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MIDWEST REGIONAL

The Baltimore Sun

1. FLORIDA

LOCATION -- Gainesville, Fla.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Southeastern Conference tournament.

RECORD -- 29-5.

RPI -- 6.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 8-3.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Corey Brewer (6-9 junior, 12.7 pts., 4.5 reb., 1.7 steals); G Taurean Green (6-0 junior, 13.1 pts., 3.3 assists, 40.7 three-point pct., 86.9 FT pct.); F-C Al Horford (6-10 junior, 13.2 pts., 9.1 reb., 1.7 blocks, 60.8 FG pct.).

THE BUZZ -- When the Gators are clicking, they're one of the two or three best teams in the nation. Horford and C/F Joakim Noah are good defenders in the paint, and Noah's emotion sparks the team. But when Green, who can be extremely sloppy with the ball, and senior G Lee Humphrey aren't hitting three-pointers, the offense can bog down. Brewer is a lockdown defender and is the team's only slasher on offense.

2. WISCONSIN

LOCATION -- Madison, Wis.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Big Ten

RECORD -- 29-5.

RPI -- 4.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 9-4.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Kammron Taylor (6-2 senior, 12.6 pts., 40.3 three-point pct.); F Alando Tucker (6-6 senior, 20.2 pts., 5.3 reb.).

THE BUZZ -- The Badgers are as well-coached as any team in the field, and Tucker is a legitimate All-American. But other than him, this is not a team overflowing with talent or, frankly, athleticism. The Badgers are efficient on offense, take care of the ball, play good defense (they've allowed more than 70 points just three times), avoid fouling (the Badgers have made more free throws than their foes have attempted) and rebound well. But their best big man, 6-11 junior Brian Butch, may not be able to play in the tournament because of an elbow injury.

3. OREGON

LOCATION -- Eugene, Ore.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Pacific-10 tournament.

RECORD -- 26-7.

RPI -- 21.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 8-5.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Aaron Brooks (6-0 senior, 17.6 pts., 4.6 reb., 4.4 assists, 40.7 three-point pct., 82.9 FT pct.); F Maarty Leunen (6-9 junior, 10.8 pts., 8.5 reb., 40.4 three-point pct.); G Bryce Taylor (6-5 junior, 14.8 pts., 4.7 reb., 52.2 FG pct., 42.0 three-point pct., 83.5 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Ducks stumbled a bit in February but remain dangerous because of a solid backcourt and a good group of athletes. Brooks has played at a high level all season. But there is no real low-post threat on either end, and if the three-pointers aren't falling, the Ducks struggle to score.

4. MARYLAND

LOCATION -- College Park

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Atlantic Coast Conference

RECORD -- 24-8.

RPI -- 16.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 8-5.

KEY PLAYERS -- F James Gist (6-8 junior, 12.7 pts., 7.2 reb., 2.1 blocks, 53.9 FG pct.); G D.J. Strawberry (6-5 senior, 15.2 pts., 4.3 reb., 2.1 steals); G Greivis Vasquez (6-5 freshman, 9.9 pts., 4.6 assists, 81.8 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Terps caught fire in mid-February, going from a bubble team to a team that went into its league tournament hoping for a No. 3 or 4 seed. They want a fast pace and have a nice inside-outside balance. Vasquez has been steady at the point, and a long NCAA run depends on him remaining so; he's one of three Terps with at least 100 assists. Maryland's athleticism is put to good use defensively, but the Terps can be out-muscled on the boards.

5. BUTLER

LOCATION -- Indianapolis.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Horizon League

RECORD -- 27-6.

RPI -- 27.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 6-3.

KEY PLAYERS -- G A.J. Graves (6-1 junior, 17.0 pts., 1.5 steals, 95.8 FT pct.); G Mike Green (6-1 junior, 14.1 pts., 5.8 reb., 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals); F Pete Campbell (6-7 sophomore, 8.9 pts., 51.4 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Bulldogs are gritty, well-coached and fundamentally sound. In other words, they're not big, they lack athleticism and they must hit their three-pointers if they're to win. Butler plays solid defense, but a team with a lot of athletes is going to cause all sorts of problems. Graves is a good one and can pop it from long range.

