To predict which teams will advance to this year's Final Four in
Atlanta, we analyzed the most basic attributes of all 65
entrants. Which teams have the brawny rebounders [P6] to
dominate the glass, and which have the closer-than-a-shadow
defensive demons [P2] to shut down the hottest shooters? Which
have the shaky ball handlers [N1] who'll feel the pressure or
lack the tournament experience [N5] so crucial in the NCAAs?
After weighing all this stuff, SI's council of wise guys
selected its Final Four: Maryland from the East, Kansas from the
Midwest, USC from the South and Oklahoma from the West. In the
championship game we'll take Kansas over Big 12 rival Oklahoma
in a rematch of the 1988 final, which was also won by the
[P1] Above-average foul shooting
[P2] Strong defensively
[P3] Strong guards
[P4] Star can carry team
[P5] Good 3-point shooters
[P6] Superior rebounding
[P7] Experienced in NCAAs
[N1] Shaky ball handling
[N2] Snakebit coach
[N3] Weak rebounding
[N4] Too many bricks from foul line
[N5] Little NCAA experience
[N6] Thin bench
[N7] Poor defensively
[P1 P3 P7]
16 ALCORN STATE*
[P3 P6 N4 N5]
[P1 N1 N4]
9 ST. JOHN'S
[P4 N3 N1 N4]
[P2 P6 P5 N1 N5]
[P1 P5 N3 N7]
[P4 P6 P7 N4 N1]
[P2 P3 N4]
6 TEXAS TECH
[P2 N3 N5]
11 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS
[P2 P3 N4]
[P1 P3 N6]
14 MURRAY STATE
[P1 P6 N6 N5]
7 N.C. STATE
[P1 N3 N5]
10 MICHIGAN STATE
[P2 P1 N1]
[P2 P4 P6 N1 N5]
[P5 P7 N4 N1]
SWAC's Braves bring sweet band, little else in sacrificial lamb
role. But they can say they went 1-1 in NCAAs!
Shouldn't 8-9 games be attractive pairings? Scrappy Badgers will
have their way with rim-clanging Johnnies.
Silky three-point shooting will keep Tulsa close, but Golden
Eagles will blow away Hurricane on boards.
Wildcats stagger into NCAAs, but experienced Tayshaun Prince will
conquer dangerous Crusaders.
Hype aside, Bob Knight's teams have failed miserably in
tournament of late: 2-6 in last seven years.
Seeded-too-high Dawgs escape upset thanks to Racers' bench, which
is even thinner than Georgia's.
Spartans ready to exploit monster rebounding differential (+8.0
to Pack's 0.0) in quick N.C. State exit.
Can Pirates repeat upset magic? Not this time. Wary Huskies have
too much speed and size inside.
What chance do Badgers have of knocking off Maryland at MCI
Center, a.k.a. Terrapin Station? Almost none. So much for neutral
Tough, cohesive Eagles will outshoot and outhustle Wildcats and
hand Tubby Smith first back-to-back-to-back 10-loss seasons in
Saluki here! Buoyed by partisan Chicago crowd, underdog rides
guards Kent Williams and Stetson Hairston to upset of Bulldogs,
who finished 5-6.
Down year for Spartans? Hardly. State's Marcus Taylor will be
better than Huskies' Taliek Brown in battle of sophomore point
Terps' tournament graybeards know how to win with smart guards
pounding ball in to Lonny Baxter, who then kicks it out for
Salukis coach Bruce Weber, former Purdue assistant, would love to
beat another Big Ten team, but Spartans are just too tough up
This year may be Tom Izzo's best coaching job yet, but his skill
isn't enough to beat gifted Terps, whose speed and power will
overwhelm young Spartans.
