Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NCAA tournament: South Regional at a glance

1 FLORIDA

Record: 32-2, 18-0 Southeastern, first. RPI: 2.

Coach: Billy Donovan (20th season, 482-188; 447-168 in 18 seasons at Florida; 31-11 NCAA).

Best win: 67-61 vs. Kansas, Dec. 10.

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Worst loss: 65-64 at Connecticut, Dec. 2.

Three-pointers: 36.6 percent.

Free throws: 66.6 percent.

Top three: Casey Prather (14.3 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 61.7 field-goal percentage), Scottie Wilbekin (13.0 ppg., 3.7 apg.), Patric Young (11.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg., 54.8 field-goal percentage).

The skinny: A win away from last year's Final Four, the Gators haven't lost since Dec. 2. Florida is the first team to finish an 18-game SEC season with a perfect record. Three of the top four scorers are seniors.

 

2 KANSAS

Record: 24-9, 14-4 Big 12, 1st.

RPI: 3.

Coach: Bill Self (21st season, 531-173; 324-68 in 11 seasons at Kansas; 35-14 NCAA).

Best win: 94-83 vs. Duke, Nov. 12.

Worst loss: 92-86 at West Virginia, March 8.

Three-pointers: 34.5 percent.

Free throws: 71.1 percent.

Top three: Andrew Wiggins (17.4 ppg., 6.0 rpg.), Joel Embiid (11.2 ppg., 8.1 rpg., 2.6 bpg.), Perry Ellis (13.6 ppg., 6.5 rpg.).

The skinny: Wiggins, part of the ballyhooed potential NBA draft class, is the Big 12 freshman of the year. Embiid is the conference's defensive player of the year, but a back injury has kept him on the sideline since March 1.

 

3 SYRACUSE

Record: 27-5, 14-4 Atlantic Coast, 2d. RPI: 16.

Coach: Jim Boeheim (38th season, 947-319, all at Syracuse; 52-29 NCAA).

Best win: 78-62 vs. Villanova, Dec. 28.

Worst loss: 62-59, overtime, vs. Boston College, Feb. 19.

Three-pointers: 33.5 percent.

Free throws: 70.3 percent.

Top three: C.J. Fair (16.7 ppg., 6.2 rpg.), Trevor Cooney (12.2 ppg.), Tyler Ennis (12.7 ppg., 5.6 apg., 3.4 rpg.).

The skinny: The late-season stumbles (2-5 finish) should serve to motivate a Syracuse team that has lived off of its defense all season, allowing opponents just 59.5 ppg. The Orange's shooting tailed off late in the season.

 

4 UCLA

Record: 26-8, 12-6 Pac-12, 2d.

RPI: 14.

Coach: Steve Alford (23d season, 489-243; first season at UCLA; 5-7 NCAA).

Best win: 70-68 at Oregon, Jan. 30.

Worst loss: 75-71 vs. Arizona, March 15.

Three-pointers: 39.1 percent.

Free throws: 74.9 percent.

Top three: Jordan Adams (17.2 ppg., 5.3 rpg.), Kyle Anderson (14.9 ppg., 8.8 rpg., 6.6 apg.), Zach LaVine (10.0 ppg.).

The skinny: It's hard to get a handle on the Bruins. They scored 91 at Washington, then 55 at Washington State two days later. They then swept through the Pac-12 tournament, beating Arizona for the championship.

 

5 VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH

Record: 26-8, 12-4 Atlantic 10, 2d. RPI: 12.

Coach: Shaka Smart (5th season, 137-46, all at Virginia Commonwealth; 7-3 NCAA).

Best win: 59-56 at Virginia, Nov. 12.

Worst loss: 85-67 vs. Florida State, Nov. 21.

Three-pointers: 35.1 percent.

Free throws: 67.7 percent.

Top three: Treveon Graham (15.7 ppg., 6.9 rpg.), Juvonte Reddic (12.0 ppg., 8.5 rpg.), Briante Weber (9.6 ppg., 3.8 apg., 3.5 spg.).

The skinny: During the regular season, VCU led the A-10 in scoring margin (10.0 ppg.). Weber was named the A-10 defensive player of the year. Opponents shot just 29.9 percent from three-point range against the Rams.

 

6 OHIO STATE

Record: 25-9, 10-8 Big Ten, 5th.

RPI: 24.

Coach: Thad Matta (14th season, 377-113; 275-82 in 10 seasons at Ohio State; 23-11 NCAA).