6. NOTRE DAME

LOCATION -- South Bend, Ind.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Big East

RECORD -- 24-7.

RPI -- 31.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 4-4.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Russell Carter (6-4 senior, 17.2 pts., 4.9 reb., 40.6 three-point pct.); G Colin Falls (6-5 senior, 15.4 pts., 40.4 three-point pct., 84.2 FT pct.); F Rob Kurz (6-9 junior, 12.6 pts., 7.9 reb., 1.5 blocks, 80.7 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Carter-Falls duo has been lethal at times to Irish opponents. Notre Dame shoots threes well, passes well, rebounds well and plays solid defense. But when the pace is slowed, the Irish struggle. Five of their losses came when they scored less than 70 points.

7. NEVADA-LAS VEGAS

LOCATION -- Las Vegas.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Mountain West tournament.

RECORD -- 28-6.

RPI -- 10.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 5-2.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Wink Adams (6-0 sophomore, 14.3 pts.); G Kevin Kruger (6-2 senior, 13.6 pts., 5.0 assists, 84.0 FT pct.); F Wendell White (6-6 senior, 14.2 pts., 6.2 reb.).

THE BUZZ -- Kruger, the son of coach Lon Kruger, has been a steadying influence at the point. White is a solid all-around player. UNLV is athletic and has good depth, and backup big man Joel Anthony is a big-time shot-blocker (3.1 per game). UNLV does a lot of things well but nothing exceptionally.

8. ARIZONA

LOCATION -- Tucson, Ariz.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Pacific-10

RECORD -- 20-10.

RPI -- 14.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 8-10.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Chase Budinger (6-7 freshman, 15.6 pts., 5.8 reb., 84.4 FT pct.); G Mustafa Shakur (6-3 senior, 12.0 pts., 4.0 reb., 6.9 assists); F Marcus Williams (6-7 sophomore, 16.8 pts., 6.9 reb.).

THE BUZZ -- The Wildcats are athletic and have some big-time talent, notably Williams and Budinger. As a whole, though, the team suffers mental lapses, is prone to bad shots and turnovers and doesn't always play good defense. Shakur never has lived up to billing; maybe this is his time.

BOTTOM 8 SEEDS

9. PURDUE

LOCATION -- West Lafayette, Ind.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Big Ten

RECORD -- 21-11.

RPI -- 42.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 5-7.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Carl Landry (6-7 senior, 18.9 pts., 7.1 reb., 59.8 FG pct.); G David Teague (6-5 senior, 14.3 pts., 5.1 reb., 42.9 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Boilermakers have relied on Landry and a solid defense. They have only two double-figure scorers and no one has more than 71 assists. Purdue is good from three-point range and forces more than 16 turnovers per game. If Landry struggles, Purdue gets nothing from its frontcourt.

10. GEORGIA TECH

LOCATION -- Atlanta.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from ACC

RECORD -- 20-11.

RPI -- 52.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 6-7.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Javaris Crittenton (6-5 freshman, 14.6 pts., 5.7 assists, 2.0 steals); F Thaddeus Young (6-8 freshman, 14.6 pts., 4.9 reb., 41.9 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- Tech has been inconsistent, not surprising when you consider its best players are freshmen. The Yellow Jackets are at their best when they get in a run-and-gun game; conversely, they struggle at times in the half-court set. Crittenton is a gifted passer, but he turns it over a lot. A frontcourt-by-committee approach has helped Tech pound foes on the boards.

11. WINTHROP

LOCATION -- Rock Hill, S.C.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Big South tournament

RECORD -- 28-4.

