PLAYERS TO WATCH Only once this season has a Cardinal shooter
scored more than 23 points in a game, a mark senior point guard
Arthur Lee reached three times in last year's NCAAs. Whether
Lee--Stanford's top scorer at 12.8 points a game this season--is
left to pretty much single-handedly carry the Cardinal to the
Final Four again will depend in part on the play of backcourt
mate Kris Weems (11.0 a game), who shot 24.6% in five 1998
SCOUTING REPORT A bruising team that has started the same five
upperclassmen for the last 55 games, Stanford is nevertheless
vulnerable to shooting funks such as the ones it had in February
home losses to Connecticut and USC. Seven Cardinal players have
been game-high scorers this season, so the balance is enviable,
but injuries to key reserves Jason Collins and Ryan Mendez mean
Stanford isn't as deep as last year.
Coach Mike Montgomery Record 25-6
Team scoring 73.6 (FG%: 44.0) (3-pointers: 185-538, 34.4%)
Opponent scoring 60.2 (FG%: 37.9)
Rebound margin +8.9 Team FT% 69.7
Whom not to foul Arthur Lee (88%), Tim Young (83%)
Whom to foul Mark Madsen (56%), Jarron Collins (59%)
Quality wins At St. John's 55-53; UCLA 72-59, 77-73
PREDICTION The wise Cardinal can slow down almost anyone; Elite
Eight foe Connecticut is one team it can't restrain.
15 Alcorn State
PLAYER TO WATCH Reuben Stiff, a 5'11" senior point guard, is
anything but the nonplayer his last name suggests. He led the
Braves in scoring (12.3 points a game), assists (3.9) and steals
(2.4), and his clutch play down the stretch in the Southwestern
Athletic Conference tournament final against Southern earned him
the MVP award.
SCOUTING REPORT Legendary 69-year-old coach Davey Whitney once
replaced Ernie Banks as the shortstop of the Kansas City
Monarchs in the Negro American League and is currently one of
only three Division I coaches whose team plays in a gym named
for him. With 11 players who have attempted at least 80 shots
this season, Whitney has an endless bench at his disposal. The
Braves don't shoot straight, but they dominate the boards,
especially since the midseason addition of 6'8", 303-pound Chad
Slaughter, a tackle on the football team.
Coach Davey Whitney Record 23-6
Team scoring 76.4 (FG%: 42.0) (3-pointers: 180-549, 32.8%)
Opponent scoring 66.7 (FG%: 39.4)
Rebound margin +8.9 Team FT% 64.4
Whom not to foul Donald Fleming (73%), Reuben Stiff (73%)
Whom to foul Marcus Fleming (57%), Wallace Harris (57%)
Quality wins None
PREDICTION Slaughter will find a bruiser happy to bang with him
in Stanford's Mark (Mad Dog) Madsen as the Braves fall early.
PLAYER TO WATCH Every Golden Gophers foe had the same strategy:
Stop Quincy Lewis. Not many succeeded. Lewis, a 6'7" senior
forward, ran away with the Big Ten scoring title--his 24.1
average was almost six points better than that of runner-up
Louis Bullock of Michigan--and he was held to fewer than 20
points in just three league games. He was fourth in the
conference in field goal shooting (48.2%) and second in
three-point percentage (42.2).
SCOUTING REPORT Lewis and guard Kevin Clark (14.7 points per
game) account for 56% of Minnesota's scoring. The Gophers'
biggest problem has been a lack of production from point guards
Terrance Simmons and Kevin Nathaniel; each averaged fewer than
two assists in Big Ten play. Since promising 7'1" freshman Joel
Przybilla still has no post moves, Minnesota will try to force a
quicker tempo and get its points in transition.
Coach Clem Haskins Record 17-10
Team scoring 69.1 (FG%: 45.7) (3-pointers: 130-343, 37.9%)
Opponent scoring 64.9 (FG%: 39.9)
Rebound margin +3.8 Team FT% 68.1
Whom not to foul Quincy Lewis (81%), Kevin Clark (77%)
Whom to foul Kevin Nathaniel (54%), Joel Przybilla (57%)
Quality wins Indiana 90-83, Purdue 62-48
PREDICTION Another episode of Quincy, in the first round against
Gonzaga, will end in a loss for the underachieving Gophers.
PLAYER TO WATCH Junior guard Matt Santangelo shot so poorly in
November that he had trouble sleeping. Then, drawing on lessons
learned from someone whom he had worked out with and guarded in
pickup games in the off-season--Bulldogs alumnus John
Stockton--Santangelo rediscovered his stroke and scored a
career-high 34 points, including a school-record eight
three-pointers, in the West Coast Conference tournament final.
SCOUTING REPORT Because Gonzaga's strength is on the perimeter,
whence Santangelo, Richie Frahm and Quentin Hall have each made
at least 48 treys, coach Dan Monson estimates that the Bulldogs
have faced a zone defense on fewer than 40 possessions this
season. Gonzaga, whose big men aren't all that hefty, is
vulnerable on the boards and on defense against powerful post
Coach Dan Monson Record 25-6
Team scoring 79.1 (FG%: 48.1) (3-pointers: 254-646, 39.3%)
Opponent scoring 64.6 (FG%: 40.6)
Rebound margin +4.7 Team FT% 72.8
Whom not to foul Quentin Hall (82%), Richie Frahm (78%)
Whom to foul Casey Calvary (53%), Axel Dench (69%)
Quality win Washington 82-71
PREDICTION Get ready to hear the phrase "John Stockton's alma
mater" until the Bulldogs go out in the second round against
3 North Carolina
PLAYER TO WATCH Ademola Okulaja used to be the other guy in a
blue-chip recruiting class that included Antawn Jamison and
Vince Carter, but with his classmates' early departures for the
NBA, Okulaja has emerged as the first player ever to lead the
Tar Heels in scoring (13.8 points a game), rebounding (8.4),
three-pointers (54) and steals (45). After sinking only 25.8%
from behind the arc last year, he improved to 43.2% and has
become North Carolina's top option in crunch time.