[P4 P3 P5 P6 N2]
16 HOLY CROSS
[P2 P6 N6]
[P4 P6 N1 N7]
9 WESTERN KENTUCKY
[P4 P6 P5]
[P5 P6 N1]
[P1 P5 N3 N1]
[P4 P3 P7 P1]
13 SAN DIEGO STATE
[N4 N1 N5]
[P3 P6 N2]
11 BOSTON COLLEGE
[P4 P3 N3 N7]
3 MISSISSIPPI STATE
[P4 P6 N4 N5]
14 MCNEESE STATE
[P2 N5 N1 N4]
7 WAKE FOREST
[P2 P1 N3 N1]
[P5 P1 N5]
[P2 P3 N4 N5]
Crusaders lost by only four to Kentucky in '01 NCAAs, eliminating
element of surprise against Jayhawks.
Cardinal's shaky guards spell doom in matchup of nation's top
centers, Chris Marcus and Curtis Borchardt.
Beefy center Udonis Haslem will turn weak-rebounding Bluejays
into Gatorbait under the boards.
Guard Al Faux helped Aztecs win league tournament, but they have
little chance for upset of hot Illini.
Poor-shooting Eagles shouldn't have made tournament and will get
comeuppance from Longhorns in Dallas.
Nervous, Tic? McNeese coach Tic Price (late of Memphis) should
be, going up against SEC tournament champs.
Demon Deacons relive last year's early exit (courtesy of Butler)
against another scary, athletic mid-major.
Big Sky's best will be no match for sizzling Quack Attack,
nation's top three-point shooting crew.
Hilltoppers' balance will put Jayhawks on ropes, but two sterling
big guys (Drew Gooden and Nick Collison) are better than one
Return of tough-as-nails glue-guy Lucas Johnson has steeled once
flimsy Illini for moment-of-truth games like this one.
Bulldogs' Super Mario (Austin) saves the day, though State should
blast NCAA committee for giving lower-seeded Texas home court
Oregon punked Waves in Eugene in December, but Ducks, only 7-8
away from home, will join Gonzaga, UCLA and USC on Pepperdine
Rematch of last year's Midwest semi goes the other way this time
as Jayhawks' tungsten guards neutralize Illini's Frank Williams
and Cory Bradford.
Paul Westphal's high-flying gunners wave goodbye to another
big-time foe. West Coast nobodies? Not! They went 17-2 to finish
Jayhawks too fast, too big and too strong for Waves, who'll learn
what we already know: You can't beat the Jayhawks by running with
[P4 P3 N3 N4]
[P2 N1 N4]
8 NOTRE DAME
[P4 P5 N1]
[P2 P1 P5]
[P2 P5 N6]
[P7 P3 P4]
13 UNC WILMINGTON
[P2 P3 N3 N5]
[P2 P1 P5 N3]
[P2 P6 N4 N5]
14 CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE
[P1 P6 N1 N5]
7 OKLAHOMA STATE
[P6 P7 N4]
10 KENT STATE
[P1 P3 P6 P7]
[P2 P1 N1 N5]
15 FLORIDA ATLANTIC
[P4 P6 N4 N5]
Win-what? For the Eagles, certainly not this game, though star
Greg Lewis averages a double double.
How did either of these teams deserve bid ahead of 25-5 Butler?
Irish guards prevail in NIT-quality matchup.
Utes and Hoosiers live and die on three-pointers. Grim Reaper
picks Utah, which stumbled down stretch.
Seahawks guard Brett Blizzard chills foes with 2.06 steals a
game, but Wilmington can't stop Trojan hosses.
Quakers won Big Five for first time in 28 years. Now they
dispatch jet-lagged, soft-inside Bears.
Other Blue Devils haven't lost since Dec. 30, but Pitt (with
dinged Brandin Knight) is playing at home.
Winners of 18 straight, Golden Flashes boast NCAAs experience and
Trevor Huffman, star of 2001 Indiana upset.
Coach Sidney Green's Owls were 2-28 when he took over two years
ago but still can't handle Tide.
