SOUTH REGIONAL

The Baltimore Sun

1. OHIO STATE

LOCATION -- Columbus, Ohio.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Big Ten tournament.

RECORD -- 30-3.

RPI -- 1.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 11-3.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Mike Conley Jr. (6-1 freshman, 10.2 pts.); G Daequan Cook (6-5 freshman, 10.9 pts., 4.8 reb., 43.8 three-point pct.); C Greg Oden (7-0 freshman, 15.7 pts., 9.6 reb., 3.5 blocks).

THE BUZZ -- The Buckeyes might be young - three freshmen start, and four play a lot - but they're also good. Oden still isn't 100 percent (wrist), but he's a force on both ends in the paint. Cook is the Buckeyes' super sub, and Conley is steady at the point. Ohio State probably is better defensively than offensively. The Buckeyes will have trouble with an athletic team that is able to run. But can anybody do that against them?

2. MEMPHIS

LOCATION -- Memphis, Tenn.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Conference USA tournament.

RECORD -- 30-3.

RPI -- 8.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 3-3.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Chris Douglas-Roberts (6-5 sophomore, 15.4 pts., 54.4 FG pct.); C Joey Dorsey (6-9 junior, 8.7 pts., 9.6 reb., 2.3 blocks, 62.7 FG pct.); G Jeremy Hunt (6-5 senior, 13.6 pts., 38.4 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- A gaudy record, for sure, but the Tigers weren't tested in Conference USA play. Can they handle the pressure? They have a ton of good athletes, but the foul-prone Dorsey is the only big body in the low post. Hunt, who has had a checkered past (he was "permanently" dismissed last season but allowed to return this season), is the key three-point threat. The Tigers are awful from the line (61.0 percent).

3. TEXAS A&M;

LOCATION -- College Station, Texas.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Big 12.

RECORD -- 25-6.

RPI -- 17.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 3-4.(KEY PLAYERS -- G-F Josh Carter (6-7 sophomore, 12.5 pts., 3.9 reb., 51.9 three-point pct., 80.6 FT pct.); C Joseph Jones (6-9 junior, 13.2 pts., 6.6 reb., 54.4 FG pct., 82.1 FT pct.); G Acie Law IV (6-3 senior, 18.2 pts., 5.3 assists, 51.6 FG pct., 46.1 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- Law is one of the nation's best players and lives to take the big shot. The Aggies are efficient offensively (50.1 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from three-point range), take care of the ball rebound well - and, oh, yeah - play in-your-face defense. Carter is a long-range bomber extraordinaire. But they only go seven-deep, and an off game from Law would be disastrous.

4. VIRGINIA

LOCATION -- Charlottesville, Va.

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

RECORD -- 20-10.

RPI -- 55.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 7-5.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Jason Cain (6-10 senior, 6.7 pts., 6.4 reb.); G J.R. Reynolds (6-2 senior, 17.8 pts., 4.0 reb., 3.9 assists, 82.7 FT pct.); G Sean Singletary (6-0 junior, 18.9 pts., 4.5 reb., 4.6 assists, 39.6 three-point pct., 88.1 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Cavaliers were a pleasant surprise this season, thanks to the excellent backcourt of Reynolds and Singletary. While the Cavs prefer a quick tempo, their guards can handle a slower pace. Despite a lack of size, Reynolds and Singletary are solid defensively, though a taller, physical guard can post them up. The Cavs have no frontcourt offense to speak of, and if Cain isn't on the court, rebounding becomes a big problem.

5. TENNESSEE

LOCATION -- Knoxville, Tenn.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Southeastern Conference.

RECORD -- 22-10.

RPI -- 12.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 6-6.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Wayne Chism (6-9 freshman, 9.0 pts., 5.4 reb.); G Chris Lofton (6-2 junior, 20.6 pts., 41.7 three-point pct., 80.1 FT pct.); G JaJuan Smith (6-2 junior, 15.0 pts., 2.2 steals).

THE BUZZ -- The Volunteers want a fast pace; they can struggle in the half-court because of the lack of an inside game. And while they force a lot of turnovers because of their pressing style, their halfcourt defense isn't that good. Lofton has great range and isn't afraid to fire away. Chism and fellow freshman big man Duke Crews need to provide scoring and defense in the low post.

