Going to San Antonio: Arizona is on a mission to be the first repeat champion since Duke in 1991-92, and the Wildcats have no holes.
Team on the rise: Cincinnati. This is the best team Bob Huggins has had since 1993, when Nick Van Exel and company took eventual champion North Carolina to overtime in the East final. Their rotation took some time to form because of numerous suspensions for NCAA violations, they were unranked until January, but have won nine straight. Forward Ruben Patterson is one of the best stories in the tournament.
Team on the decline: Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 23-8, but they've dropped five of their last eight, including their last four road games, and Nolan Richardson hasn't been very complimentary toward some of his players.
Cinderella story: Once upon a time, San Francisco had a center named Bill Russell and NCAA titles in 1954-56. The program fell into disrepute in 1982, and the Jesuit institution said enough's enough and dropped the sport. It was reinstated in 1985-86, and this is the Dons' first trip back to the NCAAs, as they won the West Coast Conference.
Prime-time player: Take your pick of any of the big three stars at Arizona. Forward Michael Dickerson doesn't think he'll disappear like he did in the Final Four last year. Sophomore point guard Mike Bibby is sublime, but no one took center stage last year like senior guard Miles Simon did.
Most underrated player: How about Bennett Davison, the power forward from Arizona who gets lost in the hoopla over the better-known Wildcats?
Pub Date: 3/09/98