Best win: 59-58 at Wisconsin, Feb. 1.

Worst loss: 71-70, overtime, vs. Penn State, Jan. 29.

Three-pointers: 32.6 percent.

Free throws: 68.9 percent.

Top three: LaQuinton Ross (15.4 ppg., 6.1 rpg.), Lenzelle Smith Jr. (11.1 ppg., 5.1 rpg.), Aaron Craft (9.6 ppg., 4.7 apg.).

The skinny: The Buckeyes will try to force teams to run with their host of athletes. Ross is one of the better players in the conference. Ohio State is in the NCAAs despite a four-game skid and two bad losses to Penn State.

 

7 NEW MEXICO

Record: 27-6, 15-3 Mountain West, 2d. RPI: 13.

Coach: Craig Neal (1st season, 27-6).

Best win: 63-54 vs. Cincinnati, Dec. 7.

Worst loss: 76-73 vs. UNLV, Jan. 15.

Three-pointers: 33.7 percent.

Free throws: 72.7 percent.

Top three: Cameron Bairstow (20.3 ppg., 7.4 rpg.), Kendall Williams (16.4 ppg., 4.9 apg.), Alex Kirk (13.6 ppg., 8.7 rpg., 2.7 bpg.).

The skinny: The Lobos make their name on the defensive end of the court. They held each of their last six regular-season opponents to less than 60 points and their 38.9 field-goal percentage defense was 10th in the nation.

 

8 COLORADO

Record: 23-11, 10-8 Pac-12, tied 3d. RPI: 33.

Coach: Tad Boyle (8th season, 148-115; 92-49 in four seasons at Colorado; 4-9 NCAA).

Best win: 100-91 vs. Oregon, Jan. 5.

Worst loss: 71-54 at Washington, Jan. 12.

Three-pointers: 32.0 percent.

Free throws: 71.6 percent.

Top three: Spencer Dinwiddie (14.7 ppg.), Josh Scott (14.1 ppg., 8.5 rpg.), Askia Booker (14.0 ppg.).

The skinny: The Buffaloes are in the NCAAs for the third time in Boyle's four seasons. Colorado is second in the Pac-12 behind Arizona in rebounding margin, and 13th overall in Division I. They also are second in the league in fewest fouls committed.

 

9 PITTSBURGH

Record: 25-9, 11-7 Atlantic Coast, 5th. RPI: 39.

Coach: Jamie Dixon (11th season, 287-95, all at Pittsburgh; 11-9 NCAA).

Best win: 88-67 vs. Stanford, Nov. 26.

Worst loss: 71-66 vs. Florida State, Feb. 23.

Three-pointers: 35.6 percent.

Free throws: 71.1 percent.

Top three: Lamar Patterson (17.6 ppg., 4.3 apg.), Talib Zanna (12.9 ppg., 8.8 rpg.), Cameron Wright (10.6 ppg.).

The skinny: The Panthers were hard to gauge during the regular season, failing to score any significant wins against ranked opponents and racking up nonconference wins against an unimpressive schedule.

 

10 STANFORD

Record: 21-12, 10-8 Pac-12, tied 3d. RPI: 41.

Coach: Johnny Dawkins (sixth season, 115-86, all at Stanford; 0-0 NCAA).

Best win: 82-80 at Oregon, Jan. 12.

Worst loss: 112-103 vs. Brigham Young, Nov. 11.

Three-pointers: 37.1 percent.

Free throws: 70.3 percent.

Top three: Chasson Randle (18.7 ppg.), Dwight Powell (14.2 ppg., 6.9 rpg.), Josh Huestis (11.4 ppg., 8.3 rpg.).

The skinny: The loss listed above isn't because it was to BYU, it was for giving up 112 points to anybody on your home court. But with wins at Connecticut and Oregon and against UCLA, the Cardinal showed it was NCAA-worthy.

 

11 DAYTON

Record: 23-10, 10-6 Atlantic 10, tied 5th. RPI: 43.

Coach: Archie Miller (3d season, 60-37, all at Dayton; 0-0 NCAA).

Best win: 72-67 at St. Louis, March 5.

Worst loss: 88-76 at Rhode Island, Jan. 25.

Three-pointers: 37.8 percent.

Free throws: 68.1 percent.

Top three: Jordan Sibert (12.5 ppg., 2.2 rpg., 1.5 apg.), Devin Oliver (12.1 ppg., 7.5 rpg., 2.4 apg.), Dyshawn Pierre (11.1 ppg., 5.6 rpg.).