Another protege bites the dust as ex-Blue Devils assistant Mike
Brey takes on Coach K, who bounced Quin Snyder in last year's
This time, three-point Reaper taps Hoosiers who have nobody to
corral Trojans strongman Sam Clancy under boards.
Keystone State extravaganza is pits for trey-chucking Quakers,
who may be too nonviolent for Big East's best defenders.
You know what's said about freshman point guards in the
tournament. Tide's Mo Williams finds out the hard way against
Trojans dare Chris Duhon and Dahntay Jones to beat them and
maximize Clancy's inside edge over Carlos Boozer to avenge loss
in regionals a year ago.
Rust Belt roundelay goes to Panthers when Huffman's Midas
shooting touch deserts him, just as it did in second-round loss
to Cincinnati in 2001.
Sage Trojans use regional final experience and inside-outside
combo of Clancy, David Bluthenthal and Brandon Granville to
neutralize young, yippy Panthers.
[P6 P2 P4 N2]
16 BOSTON UNIVERSITY
[P1 N3 N1 N5]
[P5 N1 N2]
9 OLE MISS
[P1 P5 N1 N6]
[P1 P3 N3]
[P4 P5 N1 N6]
4 OHIO STATE
[P2 P3 P7 N4]
[P2 P3 P5 P6 P7]
[P2 P6 N1 N5]
[P3 P1 P4 N3]
14 UC SANTA BARBARA
[P1 P3 N6]
[P2 P4 N1 N6]
[P4 N4 N5]
[P1 P6 P3 N2]
[P3 P6 N4 N5]
Terriers' dicey ball handling and Charmin-quality rebounding
could make for very ugly outcome.
Young, thin (six deep) Rebels are 6-8 in games decided by less
than 10 points; make it 6-9 after this one.
Tigers have edge on glass (+3.9 to -1.6) and superior shooters in
Clarence Gilbert and Kareem Rush.
Buckeyes armed for NCAAs with three Big Ten-tested guards (Brian
Brown, Brent Darby, Boban Savovic).
Disgraced tourney committee be damned, deadeye Bulldogs will
shoot clangin' Cowboys into oblivion.
Gauchos will be running for pampas by the time Wildcats'
up-and-down attack is done with them.
Sweet-shooting Rainbows are on second week of mainland road trip.
Why not stay longer?
Flames can torch foes from long range (41.2%), but Sooners'
Sampsonite D gives shooters a beating.
Bearcats lick their chops over UCLA's aimless, turnover-prone
attack. Another chance for Steve Logan to score more points than
Every once in a while, lights go out in three-point land for
long-range-gunning Tigers. This will be one of those times.
Other No. 6 seeds: Cal, Texas, Texas Tech. Which would Wildcats
rather have faced than more seasoned 29-3 Bulldogs? Time to dump
Predrag Savovic-led Rainbows will take Sooners to limit, but
Hawaii will see defense not often experienced in WAC arenas.
After decades, old rivalry is renewed in ... San Jose? No matter:
Bearcats win thriller behind biggest star in Buckeye State--Logan.
Bruising Sooners abuse and harass Bulldogs outside shooters into
inevitable off game while pressing size advantage in middle.
Not since Billy Tubbs era have Sooners mixed brawn (Aaron McGhee)
and skill (Hollis Price) so well. Oklahoma balance sinks Bearcats
in black-and-blue final.
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY AL TIELEMANS COVER ARE YOU READY? EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL OUR PICKS TO WIN P.49 The Blue Devils' Jason Williams
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK It says here that Kirk Hinrich and Kansas will roll over Oklahoma in the final.
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO Maryland's Steve Blake
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO Michigan State's Aloysius Anagonye
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Kansas' Drew Gooden
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN MILLER/AP Pepperdine's Devin Montgomery
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH USC's Brandon Granville
COLOR PHOTO: JEFF ZELEVANSKY/AP Pitt's Ontario Lett
COLOR PHOTO: BOB DONNAN Cincinnati's Steve Logan
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Oklahoma's Quannas White