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WEST REGIONAL

The Baltimore Sun

WEST REGIONAL

1. UCLA

LOCATION -- Los Angeles.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Won Pacific-10 Conference tournament.

RECORD, RPI -- 31-3, 4th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 41st appearance and third consecutive.

KEY PLAYERS -- C Kevin Love (6-10/Fr., 17.4 ppg, 10.9 rpg); G Darren Collison (6-0/Jr., 14.6 ppg, 4 apg); G Russell Westbrook (6-3/Soph., 12.8 ppg, 4.4 apg).

THE BUZZ -- Ben Howland has taken the Bruins to the Final Four two years in a row, losing to Florida in the 2006 national title game and again to the Gators in the 2007 semifinals.

2. Duke

LOCATION -- Durham, N.C.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At-large berth from Atlantic Coast Conference.

RECORD, RPI -- 27-5, 6th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 32nd appearance and 13th consecutive.

KEY PLAYERS -- G DeMarcus Nelson (6-4/Sr., 15.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg); G Greg Paulus (6-1/Jr., 3.4 apg); F Kyle Singler (6-8/Fr., 14.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- This isn't a vintage dominant Duke team of the late 1990s and earlier part of this decade, but the Blue Devils are still plenty dangerous, especially if their three-pointers are falling.

3. Xavier

LOCATION -- Cincinnati.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At-large berth from Atlantic 10 Conference.

RECORD, RPi -- 27-6, 9th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 19th appearance and third consecutive.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Josh Duncan (6-9/Sr., 11.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg); G Drew Lavender (5-7/Sr., 10.8 ppg; 4.4 apg).

THE BUZZ -- The Musketeers fought through one of the most hotly contested conference seasons in Atlantic 10 history to earn No. 1 conference seed for second consecutive year.

4. Connecticut

LOCATION -- Storrs, Conn.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At large-berth from Big East Conference.

RECORD, RPI -- 24-8, 18th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 27th appearance and first since 2006.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Jeff Adrian (6-7/Jr., 14.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg); G A.J. Price (6-2/Jr., 14.7 ppg, 6.0 apg); C Hasheem Thabeet (7-3/Soph., 10.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- The Huskies are tough on the offensive boards, and Price makes the offense go.

5. Drake

LOCATION -- Des Moines, Iowa.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Won Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

RECORD, RPI -- 28-4, 10th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is fourth appearance, and first since 1971.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Josh Young (6-1/Soph., 15.8 ppg, 44.6 percent from 3-pt); G Leonard Houston (6-3/Sr., 14 ppg, 4.4 rpg); F Jonathan Cox (6-8/Jr., 11.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg); PG Adam Emmenecker (6-1/Sr., 8.5 ppg. 6.2 apg).

THE BUZZ -- Emmenecker's career high at his Saginaw (Mich.) high school was 12 points, and he had to walk on at Drake. This season he was voted MVC regular-season and tournament Most Valuable Player.

6. Purdue

LOCATION -- West Lafayette, Ind.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At-large berth from Big Ten Conference.

RECORD, RPI -- 24-8, 44th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is Purdue's 22nd appearance and second consecutive.

KEY PLAYERS -- G E'Twaun Moore (6-3/Fr., 12.4 ppg); G/F Robbie Hummel (6-8/Fr., 11.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg); G Keaton Grant (6-4/Soph., 10.7 ppg).

THE BUZZ -- The Boilermakers won 14 of their last 16 regular-season games before losing to Illinois in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.

7. West Virginia

LOCATION -- Morgantown, W.Va.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At-large berth from Big East Conference.

RECORD, RPI -- 24-10, 30th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 21st appearance and first since 2006.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Joe Alexander (6-8/Jr., 16.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg); F Da'Sean Butler (6-7/Soph., 12.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg); G Darris Nichols (6-3/Sr., 11.2 ppg, 3.4 apg); F Alex Ruoff (6-6/Jr., 14.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- The Mountaineers are the best team in the Big East at avoiding turnovers, but are average from the free-throw line.

8. BYU

LOCATION -- Provo, Utah.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At-large berth from Mountain West Conference.

RECORD, RPI -- 27-7, 25th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 23rd appearance, and second consecutive.

