March 16, 2008

THE PARTICULARS

Most overseeded: Vanderbilt (26-7) is a bit of a surprise at No. 4. The Commodores finished third in the SEC East, didn't win a road game of note and lost in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.

Most underseeded: No one should have any complaints in this category in this region.

Best player: Forward Michael Beasley, Kansas State. The most talented player in the nation? It's this freshman. Take him off the Wildcats' roster, and they might be might be an NIT team. The guy is a double-double machine and a beast in the low post. He also can hit the occasional 3-pointer and handle the ball. In short, he does it all.

Best player you've never heard of: G Wink Adams, UNLV. Adams, a junior from Houston, is a former five-star recruit who has played important minutes since stepping foot on campus. He has 3-point range, but also is strong and quick enough to put the ball on the floor, get into the lane and finish around the hoop.

Best first-round matchups: There are a few in this region. First, there's USC-Kansas State, which matches two of the nation's marquee freshman in Beasley and USC's O.J. Mayo. The Trojans play clampdown defense; can they hold down Beasley Rivals.com's No. 1 player in the Class of 2007? Davidson-Gonzaga should have a lot of offense. Davidson will be playing close to home, and that should be an advantage for the Wildcats. Davidson hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since 1969, when Lefty Driesell was its coach. Siena-Vanderbilt is another that should produce a ton of points and a ton of 3-point attempts.

MCCLELLAN'S PICKS

First round: Kansas, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Clemson, USC, UNLV, Davidson.
Second round: Kansas, Georgetown, Clemson, USC.
Sweet 16: Kansas, Georgetown.
Final Four Pick: Georgetown.

HUGUENIN'S PICKS

First round: Kansas, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Clemson, USC, Kent State, Davidson.
Second round: Kansas, Georgetown, Clemson, USC.
Sweet 16: Kansas, Georgetown.
Final Four Pick: Georgetown.

THE BUZZ

Fullerton is in the field for the first time since 1978, when the Titans lost in the West Regional final to Arkansas and its "Triplets": Ronnie Brewer, Marvin Delph and Sidney Moncrief. Gonzaga is making its 10th consecutive appearance. A key player for Villanova is sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds. He originally signed with Oklahoma out of high school in Herndon, Va., but when Kelvin Sampson left for Indiana, OU released him from his scholarship and he eventually chose Villanova. Portland State has the largest student body of any university in Oregon. Kansas junior point guard Mario Chalmers is from Anchorage, Alaska. He was a three-time player of the year in Alaska, just like former Duke guard Trajan Langdon. Mario's dad, Ronnie, was his coach in high school and now is Kansas' director of basketball operations. . . . Kansas, by the way, has lost in the first round in two of the past three tournaments. The Jayhawks lost as a No. 3 seed (to Bucknell) in 2005 and as a No. 4 (to Bradley) in 2006. They have history on their side this season: A No. 1 seed has never lost in the first round. Davidson lost in East Regional finals in 1968 and '69. UMBC and Portland State are making their first NCAA appearances. Wisconsin is making its 10th consecutive NCAA appearance. Before this streak began under Dick Bennett, the Badgers had been three times in their history. Clemson is making its first appearance in 10 years. Its coach then was Rick Barnes, who is now at Texas. This is the sixth season for Kent State coach Jim Christian, and his team has won at least 20 games in each season. But this is just the Golden Flashes' second NCAA appearance under Christian.

ANALYSIS: East | Midwest | South | West | CAPSULES: East | Midwest | South | West

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. ET and can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.




 

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