, N.M.; Western Athletic Conference.

Conference finish: Third in Mountain Division.

NCAA tournament record: 3-8.

Coach: Dave Bliss (ninth season, 196-90).

Starters: F Clayton Shields, 6-8, Jr., 16.1 ppg., 5.5 rpg. C Kenny Thomas, 6-8, So., 14.1 ppg., 7.1 rpg. G Lamont Long, 6-4, Fr., 7.9 ppg., 4.1 rpg. G Charles Smith, 6-4, Sr., 18.5 ppg., 5.6 rpg. G David Gibson, 6-2, Jr., 7.8 ppg., 2.3 rpg.

Scouting report: The Lobos, who finished third in the WAC Mountain Division behind Utah and Tulsa, are 22-2 in their past 24 nonconference games.

4. Villanova

Record: 23-9.

Location, conference: Villanova, Pa.; Big East.

Conference finish: Tied for first in Big East 6 division.

NCAA tournament record: 36-23.

Coach: Steve Lappas (fifth season, 102-55).

Starters: F Chuck Kornegay, 6-6, Sr., 7.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg; F Tim Thomas, 6-9, Fr., 16.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg; C Jason Lawson, 6-11, Sr., 18.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg; G Alvin Williams, 6-5, Sr., 16.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg; G John Celestand, 6-3, So., 7.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg.

Scouting report: The No. 21 Wildcats have followed Williams (52 percent shooting, 20.3 ppg past five regular-season games) and Thomas, likely the Big East Rookie of the Year, into the postseason.

5. California

Record: 21-8.

Location, conference: Berkeley, Calif.; Pacific-10.

Conference finish: Fifth.

NCAA tournament record: 14-9.

Coach: Ben Brown (first season).

Starters: F Alfred Grigsby, 6-9, Sr., 6.5 ppg., 5.4 rpg; F Tony Gonzalez, 6-6, Jr., 5.0 ppg., 4.3 rpg.; C Michael Stewart, 6-10, Sr., 6.4 ppg., 4.8 rpg.; G Randy Duck, 6-2, Sr., 11.6 ppg., 3.2 rpg.; G Prentice McGruder, 6-3, Sr., 5.3 ppg., 2.3 rpg.

Scouting report: With leading scorer Ed Gray (24.1 ppg.) out for the season with a broken foot, the Golden Bears turned to their defense to put together their fourth 20-win season in the 1990s.

6. Louisville

Record: 23-8.

Location, conference: Louisville, Ky.; Conference USA.

Conference finish: Third in White division.

NCAA tournament record: 45-28.

Coach: Denny Crum (26th season, 610-232).

Starters: F Nate Johnson, 6-6, Sr., 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg; F Damion Dantzler, 6-7, Jr., 7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg; C Alex Sanders, 6-7, So., 9.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg; G Alvin Sims, 6-4, Sr., 11.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg; DeJuan Wheat, 6-0, Sr., 17.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg.

Scouting report: The Cardinals are struggling, having lost six of their past 11. Three of their victories in that span were by a total of six points. Louisville has been tough against Top 25 teams, however, going 7-1 in those games.

7. Wisconsin

Record: 18-9.

Location, conference: Madison, Wis.; Big Ten.

Conference finish: Tied for fourth.

NCAA tournament record: 5-2.

Coach: Dick Bennett (second season, 35-24).

Starters: G Ty Calderwood, 6-0, Jr., 8.2 ppg, 3.8 apg; G David Burkemper, 6-1, Jr., 0.8 ppg, 1.0 apg; F Sean Dougherty, 6-10, Jr., 9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg; F Sam Okey, 6-7, So., 10.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg; C Paul Grant, 12.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg.

Scouting report: The Badgers made their tournament run in February, putting together their first six-game winning streak in Big Ten play in 46 years. During that stretch, Wisconsin held four of its six opponents under 50 points.

8. Indiana

Record: 22-10.

Location, conference: Bloomington, Ind.; Big Ten.

Conference finish: Tied for fifth.

NCAA tournament record: 50-20.

Coach: Bob Knight (26th season, 598-207).

Starters: F Richard Mandeville, 7-0, Jr., 3.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg; F Haris Mujezinovic, 6-9, Sr., 3.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg; C Jason Collier, 7-0, Fr., 9.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg; G Neil Reed, 6-2, Jr., 12.6 ppg, 2.3 apg; G A. J. Guyton, 6-1, Fr., 13.8 ppg, 4.1 apg.

Scouting report: The Hoosiers have won four of their past seven behind Guyton, who has averaged 22 points, four rebounds and four assists in that stretch.

9. Colorado

Record: 21-9.

Location, conference: Boulder, Colo.; Big 12.

Conference finish: Tied for second in North Division.

NCAA tournament record: 8-10.

Coach: Ricardo Patton (second season, 25-18).

Starters: F Martice Moore, 6-7, Sr., 10.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg; Fred Edmonds, 6-5, Sr., 12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg; F Ronnie DeGray, 6-6, Jr., 7.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg; G Chauncey Billups, 6-3, So., 19.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg; G Will Smith, 6-6, Fr., 4.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg.

Scouting report: The Buffaloes were one of the surprise teams in the Big 12, cracking the Top 25 rankings for the first time in 28 years. They appear to be stumbling into the tournament, however. Colorado has lost six of its past 12.