SCOUTING REPORT The Heels probably start the nation's tallest
lineup, with 6'9" Okulaja, 7-foot Brendan Haywood, 6'10" Kris
Lang and 6'8" guard Jason Capel, but junior point guard Ed Cota
is plodding Carolina's only reliable ball handler. As a result,
the Heels had almost as many turnovers (518) as assists (526).
That could be their undoing against a quick, athletic team.
Coach Bill Guthridge Record 24-9
Team scoring 71.3 (FG%: 47.4) (3-pointers: 166-439, 37.8%)
Opponent scoring 64.5 (FG%: 39.1)
Rebound margin +8.9 Team FT% 71.9
Whom not to foul Jason Capel (85%), Max Owens (84%)
Whom to foul Ed Cota (67%), Kris Lang (67%)
Quality wins Stanford 57-49, Maryland 86-79
PREDICTION If the Heels go far, they will protect the honor of
an ACC that felt slighted by only three bids. One round isn't far.
14 Weber State
PLAYER TO WATCH New Orleans native Harold Arceneaux, a 6'6"
junior forward who shot 51.3%, can put on a sheaux, whether he's
popping from outside or posting up down leaux. At Weber State,
Arceneaux's third new school in a reaux, he earned Big Sky
player of the year honors by averaging 21.5 points and 6.0
rebounds a game. That's why no less an authority than Utah Jazz
president Frank Layden thinks Arceneaux has a future as a preaux.
SCOUTING REPORT The last time the Wildcats made the tournament,
in 1995, they upset Michigan State and lost at the buzzer to
Georgetown. For Weber State to repeat that feat, it will have to
rely on Arceneaux and its sticky man-to-man D, which had 9.4
steals per game, a Big Sky high. The Wildcats' biggest
shortcoming: Their tallest starter is 6'7" center Andy Jensen,
who's the brother of Utah's Alex.
Coach Ron Abegglen Record 24-7
Team scoring 79.4 (FG%: 48.2) (3-pointers: 191-513, 37.2%)
Opponent scoring 72.7 (FG%: 46.7)
Rebound margin +4.2 Team FT% 70.1
Whom not to foul Eddie Gill (87%), Harold Arceneaux (75%)
Whom to foul Damien Baskerville (61%)
Quality wins None
PREDICTION It's WEE-ber with a long e; with no big man to match
Carolina inside, it's going to be a long first-round game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH The Gators' freshman class of forward Mike
Miller, center Udonis Haslem and guard Teddy Dupay--purportedly
the best in the nation--is good, but Florida figures to go only
as far as seniors Eddie Shannon and Greg Stolt take it. "They're
like Mom and Dad with the children," one SEC coach says. They
both do the unexpected: Shannon gets a lot of layups for a 5'11"
point guard; Stolt, a 6'8" forward, makes 42.6% of his threes.
SCOUTING REPORT As befits the Pitinoesque roots of third-year
coach Billy Donovan, the Gators go 10 deep. Florida won three
SEC games in which its tongue-dragging opponents didn't score in
the final 2:30. Donovan also still believes in the three-point
shot--seven of his players made 17 or more this season. The key
to shutting down the Gators: Play strong perimeter defense and
get them into a half-court game.
Coach Billy Donovan Record 20-8
Team scoring 80.7 (FG%: 47.5) (3-pointers: 264-695, 38.0%)
Opponent scoring 70.3 (FG%: 42.8)
Rebound margin +0.6 Team FT% 70.4
Whom not to foul Kenyan Weaks (87%), Teddy Dupay (82%)
Whom to foul Udonis Haslem (59%), Brent Wright (66%)
Quality wins Tennessee 93-72, Kentucky 75-68, Arkansas 74-61
PREDICTION The Gators will sprint past Penn and North Carolina
before running into their Elm St., tempo-controlling Stanford.
PLAYER TO WATCH How tough is playing without opening your mouth?
Ask Quakers 6'11" junior center Geoff Owens, whose jaw has been
wired shut since he fractured it diving for a loose ball last
month. Opponents have since whacked Owens in the jaw four times,
and once the wires had to be retightened during a game. At least
he's playing. Owens, who averaged 9.5 points and 7.4 rebounds,
missed all of last season because of complications from
SCOUTING REPORT Junior point guard Michael Jordan has the name.
His game? It's getting there. He led Penn in scoring (15.3
points per game) and assists (4.6) and heads up a lineup that
features four double-figure scorers. With Owens back this
season, the Quakers transformed their average rebound margin
(from -1.5 to +5.5) and field goal defense (from 45.8% to
40.6%). What they lack is speed.
Coach Fran Dunphy Record 21-5
Team scoring 71.5 (FG%: 47.0) (3-pointers: 194-497, 39.0%)
Opponent scoring 60.2 (FG%: 40.6)
Rebound margin +5.5 Team FT% 65.9
Whom not to foul Jed Ryan (87%), Michael Jordan (81%)
Whom to foul Geoff Owens (50%), Paul Romanczuk (62%)
Quality win Temple 73-70
PREDICTION The gritty Quakers won't stop fighting, but they
haven't seen anyone in the Ivy like first-round foe Florida.