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NCAA's ABCs

The Baltimore Sun

A is for the anterior cruciate ligament that Kansas star Brandon Rush tore up in May, a week before he was scheduled to audition at an NBA pre-draft camp. The injury scuttled any plans he had of going pro (he had not yet signed with an agent) and guaranteed his return to the Jayhawks.

B is for Brian Butch, the Wisconsin forward who took this most unusual step out of high school. After playing in the 2003 McDonald's All-American Game against an East team that featured LeBron James, who would go on to immediate pro fame, he chose to redshirt his freshman year with the Badgers.

C is for Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky's 6-foot-5 guard and leading scorer. Last summer, to sharpen himself up for this season, he attended James' skills academy, as well as Vince Carter's.

D is for Darrin Horn, the Western Kentucky coach. Not only was he a Marquette assistant on the Golden Eagles' 2003 Final Four team, but he also was a member of the 1993 Western Kentucky team that advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over Seton Hall and a then-Memphis State team that featured Penny Hardaway.

E is for Eleven, which is the number of current head coaches who either played for or worked under Louisville's Rick Pitino. Included in the group are Florida's Billy Donovan, Minnesota's Tubby Smith and the Sacramento Kings' Reggie Theus.

F is for Fool's Gold, which can be another name for the three-point shot. It is surely a big part of the game now, but according to the latest available statistics, Davidson and Tennessee are the only teams remaining that rank in the top 50 in number of threes made per game. The Wildcats are No. 17 and the Volunteers are No. 22.

G is for the Guards at Texas. Their names are D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams, and the Longhorns will go only as far as Augustin and Abrams carry them.

H is for the Hereditary skill passed on to Davidson guard Stephen Curry by his father, Dell, a longtime NBA sharpshooter. The younger Curry showed similar ability in leading the Wildcats past Gonzaga and Georgetown.

I is for the Imports on the roster of Washington State, located in tiny Pullman. Its starters hail from Honolulu; Austin, Texas; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Beloit, Wis.; and Cairns, Australia. The rotation includes players from New Zealand and Serbia.

J is for Josh Duncan, the Xavier forward who leads the team in scoring even though he spent part of the season coming off the bench.

K is for Kalin Lucas, Michigan State's freshman guard. Often overshadowed during the season by Indiana's Eric Gordon and the freshman group at Purdue, he is, in the words of his coach, Tom Izzo, "fearless."

L is for the 7-foot Lopez twins of Stanford, Brook and Robin. Brook is the scorer, averaging 19.2 points per game, and Robin is the defender, averaging a Pacific-10 best 2.34 blocks per game.

M is for Margin of Victory. Kansas, in the latest available stats, leads the nation, winning its games by an average of 19.9 points.

N is for Not Likely. Two 1-vs.-12 matchups are set with top seed Kansas meeting Villanova in the Midwest and top seed UCLA meeting Western Kentucky in the West.

O is for Outside Shooting, which Villanova must get to succeed. In the regular season, the Wildcats were 13-1 when making eight or more three-pointers and 6-10 when making fewer than eight.

P is for Psycho T, which is the nickname of North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough. If you have to ask why, you haven't been paying attention.

Q is for Quiet, which West Virginia coach Bob Huggins rarely is on the sidelines. But in his first year with the Mountaineers, he took a group of inherited players and guided the school to its third regional in four seasons.

R is for Raymar Morgan, the enigmatic Michigan State forward who recalls that little girl in the nursery rhyme who had a little curl: "When she was good/She was very, very good/But when she was bad/She was awful!"

S is for Sean Miller, the Xavier coach. As a fifth-grader, he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and exhibited his considerable ball-handling skills.

T is for Tyler Smith, the Tennessee forward who last season was Iowa's second-leading scorer. He transferred so he could be closer to his ailing father in Pulaski, Tenn. Sadly, Billy Smith never got to see his son perform for the Vols. He died of cancer in mid-September.

U is for Unconscious, which describes Kansas' recent shooting. In five games in the Big 12 and NCAA tournament, the Jayhawks have shot 52.1 percent overall and 45.2 percent on threes.

V is for V, the Roman Numeral for five. The number applies to UCLA, which is trying to become the fifth school to appear in three straight Final Fours since John Wooden's run with the Bruins ended in 1976.

W is for Warp Speed, the pace preferred by North Carolina. The Tar Heels are averaging 88.7 points per game, second best in the nation and the best of any team remaining.

X is for Xavier, which has developed into a cradle of coaches. Before Miller was Thad Matta, who moved on to Ohio State; before Matta was the late Skip Prosser, who moved on to Wake Forest; and before Prosser was Pete Gillen, who moved on to Providence and then Virginia.

Y is for the Young, who stand out in the round of 16. Among the most notable are freshmen Lucas, Kevin Love of UCLA and Derrick Rose of Memphis.

Z is for Zero, which is the number of McDonald's All-Americans on West Virginia. Duke, the team it beat to reach the West regional, had eight.

Skip Myslenski writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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