CHICAGO REGIONAL

THE BALTIMORE SUN

1. Illinois

Location: Champaign, Ill.

Record: 32-1.

RPI: 1.

Record vs. tournament field: 13-0.

Road record: 8-1.

Record in past 10: 9-1.

Impressive victories: Dec. 1, Wake Forest, 91-73; Jan. 25, at Wisconsin, 75-65; Feb. 1, at Michigan State, 81-68.

Disturbing loss: March 6, at Ohio State, 65-64.

Top players: Sr. Luther Head, G, 15.9 ppg, 3.8 apg; Jr. Dee Brown, G, 13.8 ppg, 4.5 apg; Deron Williams, G, 12.3 ppg, 6.6 apg; Roger Powell, F, 12.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg.

Skinny: Anything less than a trip to the Final Four will leave a bitter taste for Illinois players and fans, who have basked in the team's record-setting season.

Graduation rates: 70 percent (athletes), 79 percent (all students).

Little-known fact: Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau was a member of Illinois' 1937 Big Ten basketball title team.

2. Oklahoma State

Location: Stillwater, Okla.

Record: 24-6.

RPI: 4.

Record vs. tournament field: 6-5.

Road record: 7-4.

Record in past 10: 7-3.

Impressive victories: Dec. 7, Syracuse, 74-60; Feb. 7, Oklahoma, 79-67; Feb. 19, Texas Tech, 85-56.

Disturbing losses: Feb. 22, at Nebraska, 74-67; March 5, Texas, 74-73.

Top players: Sr. Joey Graham, F, 18.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg; Sr. John Lucas, G, 18.0 ppg, 4.4 apg.

Skinny: Cowboys can play five seniors, a huge advantage in a tournament that often rewards maturity and experience. But they're undersized down low, where they depend on 6-foot-7 Graham and 6-8 Ivan McFarlin for rebounding.

Graduation rates: 42 percent , 54 percent.

Little-known fact: Graham has earned his degree in aviation management and has logged enough hours to have his pilot's license.

3. Arizona

Location: Tucson, Ariz.

Record: 27-6.

RPI: 9.

Record vs. tournament field: 6-4.

Road record: 8-3.

Record in past 10: 8-2.

Impressive victories: Dec. 5, Mississippi State, 68-64; Dec. 11, Utah, 67-62; Jan. 27, Washington., 91-82.

Disturbing losses: Nov. 21, at Virginia, 78-60; Jan. 8, at Stanford, 87-76; Jan. 29, Washington State, 70-63.

Top players: Sr. Salim Stoudamire, G, 18.4 ppg, 52.5 percent three-point FG; Sr. Channing Frye, C, 15.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg; Jr. Hassan Adams, F, 12.2 ppg.

Skinny: The Wildcats' fortunes rest on the shoulders of the mercurial Stoudamire, who can shoot the Wildcats out of a game just as quickly as he can win one.

Graduation rates: 56 percent, 55 percent.

Little-known fact: Every four-year scholarship player at Arizona who started school since the fall of 1990 has played in at least one Final Four except for this year's senior class.

4. Boston College

Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Record: 24-4.

RPI: 11.

Record vs. tournament field: 6-3.

Road record: 7-2.

Record in past 10: 6-4.

Impressive victories: Jan. 5, at UConn, 75-70; Jan. 19, Villanova, 67-66; Feb. 19, Syracuse, 65-60.

Disturbing losses: Feb. 8, at Notre Dame, 68-65; Feb. 28, Pittsburgh, 72-50; March 10, West Virginia, 78-72.

Top players: Jr. Craig Smith, F, 17.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg; So. Jared Dudley, F, 16.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg; Sr. Jermaine Watson, G, 9.8 ppg, 3.3 apg.

Skinny: Eagles have lost three of their past five games. Have solid low post player in Smith. Embarrassed by early exit from the Big East tournament, BC should have extra motivation.

Graduation rates: 81 percent, 87 percent.

Little-known fact: Eagles were 5-1 in games decided by four points or fewer.

5. Alabama

Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Record: 24-7.

RPI: 17.

Record vs. tournament field: 5-6.

Road record: 8-4.

Record in past 10: 7-3.

Impressive victories: Dec. 4, at Charlotte, 102-101; Jan. 8, LSU, 73-58; Jan. 18, Mississippi State, 98-49.

Disturbing loss: Jan. 5, at Vanderbilt, 70-56.

Top players: Jr. Kennedy Winston, F, 17.8 ppg, 44 percent three-point FG; Sr. Earnest Shelton, G, 16.4 ppg; Jr. Chuck Davis, F, 14.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg.

Skinny: The Tide has superb athletes and likes uptempo games. Winston is one of the most talented players in the nation and a matchup nightmare.

Graduation rates: 56 percent, 61 percent.

Little-known fact: Coach Mark Gottfried is one of 38 1,000-point career scorers at Alabama, and he coaches two others (Shelton and Winston).

6. LSU

Location: Baton Rouge, La.

Record: 20-9.

RPI: 26.

Record vs. tournament field: 5-5.

Road record: 4-6.

Record in past 10: 8-2.