10. Texas

Record: 16-11.

Location, conference: Austin, Texas; Big 12.

Conference finish: First in South Division.

NCAA tournament record: 14-18.

Coach: Tom Penders (ninth season, 192-92).

Starters: F Nnadubem "Gabe" Muoneke, 6-7, Fr., 5.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg; F Kris Clack, 6-5, So., 12.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg; C Dennis Jordan, 6-9, Sr., 6.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg; G Reggie Freeman, 6-6, Sr., 21.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg; G DeJuan Vazquez, 6-4, So., 4.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg.

Scouting report: The Longhorns have lost six of their past 11 games. Freeman broke out of a four-game shooting slump (14-for-66) with 24 points on 8-for-18 shooting at Colorado in the regular-season finale.

11. Massachusetts

Record: 19-13.

Location, conference: Amherst, Mass.; Atlantic 10

Conference finish: Third in East Division.

NCAA tournament record: 11-6.

Coach: James "Bruiser" Flint (first season).

Starters: F Tyrone Weeks, 6-7, Sr., 12.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg; F Charlton Clarke, 6-3, So., 10.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg; C Lari Ketner, 6-10, So., 10.7, 5.3 rpg; G Edgar Padilla, 6-2, Sr., 8.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg; G Carmelo Travieso, 6-2, Sr., 14.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg.

Scouting report: Having the seventh-toughest schedule in the nation, and a big win over Maryland helped get the Minutemen in.

12. Princeton

Record: 24-3.

Location, conference: Princeton, N.J.; Ivy League.

Conference finish: First.

NCAA tournament record: 11-22.

Coach: Bill Carmody (first season).

Starters: F Gabe Lewullis, 6-6, So., 11.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg; F Sydney Johnson, 6-4, Sr., 9.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg; C Steve Goodrich, 6-8, Jr., 10.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg; G Mitch Henderson, 6-2, Jr., 8.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg; G Brian Earl, 6-2, So., 11.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg.

Scouting report: The Tigers have a history of close calls in the tournament against heavy favorites, including last season's 43-41 upset of defending national champion UCLA. Carmody, who took over for Pete Carril, has maintained the traditional Princeton style: patience on offense and stingy defense.

13. Long Island

Record: 21-8.

Location, conference: Brooklyn, N.Y.; Northeast Conference.

Conference finish: Won regular-season and conference tournament titles.

NCAA record: 1-17.

Coach: Ray Haskins (second season, 30-27).

Starters: F Mike Campbell, 6-6, Jr., 18.6 ppg., 7.8 rpg.; F Matt Picnic, 6-7, Jr., 6.6 ppg., 2.6 rpg.; G Richie Parker, 6-5, Fr., 16.0 ppg., 7.4 ppg.; G Charles Jones, 6-3, Jr., 30.2 ppg., 5.8 rpg; G Dave Masciale, 5-10, Sr., 11.4 ppg., 3.5 rpg.

Scouting report: The Blackbirds have the highest-scoring team in the nation with Jones as the nation's leading scorer.

14. Old Dominion

Record: 22-10.

Location, conference: Norfolk, Va.; Colonial Athletic Association.

Conference finish: CAA tournament champion.

NCAA tournament record: 2-6.

Coach: Jeff Capel (third season, 61-35).

Starters: F Odell Hodge, 6-9, Sr., 18.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg; G Mike Byers, 6-2, So., 11.7 ppg, 3.4 apg; F Mark Poag, 6-6, So., 11.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg; C Reggie Basette, 6-9, So., 4.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg; G Brion Dunlap, 5-11, Jr., 5.8 ppg, 5.8 apg.

Scouting report: The Monarchs have allowed an average of 60 points in their past six games.

15. Coppin State

Record: 21-8.

Location, conference: Baltimore; Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Conference finish: First in regular season, won conference tournament.

NCAA tournament record: 0-2.

Coach: Fang Mitchell (12th year, 206-119)

Starters: C Terquin Mott, 6-8, Sr., 14.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg; F Reggie Welch, 6-6, Sr., 14.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg; F Jerel Seamon, 6-3, So., 4.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg; G Antoine Brockington, 6-2, Jr., 16.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg; G Troy Lewis, 5-11, Fr., 2.6 ppg, 0.9 rpg.

Scouting report: After a roller-coaster season filled with suspensions, lineup changes and late-game deficits, the Eagles enter the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993, having won 17 of their past 19 games.

16. Fairfield

Record: 11-18.

Location, conference: Fairfield, Conn.; Metro Atlantic Athletic.

Conference finish: Won conference tournament.

NCAA tournament record: 0-2.

Coach: Paul Cormier (fifth season, 64-95).

Starters: F John Tice, Fr., 6-4, 8.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg; F Shannon Bowman, Sr., 6-4, 9.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg; C Darren Phillip, Fr., 6-6, 5.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg; G Greg Francis, Sr., 6-3, 14.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg; G Kyle Commodore, So., 5-11, 5.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg.

Scouting report: Cinderella Stags prove why they actually play the games. Regarded as the weakest team in the field, Fairfield draws No. 1 seed North Carolina.

Pub Date: 3/10/97

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