RPI -- 70.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 1-4.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Michael Jenkins (6-3 junior, 15.3 pts., 42.6 three-point FG pct.); G Torrell Martin (6-5 senior, 14.2 pts., 5.2 reb., 51.1 FG pct.), C Craig Bradshaw (6-10 senior, 13.3 pts., 6.3 reb., 1.1 blocks).

THE BUZZ -- Believe the hype: The Eagles are dangerous. This is an experienced group, and more athletic than most teams of their ilk. Point guard Chris Gaynor isn't a scorer but has a better than 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Still, they're not overly big (they're out-rebounded, on average), and they can be hurt in the low post.

12. OLD DOMINION

LOCATION -- Norfolk, Va.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Colonial Athletic Association

RECORD -- 24-8.

RPI -- 40.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 2-3.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Valdas Vasylius (6-7 senior, 15.8 pts., 6.2 reb.); G Drew Williamson (6-0 senior, 11.3 pts., 4.5 assists, 2.3 steals).

THE BUZZ -- The Monarchs aren't particularly proficient offensively, shooting only 43.4 percent from the field. But they play solid defense, hit the boards and run when the opportunity presents itself. Old Dominion allowed at least 74 points only five times - and it lost four of those.

13. DAVIDSON

LOCATION -- Davidson, N.C.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Southern tournament

RECORD -- 29-4.

RPI -- 48.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 1-1.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Stephen Curry (6-1 freshman, 21.2 pts., 4.6 reb., 41.1 three-point FG pct., 84.8 FT pct.); C-F Boris Meno (6-8 junior, 11.0 pts., 8.1 reb., 1.1 blocks); G Jason Richards (6-2 junior, 13.6 pts., 7.3 assists, 81.4 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Wildcats come in with a 13-game winning streak. This is a smart, well-coached, fundamentally sound team, and Curry can play. They have a plus-7.3 rebound margin, have good height and prefer a fast pace. But their big men are foul-prone, and if their opponent is strong in the low post, the Wildcats could struggle.

14. MIAMI (OHIO)

LOCATION -- Oxford, Ohio.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Mid-American tournament

RECORD -- 18-14.

RPI -- 92.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 1-4.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Nathan Peavy (6-8 senior, 14.5 pts., 6.3 reb., 1.1 blocks, 54.1 FG pct.); F Tim Pollitz (6-6 junior, 15.8 pts., 5.7 reb., 56.8 FG pct.)

THE BUZZ -- The RedHawks want a slow pace (they average 59.8 points per game), and their offense goes through Peavy and Pollitz. The backcourt isn't much, and they lack athleticism. When Jan. 1 rolled around, Miami was 4-8.

15. TEXAS A&M-CORPUS; CHRISTI

LOCATION -- Corpus Christi, Texas.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Southland tournament

RECORD -- 26-6.

RPI -- 81.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 0-2.

KEY PLAYERS -- C Chris Daniels (7-0 senior, 15.0 pts., 6.7 reb., 1.5 blocks, 58.6 FG pct.); G Josh Washington (6-3 senior, 12.8 pts., 47.0 three-point FG pct., 88.9 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- Daniels is a legit NBA prospect, and he will do some damage if the Islanders' foe doesn't play good low-post defense. Washington is a bombs-away outside threat, and if Daniels is productive, Washington is going to get some wide-open looks. The Islanders also have two players with more than 100 assists. That said, the team's defense was shredded when it played "big-league" opponents in the regular season.

16. JACKSON STATE

LOCATION -- Jackson, Miss.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Southwestern Athletic tournament

RECORD -- 21-13.

RPI -- 168.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 0-3.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Trey Johnson (6-5 senior, 27.1 pts., 4.5 reb.); F Grant Maxey (6-7 freshman, 8.2 pts., 5.5 reb., 1.0 blocks).

THE BUZZ -- Johnson, second in the nation in scoring, took more than a third of the Tigers' shots. Johnson is a talented offensive player and isn't afraid to fire away from outside; he also can put the ball on the floor and get into the lane. He's a good player, but he has no help.

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