Impressive victories: Feb. 16, at Mississippi State, 80-72; Feb. 19, Florida, 77-73; Feb. 22, Alabama, 61-59.

Disturbing losses: Dec. 18, Southern Miss, 88-84; Feb. 5, at Tennessee, 77-55.

Top players: So. Brandon Bass, F, 17.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg; Fr. Glen Davis, C, 13.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg; Jr. Darrel Mitchell, G, 13.5 ppg.

Skinny: The Tigers are all about their frontcourt, with Bass (the SEC's Player of the Year) and Davis two big-time low-post threats. The backcourt is nothing special, though the guards get a ton of open looks because defenses key on the big men.

Graduation rates: 55 percent, 55 percent.

Little-known fact: The school that became LSU opened Jan. 2, 1860, with Col. William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent. Sherman later was a general for the North in the Civil War.

7. Southern Illinois

Location: Carbondale, Ill.

Record: 26-7.

RPI: 14.

Record vs. tournament field: 4-3.

Road record: 8-6.

Record in past 10: 9-1.

Impressive victories: Nov. 26, Vanderbilt, 67-53, at Las Vegas; Nov. 27, UTEP, 68-62 at Las Vegas; Jan. 9, at Creighton, 69-63.

Disturbing losses: Nov. 30, at Hawaii, 66-64; Dec. 7, at Arkansas-Little Rock, 70-53; Jan. 26, at Southwest Missouri State, 93-77.

Top players: Sr. Darren Brooks, G, 15.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.3 assists, 2.4 steals; So. Jamaal Tatum, G, 12.1 ppg.

Skinny: The Salukis won their fourth straight Missouri Valley regular-season title but failed to win the conference tournament for the fourth straight year. Brooks has been the conference Player of the Year the past two seasons.

Graduation rates: 60 percent, 40 percent.

Little-known fact: Salukis coach Chris Lowery played point guard for SIU in the '90s and, at 32, is one of the youngest coaches in Division I.

8. Texas

Location: Austin, Texas.

Record: 20-10.

RPI: 50.

Record vs. tournament field: 3-6.

Road record: 5-6.

Record in past 10: 5-5.

Impressive victories: Jan. 17, Oklahoma State, 75-61; March 5, at Oklahoma State, 74-73.

Disturbing losses: Jan. 12, at Texas A&M;, 74-63; Feb. 8, at Colorado 88-79.

Top players: Fr. Daniel Gibson, G, 14.4 ppg, 4.0 apg; Jr. Brad Buckman, 12.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg; Sr. Jason Klotz, 10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg.

Skinny: Longhorns lost leading scorer P.J. Tucker to grades in January, then lost three straight midway through conference schedule. But they've won five of past seven, including at Oklahoma State, and have an impressive point guard in precocious Gibson.

Graduation rates: 57 percent, 70 percent.

Little-known fact: The last time the Longhorns were guided by a freshman point guard, T.J. Ford led them to the 2003 Final Four, where they lost to eventual champion Syracuse.

9. Nevada

Location: Reno, Nev.

Record: 24-6.

RPI: 37.

Record vs. tournament field: 2-3.

Road record: 11-2.

Record in past 10: 9-1.

Impressive victory: Feb. 12, at Texas-El Paso.

Disturbing loss: Dec. 7, at Toledo, 83-75; March 10, Boise State, 73-72.

Top players: So. Nick Fazekas, F, 21.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg; Sr. Kevinn Pinkney, F, 12.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg; Fr. Ramon Sessions, G, 9.1 ppg.

Skinny: The Wolf Pack swept Western Athletic Conference honors with Player of the Year Fazekas, Freshman of the Year Sessions and Coach of the Year Mark Fox.

Graduation rates: 47 percent, 48 percent.

Little-known fact: Nevada became the first WAC team since Utah in 1999 to go undefeated in conference play on the road at 9-0.

10. Saint Mary's

Location: Moraga, Calif.

Record: 25-8.

RPI: 28.

Record vs. tournament field: 1-3.

Road record: 9-4.

Record in past 10: 7-3.

Impressive victories: Nov. 12, at California, 61-52; Jan. 8, Gonzaga, 89-81; Jan. 11, Air Force, 59-58.

Disturbing losses: Nov. 27, Rutgers, 66-58; Jan. 15, Santa Clara, 65-42.

Top players: Sr. Paul Marigney, G, 17.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg; Jr. Daniel Kickert, F, 16.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 47.8 percent three-point FG; Sr. E.J. Rowland, G, 11.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.9 apg.

Skinny: Could be a tough out especially if Marigney's outside shot is on. At 6 feet 10, Kickert is a matchup problem with his size and ability to shoot from long distance.

Graduation rates: 67 percent, 68 percent.

Little-known fact: The Gaels have players on their roster from Australia, France, Brazil and Morocco.

11. Alabama-Birmingham

Location: Birmingham, Ala.

Record: 21-10.

RPI: 59.

Record vs. tournament field: 1-5.

Road record: 7-5.

Record in past 10: 5-5.

