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Image 27 of The Cats' Pause, March 12, 1988

Part of The Cats' Pause

March/2, /?o°o° £7h& (ja//i' &cu(A& Looking At Possible NCAA Tourney Teams SEC Should Get 5, Maybe 6, In 64-Team Field March Madness—CBS Sports has been promoting it during every college basketball game since February. It's certainly the type of inspiration any college hoop junkie relishes. As usual, the NCAA loves it because of all the tremendous revenue and growing popularity it brings every season. This season will be especially appealing because of the advent of parity that has in- 0k Todd Hallum Cats' Pause Columnist nitrated college basketball. Since the middle of February, the pre-tournament favorites have already come to the forefront. Temple, Arizona, Purdue and Oklahoma have been installed as the favorites to make the journey to Kansas City in April. However, keep in mind that conference tournaments have yet to be completed and none of these teams has ever had much success in the NCAA tournament. In fact, of the foursome, only Oklahoma has ever reached the tournament's final eight since the year 1981. Who will reach the Final Four is anybody's guess. However, one thing is for certain: Anybody who enters the office pools around the country for the NCAA tournament will certainly be getting his money's worth this year. So without further notice, let's take a peek at who might or might not be invited to this season's tournament with a breakdown of the eligible candidates from every major conference in the country. Keep in mind a short cut will be taken for the token bids given out to the representatives of the smaller conferences, because despite the parity, they don't stand much of a chance anyway. SOUTHEASTERN: If all goes well, barring an upset in the SEC tourney, five, if not six, league school's will be participating in the NCAA's this season. UK, Vandy, Florida, Auburn and probably LSU will make it. Tennessee definitely slit its own throat this season—it could have played better at home. One possible sleeper team who Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps likes to make some noise in the tourney is Vanderbilt. Phelps said after his team lost to Vandy in South Bend that the 'Dores have an excellent chance this season of finishing in the final eight. ATLANTIC COAST: No more than five representatives will reach the NCAA's this season. North Carolina, Duke. N.C. State and Georgia Tech are solid locks, while Maryland is on the bubble. However, keep in mind that the Terps have played one of the tougher schedules in the country and have beaten Arkansas and South Carolina. Also, close losses on the road to North Carolina and LSU will play very heavily on the the minds of the members of the selection committee. The team to watch, however, is N.C. State. Jimmy Valvano seems to always have the Wolfpack clicking at the right time—during the NCAA tournament—and his team is playing its best ball of the season at this time. The front line of Charles Shackleford and Chuckie Brown has improved tremendously over the course of the season, and Chris Corchiani and Vinny Del Negro give the Wolfpack the type of backcourt that can play well under the tournament atmosphere. BIG TEN: In January, this conference looked to be a sure bet to send six representatives. However, both Ohio State and Indiana have struggled of late. Indiana will more than likely get in while the door has just about been slammed for Gary Williams' squad at Ohio State. Purdue, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa should be spread to each of the four regions by the selection committee. Purdue appears to be the best team to represent the Big Ten, however. Gene Keady's squad must get over the preliminary-round jinx which has been haunting it. Two years ago LSU upset Purdue in Baton Rouge, while last year it was Florida. With four senior starters, I'm sure Keady is definitely looking for that to change. BIG EAST: This conference seems to be the only league in the country that is worthy of sending at least six teams to the tournament. Pitt, Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's and Seton Hall should make it. Though Pitt and Syracuse will get most of the publicity when the tourney gets underway March 17, I've got a feeling Villanova might make some noise and possibly bring back memories of the 1985 championship team. 'Nova doesn't have overpowering size but has the type of team that can do well under tournament pressure and the much-experienced coach in Rollie Massimino. With any luck of the draw, don't be too surprised if 'Nova makes a regional final somewhere. BIG EIGHT: Five teams should be invited this season in what has been one of the conference's better balanced races it's had in years. Of course, Oklahoma has all the horses to reach Kansas City, but consistency has always been a problem for any Billy Tubbs-coached club. For some reason, the Sooners can become a completely different club while not playing games at home. Meanwhile, Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State and Missouri should round out the rest of the league's representatives. One team to keep an eye out for is Iowa State. Though Johnny Orr's club has struggled with a losing streak midway through the season, this team has also lost ot of close games. Orr's clubs have played well in the past during NCAA play, and this season might be no different behind the dynamic play of All-American Jeff Grayer. METRO: Denny Crum can throw away the crying towel this season as the Cardinals earned their way this season by winning the Metro regular-season title. Probation ruins the chances of Virginia Tech and South Carolina, while Memphis State, Southern Miss and Florida State are teams on the bubble. WESTERN ATHLETIC: The most improved conference in the nation should have at least four, if not five, reps this season. BYU, New Mexico, Wyoming and UTEP have already earned 20 victories. Utah, on the other hand, is on the bubble. Colorado State has a slim chance. Why do I get the feeling no WAC team will do well in the tournament this season? Sure, BYU has had its moments this season, but the Cougars did lose to Hawaii. Wyoming has been a minor disappointment and UTEP's schedule is not very tough. SOUTHWEST: Arkansas, SMU and Baylor are the only three teams that can really be considered. Both Arkansas and SMU will probably receive bids. Baylor will probably win 20 games, but its schedule is just so-so. Texas and Houston are long shots at best. From the looks of things, don't be surprised to see some more early eliminations from this conference again this year. MISSOURI VALLEY: Bradley and "The Hersey Hawkins Show" will be in full force this March. Meanwhile, Wichita State should get the league's second bid. SUN BELT: UNC Charlotte and Virginia Commonwealth have good chances. Old Dominion has to be considered. With 14 losses, UAB has to win the postseason tournament. PACIFIC COAST: UNLV and UC-Santa Barbara will get in. Utah State and Long Beach State are on the bubble. Keep an eye out for the Gauchos from Santa Barbara. Coach Jerry Pimm has previous NCAA coaching experience and his team has gone relatively unnoticed this season, despite beating UNLV twice. Pimm worked wonders with a Cinderella Utah team a couple of years ago in the West Regional. PAC-10: Arizona. However, Oregon State and Stanford have to be given a look by the committee However, only Arizona is capable of winning over two games in the tourney. INDEPENDENTS: DePaul, and probably Notre Dame, should receive invitations. Akron has already won 20 games, but has a nothing schedule. ? ? ? UK NOTEBOOK: One player the UK coaching staff might regret redshirting is 6-7 forward Deron Feldhaus from Mason County. Feldhaus has developed his skills much faster than the staff anticipated. Feldhaus has worked extremely hard in improving his game UK Redshirt Freshman Deron Feldhaus Impresses Vandy's Newton both during the offseason and in practice. In fact, Vandy coach CM. Newton has indicated that he probably would be a starter for the Commodores this season, had he chosen to play in Nashville rather than Lexington. Some reports from former UK players who have played against the UK freshman during pickup games reveal that he has the body and shooting touch to be a key contributor for the rest of his Wildcat career. . .Former Wildcat guards [Continued On Page 28]

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