6. LOUISVILLE

LOCATION -- Louisville, Ky.

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

RECORD -- 23-9.

RPI -- 37.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 2-7.

KEY PLAYERS -- F David Padgett (6-11 junior, 9.6 pts., 5.7 reb., 1.5 blocks, 59.1 FG pct., 83.5 FT pct.); F Terrence Williams (6-6 sophomore, 12.7 pts., 7.2 reb., 3.9 assists).

THE BUZZ -- The Cardinals have a balanced offense (six players average between 7.8 and 12.7 points) and play good defense. They also have been playing well since hitting their stride in mid-January. That said, their offense isn't that good and their three-point shooting is spotty.

7. NEVADA

LOCATION -- Reno, Nev.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Western Athletic Conference.

RECORD -- 28-4.

RPI -- 23.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 2-2.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Nick Fazekas (6-11 senior, 20.5 pts., 11.2 reb., 1.4 blocks, 58.1 FG pct., 84.7 FT pct.); G Marcelus Kemp (6-5 junior, 18.3 pts., 4.3 reb., 41.5 three-point pct.); G Ramon Sessions (6-3 junior, 12.5 pts., 4.7 assists, 83.0 FT pct.).

THE BUZZ -- Fazekas is a legit All-American, and Kemp is a physically gifted guard. The Wolf Pack also can stroke it from three-point range (41.4 percent as a team). But the bench doesn't provide much, and the Wolf Pack doesn't always take good care of the ball.

8. BYU

LOCATION -- Provo, Utah.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Mountain West.

RECORD -- 25-8.

RPI -- 18.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 3-4.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Austin Ainge (6-2 senior, 7.8 pts., 4.5 assists, 49.1 three-point pct.); F-C Trent Plaisted (6-11 sophomore, 12.8 pts., 6.2 reb., 1.4 blocks, 55.0 FG pct.); F Keena Young (6-6 senior, 17.2 pts., 6.5 reb., 54.9 FG pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Cougars don't have a lot of good athletes, but they're efficient on offense (49.3 percent from the field as a team) and bang you around in the paint and on defense. They also shoot three-pointers well (41.3 percent). Conversely, they are bad from the line (65.8 percent).

BOTTOM 8 SEEDS

9. XAVIER

LOCATION -- Cincinnati

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- At-large, from Atlantic 10.

RECORD -- 24-8.

RPI -- 33.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 5-1.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Stanley Burrell (6-3 junior, 13.1 pts., 81.6 FT pct.); F Justin Doellman (6-9 senior, 13.4 pts., 5.5 reb., 1.1 blocks); G Drew Lavender (5-7 junior, 11.2 pts., 4.7 assists, 45.9 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Musketeers come in having won nine of their past 10, and Lavender - a transfer from Oklahoma - was a big reason for the good play. He's jet-quick, can get into the lane and also pop from the outside. The Musketeers need their three-pointers to be falling to be successful.

10. CREIGHTON

LOCATION -- Omaha, Neb.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Missouri Valley tournament.

RECORD -- 22-10.

RPI -- 20.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 2-2.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Nate Funk (6-3 senior, 17.6 pts., 47.8 FG pct.); C Anthony Tolliver (6-9 senior, 13.4 pts., 6.7 reb., 1.8 blocks); F Dane Watts (6-8 junior, 10.1 pts., 6.3 reb., 40.8 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Bluejays won't wow you with their athleticism or a high-powered offense. But they do just about everything well, including play defense, and are going to be a tough out. Funk has a great name and is a solid all-around player. Tolliver can bang with anybody in the low post. But he's their only true big man, and the Bluejays are a bit more turnover-prone than they should be for a team this well-coached.

11. STANFORD

LOCATION -- Palo Alto, Calif.

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

RECORD -- 18-12.

RPI -- 63.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 6-8.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Anthony Goods (6-4 sophomore, 13.3 pts.); F Lawrence Hill (6-8 sophomore, 15.9 pts., 6.0 reb., 41.2 three-point pct.); C Brook Lopez (7-0 freshman, 12.4 pts., 6.0 reb., 1.8 blocks).