Impressive victories: Dec. 23, Oral Roberts, 84-77; March 2, DePaul, 81-80; March 10, DePaul, 59-56.

Disturbing losses: Jan. 19, at Tulane, 76-73; Jan. 15, at East Carolina, 67-64.

Top players: Sr., Donell Taylor, G, 15.7 ppg.; Jr., Demaro Eddins, F, 12.6; Sr., Ronell Taylor, G, 11.8 ppg.

Skinny: UAB plays full-court defense and likes to run. The Blazers reached the Sweet 16 last year, Conference USA's last team standing.

Graduation rates: 53 percent, 37 percent.

Little-known fact: Coach Mike Anderson was a Nolan Richardson assistant at Arkansas and Richardson visited the team's locker room at the Conference USA tournament in Memphis.

12. Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Location: Milwaukee.

Record: 24-5.

RPI: 56.

Record vs. tournament field: 0-2.

Road record: 11-3.

Record in past 10: 9-1.

Impressive victories: Nov. 28, Air Force 50-45; Dec. 4, at Illinois-Chicago 75-67; Dec. 7, at Saint Louis 57-47.

Disturbing loss: Jan. 3, Detroit 76-68.

Top players: Sr. Ed McCants, G, 17.4 ppg; Jr. Joah Tucker, G, 15.2 ppg.

Skinny: Panthers edged Detroit, 59-58, in a defensive battle to earn automatic NCAA bid. Opponents must take care of the ball against Milwaukee.

Graduation rates: 67 percent, 39 percent.

Little-known fact: Bruce Pearl's Horizon League record the past three years is 52-13. Panthers hold edge over every Horizon team.

13. Penn

Location: Philadelphia.

Record: 20-8.

RPI: 43.

Record vs. tournament field: 1-2.

Road record: 8-7.

Record in past 10: 9-1.

Impressive victories: Jan. 25, at Saint Joseph's, 67-59; Feb. 8, Princeton, 70-62; Feb. 25, at Cornell, 66-49.

Disturbing losses: Dec. 8, at Temple, 52-51; Feb. 19, at Yale, 78-60.

Top players: Sr. Tim Begley, G, 13.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.8 apg; So. Ibrahim Jaaber, G, 11.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.0 spg; So. Steve Danley, F, 9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg; So. Mark Zoller, G-F, 9.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg.

Skinny: Begley is the 13th Penn player to be named Ivy League Player of the Year. He set the school record for three pointers (248), second-most in Ivy history.

Graduation rates: N/A, 92 percent.

Little-known fact: Penn began playing basketball in the 1897-98 season.

14. Utah State

Location: Logan, Utah.

Record: 24-7.

RPI: 49.

Record vs. tournament field: 2-3.

Road record: 6-6.

Record in past 10: 8-2.

Impressive victories: Nov. 21, at Northwestern, 64-57; Dec. 4, Utah, 71-45; Dec. 18, at Brigham Young, 84-62.

Disturbing losses: Dec. 7, at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, 64-59; Dec. 23, at Idaho, 69-62.

Top players: Sr. Spencer Nelson, F, 16.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.8 apg; Fr. Jaycee Carroll, G, 14.6 ppg, 52.7 percent FG; 47.4 percent three-point FG; Jr. Nate Harris, F, 13.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 65.4 percent FG.

Skinny: The Aggies have one of the nation's most precise attacks, leading the nation in field-goal shooting for much of the season.

Graduation rates: 62 percent to 46 percent.

Little-known fact: Utah State was initially an agricultural college founded in 1888.

15. S'eastern Louisiana

Location: Hammond, La.

Record: 24-8.

RPI: 104.

Record vs. tournament field: 0-0.

Road record: 8-6.

Record in past 10: 8-2.

Impressive victory: March 5, at Sam Houston St., 58-55.

Disturbing loss: Feb. 12, McNeese St. 71-69.

Top players: Jr. Ricky Woods, F, 17.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg; Sr. Jonathan Patton, G, 11.8 ppg; Sr. Nate Lofton, G, 11.5 ppg, 7.2 apg.

Skinny: Established a new school record for wins in a season as it beat Northwestern State for the Southland bid.

Graduation rates: 53 percent, 22 percent.

Little-known fact: The official student sports booster club for the Lions is called the MANEiacs.

16. Fairleigh Dickinson

Location: Teaneck, N.J.

Record: 20-12.

RPI: 160.

Record vs. tournament field: 0-0.

Road record: 7-7.

Record in past 10: 7-3.

Impressive victories: None.

Disturbing loss: Nov. 17, Elon (N.C.), 73-59.

Top players: Sr. Tamien Trent, G, 15.8 ppg, 5.5 apg; jr. Gordon Klaiber, F, 15.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg; Jr. Chad Timberlake, G, 13.4 ppg.

Skinny: Only 20-win team in the Northeast Conference features sophomore Italian center Andrea Crosariol, one of the few 7-footers in the tournament.

Graduation rates: 51 percent, 46 percent.

Little-known fact: Gordon Klaiber's older brother, Antric, was a reserve on UConn's 1999 NCAA title team and played four minutes in a 1998 first-round game against FDU.

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