NCAA Tournament Preview 2000
A closer look at this year's Madness
The teams have been announced and the NCAA tournament bid committee can return to their lives now that the eyes of the sports world are no longer watching them closer than the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Like every year at this time a few teams left out have a gripe. This year it seems the committee was good to the mid-major conferences like the Missouri Valley and West Coast Conference on Selection Sunday. Good teams from power conferences like Virginia and Vanderbilt were both left off the dance card despite having impressive wins on their schedule.
Former No. 1 Cincinnati was headed for a top seed but was relegated to a two-seed once consensus player of the year Kenyon Martin was sidelined with a broken leg, and they lost their opening game in the Conference USA Tournament.
Another top team with a potentially big injury is Arizona. The Wildcats somehow kept one of the four one-seeds despite losing 7-1 center Loren Woods for what will likely be the rest of the season. It must have been thanks to their late-season win over fellow one-seed Stanford. The Cardinal are No. 1 in the South region and tournament-mainstay Duke is the top seed in the East. In roughly three weeks the 64 teams will be whittled down to the final four who will play for the title in Indianapolis.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
South: Ohio State point guard Penn. Keep an eye on his backcourt mate Michael Redd too. Tennessee's Tony Harris is lightning-quick and fun to watch.
East: Temple's point guard Pepe Sanchez is all over the place on both ends of the court. Hofstra's Speedy Claxton can cause problems for other teams but probably not enough of them to lead the Flying Dutchmen out of the first round.
West: Barkley will be the key to St. John's chances of advancing to the Final Four. Chris Mihm is an inside force for Texas and will have to step up if the Longhorns hope to make noise. Oklahoma senior forward Eduardo Najera should get plenty of touches in the Sooners' drive for their first Final Four since 1988.
Midwest: Michigan State point guard Cleaves is one of the best players in the country. Fizer is a big time player himself who will remind people a little of Kenyon Martin. Central Connecticut State has a special secret in Rick Mickens, a guy can score and defend with the best of them.