THE BUZZ -- The Cardinal plays solid defense (183 blocks) and rebounds well. But its offense is inconsistent, and the team comes in having lost six of its past nine. Goods and Hill are the only three-point shooters of note, and the Cardinal isn't that good from the line (69.1 percent).

12. LONG BEACH STATE

LOCATION -- Long Beach, Calif.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Big West tournament.

RECORD -- 24-7.

RPI -- 79.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 0-2.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Sterling Byrd (6-6 senior, 13.9 pts., 6.7 reb.); G Kejuan Johnson (6-4 senior, 15.3 pts., 4.1 reb., 83.3 FT pct.); G Aaron Nixon (6-2 senior, 18.6 pts., 4.9 reb., 38.7 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The 49ers want a fast pace and love to fire away from three-point range (707 attempts, including four players with at least 100). All five starters are seniors, as are each of the top seven scorers. There is no low-post threat to speak of, on either end of the court. But the 49ers are dangerous if they're allowed to run-and-gun.

13. ALBANY

LOCATION -- Albany, N.Y.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won America East tournament.

RECORD -- 23-9.

RPI -- 78.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 0-1.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Brent Wilson (6-8 senior, 10.9 pts., 5.1 reb., 44.2 three-point pct.); G Jamar Wilson (6-1 senior, 18.3 pts., 6.3 reb., 4.9 assists, 38.2 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- Albany upset top-seeded Vermont in the America East final. Jamar Wilson is a solid all-around guard, and he makes Albany go. The frontcourt isn't much -Wilson is the leading rebounder - and foes should be able to do what they want in the low post.

14. PENNSYLVANIA

LOCATION -- Philadelphia.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Ivy League.

RECORD -- 22-8.

RPI -- 88.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 0-2.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Brian Grandieri (6-4 junior, 12.0 pts., 5.3 reb.); G Ibrahim Jaaber (6-2 senior, 15.9 pts., 5.3 assists, 3.0 steals, 52.5 FG pct.); F Mark Zoller (6-7 senior, 18.2 pts., 7.5 reb., 56.6 FG pct., 38.2 three-point pct.).

THE BUZZ -- Penn is steady and doesn't beat itself. Zoller is a steady all-around player. But the Quakers lack athleticism, are likely to get pounded on the boards by a high-level foe and shoot just 66.3 percent from the line. If Jaaber is stymied, Penn is in trouble.

15. NORTH TEXAS

LOCATION -- Denton, Texas.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Sun Belt tournament.

RECORD -- 23-10.

RPI -- 137.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 0-0.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Kendrick Davis (6-4 senior, 13.2 pts., 80.4 FT pct.); G Calvin Watson (6-5 senior, 15.8 pts., 4.1 reb., 39.5 three-point pct.); F Quincy Williams (6-8 junior, 10.5 pts., 7.0 reb., 1.1 blocks, 58.3 FG pct.).

THE BUZZ -- The Mean Green is athletic and likes a fast pace. Everyone goes to the boards, and they can be pesky on defense. But they're sloppy with the ball (100 more turnovers than assists), struggle from the line (65.5 percent) and don't always work for the best shot.

16. CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE

LOCATION -- New Britain, Conn.

HOW BID WAS EARNED -- Won Northeast tournament.

RECORD -- 22-11.

RPI -- 147.

RECORD VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD -- 0-1.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Tristan Blackwood (6-0 junior, 17.3 pts., 4.2 assists, 38.9 three-point pct., 92.4 FT pct.); Javier Mojica (6-3 senior, 16.7 pts., 7.1 reb., 40.8 three-point pct.); F Obie Nwadike (6-4 senior, 14.8 pts., 10.9 reb.).

THE BUZZ -- Central Connecticut comes in having won 17 of its past 18, but the competition level wasn't very high. This is a nice low-level team, and Blackwood and Mojica form a solid backcourt. Central Connecticut will have to hit its three-pointers if it's to stay close to a power-league foe. Depth is bad.

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