KEY PLAYERS -- F/C Trent Plaisted (6-11/Jr., 15.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg); G Lee Cummard (6-7/Jr., 15.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg); G/F Jonathan Tavernari (6-6/Soph., 13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- BYU has won two straight MWC regular-season titles but needs to translate that success in the NCAA tournament.

9. Texas A&M;

LOCATION -- College Station, Texas.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At-large berth from Big 12 Conference.

RECORD, RPI -- 24-10, 41st.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is ninth appearance and third consecutive.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Joseph Jones (6-9/Sr., 10.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg); F Josh Carter (6/7, Jr., 12.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- The Aggies didn't fall apart after losing coach Billy Gillispie to Kentucky and now post the longest consecutive streak to the NCAA tournament in school history.

10. Arizona

LOCATION -- Tucson, Ariz.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At-large berth from Pacific-10 Conference.

RECORD, RPI -- 19-14, 37th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 26th appearance and 23rd consecutive.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Jerryd Bayless (6-3/Fr., 20.3 ppg, 4.3 apg); F Chase Budinger (6-7/Sr., 17.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg); F Jordan Hill (6-10/Soph., 13 ppg, 8 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- Lute Olson is still the Wildcats' coach, but all season they were led by coach-in-waiting Kevin O'Neill, former NBA assistant and head coach at Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern.

11. Baylor

LOCATION -- Waco, Texas.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- At-large berth from Big 12 Conference.

RECORD, RPI -- 21-10, 42nd.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is fifth appearance and first since 1988.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Curtis Jerrells (6-1/Jr., 14.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg); G LaceDarius Dunn (6-4/Fr., 13.5 ppg. 4.1 rpg); F Kevin Rogers (6-9/Jr., 12.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- The Bears went from 15-16 last year to the Big 12's Cinderella team after big wins against Southern California, Texas A&M; and Kansas State.

12. Western Kentucky

LOCATION -- Bowling Green, Ky.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Won Sun Belt Conference tournament.

RECORD, RPI -- 25-6, 40th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 20th appearance and fourth this decade.

KEY PLAYERS -- G/F Courtney Lee (6-5/Soph., 20.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg); G Tyrone Brazelton (6-0/Sr., 13.3 ppg, 3.6 apg).

THE BUZZ -- The Hilltoppers go into the tournament on a six-game winning streak, with each victory by a double-digit margin.

13. San Diego

LOCATION -- San Diego.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Won West Coast Conference tournament.

RECORD, RPI -- 21-13, 94th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is fourth appearance, and first since 2003.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Brandon Johnson (6-0/Jr., 16.8 ppg); F Gyno Pomare (6-8/Jr., 13.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg); F Rob Jones (6-6/Fr., 8.4 ppg).

THE BUZZ -- Upset of Gonzaga in the WCC tourney championship broke the hearts of several bubble teams.

14. Georgia

LOCATION -- Athens, Ga.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Won Southeastern Conference tournament.

RECORD, RPI -- 17-16, 98th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is 12th appearance and first since 2005.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Sundiata Gaines (6-1/Sr., 14.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg); F Terrance Woodbury (6-7/Jr., 10.7 ppg, 4 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- Losers of six of seven to end the regular season, the Bulldogs beat Mississippi, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Arkansas to win their second SEC tournament crown.

15. Belmont

LOCATION -- Nashville, Tenn.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Won Atlantic Sun Conference tournament.

RECORD, RPI -- 25-8, 79th.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is third appearance and third consecutive.

KEY PLAYERS -- G Justin Hare (6-2/Sr., 14.9 ppg, 2.9 apg); G/F Shane Dansby (6-4/Jr., 13.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg).

THE BUZZ -- The Bruins have taken 956 three-pointers this season, and they've made 36.5 percent of them.

16. Mississippi Valley State

LOCATION -- Itta Bena, Miss.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Won Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.

RECORD, RPI -- 17-15, 223rd.

NCAA HISTORY -- This is fourth appearance and first since 1996.

KEY PLAYERS -- F Carl Lucas (6-5/Sr., 12.7 ppg., 5.5 rpg.); C Larry Cox (6-10/Sr., 12.4 ppg., 8 rpg.); G Stanford Speech (6-3/Sr., 10.8 ppg., 2.6 apg.).

THE BUZZ -- No SWAC team has won an NCAA tournament first-round game since Southern shocked Georgia Tech in 1993. Jackson State drew Florida last season and lost 112-69.

ORLANDO SENTINEL

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