The skinny: This is a team without stars but with solid depth: Eight players average 13 or more minutes. Oliver earned third-team all-A-10 honors. The Flyers put themselves in good position by winning their final three regular-season games over UMass, St. Louis, and Richmond.

 

12 STEPHEN F. AUSTIN

Record: 31-2, 18-0 Southland, 1st. RPI: 52.

Coach: Brad Underwood (1st season, 31-2).

Best win: 79-69 vs. Towson, Dec. 6

Worst loss: 68-58 at East Tennessee State, Nov. 23.

Three-pointers: 34.8 percent.

Free throws: 70.8 percent.

Top three: Jacob Parker (14.2 ppg., 7.1 rpg., 2.0 apg.), Desmond Haymon (14.3 ppg., 3.7 rpg., 2.8 apg.), Thomas Walkup (12.9 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 56.3 field-goal percentage).

The skinny: Before being hired this season at the tiny school in East Texas, Underwood's previous head coaching jobs had been at the junior-college level. The Lumberjacks closed out his first season on a 28-game winning streak.

 

13 TULSA

Record: 21-12, 13-3 Conference USA, tied 1st. RPI: 74.

Coach: Danny Manning (2d season, 38-28, all at Tulsa; 0-0 NCAA).

Best win: 75-71 vs. Southern Mississippi, Jan. 12.

Worst loss: 74-68 vs. Oral Roberts, Nov. 10.

Three-pointers: 32.5 percent.

Free throws: 67.5 percent.

Top three: James Woodard (15.7 ppg., 5.8 rpg., 1.8 apg.), Rashad Smith (12.1 ppg., 4.9 rpg., 54.9 field-goal percentage), Shaquille Harrison (9.8 ppg., 3.2 apg., 3.9 rpg.).

The skinny: Manning, the hero of Kansas' 1988 title team, has the Golden Hurricane in the NCAAs for the first time since 2003. They have won their last 11 games.

 

14 WESTERN MICHIGAN

Record: 23-9, 14-4 Mid-American West, tied 1st. RPI: 66.

Coach: Steve Hawkins (11th season, 204-154, all at Western Michigan; 0-1 NCAA).

Best win: 70-64 vs. New Mexico State, Nov. 9.

Worst loss: 69-64 vs. Bowling Green, Jan. 19.

Three-pointers: 33.2 percent.

Free throws: 72.4 percent.

Top three: David Brown (19.4 ppg., 3.6 rpg., 1.4 spg.), Shayne Whittington (16.3 ppg., 9.1 rpg., 1.6 bpg.), Connar Tava (12.0 ppg., 5.8 rpg., 60.4 field-goal percentage).

The skinny: Western Michigan won 12 of its last 13 and claimed the MAC tourney title. The Broncos are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004.

 

15 EASTERN KENTUCKY

Record: 24-9, 11-5 Ohio Valley East, 2d. RPI: 96.

Coach: Jeff Neubauer (9th season, 167-121, all at Eastern Kentucky; 0-1 NCAA).

Best win: 79-73 vs. Belmont, March 8.

Worst loss: 85-79 at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Jan. 4.

Three-pointers: 39.0 percent.

Free throws: 75.1 percent.

Top three: Glenn Cosey (18.8 ppg., 4.2 apg., 42.5 three-point percentage), Corey Walden (14.1 ppg., 4.2 rpg.), Eric Stutz (8.4 ppg., 4.7 rpg., 65.6 field-goal percentage).

The skinny: The Colonels upset Belmont to win their first Ohio Valley championship since 2007, the last time they made the big dance. Eastern Kentucky has won seven straight.

 

16 ALBANY/MOUNT ST. MARY'S

ALBANY

Record: 18-14, 9-7 America East, 4th. RPI: 185.

Coach: Will Brown (13th season, 190-205, all at Albany; 0-3 NCAA).

Best win: 67-58 vs. Vermont, March 9.

Worst loss: 60-56 at New Hampshire, Jan. 23.

Three-pointers: 36.4 percent.

   MOUNT ST. MARY'S

Record: 16-16, 9-7 Northeast, 5th. RPI: 189.

Coach: Jamion Christian (2d season, 34-30; all at Mount St. Mary's; 0-0 NCAA).

Best win: 88-71 at Robert Morris, March 11.

Worst loss: 72-65 vs. Sacred Heart, Feb. 27.

Three-pointers: 35.6 percent.

 

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