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College basketball top 25 predictions

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000


1. Arizona

1999-2000 RECORD: 27-7. Tied for first in the Pac-10. Lost to Wisconsin in the NCAA West second round.

COACH: Lute Olson (422-127, 18th season; 614-219 overall).

KEY LOSSES: None.

STAR QUALITY: Loren Woods, C, 7-1 Sr. (15.6 ppg, 7.5 rpp, 3.9 bpg); Gilbert Arenas, G, 6-3 So. (15.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg); Jason Gardner, PG, 5-10 So. (12.6 ppg, 4.8 apg).

TOP NEWCOMER: Travis Hanour, G/F.

OUTLOOK: The Wildcats' motto should be, "We're back." They return all five starters, including Woods, perhaps the nation's most dominant big man, who missed the last month of the season with a back injury. He needed two surgeries, but is healthy and is the defensive key. He's surrounded by four other NBA-caliber players -- Gardner, an uncommonly poised youngster who should be even better this season, Arenas, and junior Fs Michael Wright (15.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Richard Jefferson (11.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg). Senior F Eugene Edgerson, a key member on the 1997 national title team, took last season off to complete his degree and is, what else, back for another title run.

2. Duke

1999-2000 RECORD: 29-5. Won the Atlantic Coast Conference. Lost to Florida in the NCAA East Region semifinals.

COACH: Mike Krzyzewski (498-160, 21st season; 571-219 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Chris Carrawell, F (16.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.2 apg.; ACC player of the year).

STAR QUALITY: Shane Battier, F, 6-8 Sr. (17.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg); Jason Williams, PG/G, 6-2 So. (14.5 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4.2 rpg); Carlos Boozer, C, 6-9 So. (13.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMER: Chris Duhon, G.

OUTLOOK: The Blue Devils won't be lacking firepower. Again. Besides Battier, a national player of the year candidate, Williams and Boozer, fifth-year senior guard Nate James (11.0 ppg) and sophomore swingman Mike Dunleavy (9.1 ppg) make them a bedeviling group to try to defend. Now they can throw in Duhon, the Morgan Wootten national prep player of the year who should assume a chunk of the playmaking duties and let Williams shoot first, pass second. But in last season's NCAA Tournament, the Blue Devils were done in partly by their lack of depth and that could again be their Achilles' heal. Sophomore shot-blocker Casey Sanders, a former Tampa Prep standout, needs to blossom.

3. Maryland

1999-2000 RECORD: 25-10. Second in the ACC. Lost to UCLA in the NCAA Midwest Region second round.

COACH: Gary Williams (217-128, 12th season; 424-256 overall).

KEY LOSSES: None.

STAR QUALITY: Terence Morris, F, 6-9 Sr. (15.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg); Juan Dixon, G, 6-3 Jr. (18.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.6 apg); Lonny Baxter, F/C, 6-8 Jr. (15.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Chris Wilcox, F/C; Bryon Mouton, G/F.

OUTLOOK: The Terrapins return all five starters, including two first-team All-ACC selections (Dixon and Baxter), a second-teamer who was a first-team pick in 1998-99 (Morris) and a member of the league's all-freshman team (PG Steve Blake). That's the group that actually beat Duke in hallowed Cameron Indoor Stadium. But the Terps have a maddening penchant for fizzling out come March Madness. That should end if Dixon's and Baxter's breakout seasons weren't flukes, if Wilcox, a prospect from Tobacco Road, Mouton, another scorer who transferred from Tulane, contribute as hoped, and if Morris consistently plays with a passion that befits a potential NBA lottery pick.

4. Michigan State

1999-2000 RECORD: 32-7. Tied for first in the Big Ten. Beat Florida to win the NCAA championship.

COACH: Tom Izzo (120-48, sixth season).

KEY LOSSES: Mateen Cleaves, PG (12.1 ppg, 6.9 apg); Morris Peterson, F (16.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg); A.J. Granger, F (9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Charlie Bell, G, 6-3 Sr. (11.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.2 apg); Andre Hutson, F/C, 6-8 Sr. (10.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg); Jason Richardson, F/G, 6-6 So. (5.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Zach Randolph, C; Marcus Taylor, PG.

OUTLOOK: The defending champion Spartans would figure to tumble back toward the pack with the loss of Cleaves, the gritty offensive and defensive catalyst, the smooth-shooting Mo Pete and the savvy Granger, who provided timely three-point shooting. Well, Izzo was so excited about his nucleus and freshmen Randolph and Taylor that he spurned the NBA's Atlanta Hawks to stay put. Randolph, who starred with Richardson on the U.S. under-20 national team, has an NBA body (6-9, 270 pounds) and looks ready to dominate. Taylor merely is hailed as the best prospect out of East Lansing since Magic Johnson.

5. Stanford

1999-2000 RECORD: 27-4. Tied for first in the Pac-10. Lost to North Carolina in NCAA South Region second round.

COACH: Mike Montgomery (288-143, 15th season; 442-220 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Mark Madsen, F (12.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg); David Moseley, G (13.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Casey Jacobsen, G/F, 6-6 So. (14.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 43.5 3FG percentage); Jarron Collins, F, 6-10 Sr. (11.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Jason Collins, C, 6-11 So. (8.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMER: Justin Davis, F.

OUTLOOK: The Cardinal will miss the intensity and floor burns of "Mad Dog" Madsen, but it has a true star in Jacobsen, a potentially formidable low-post duo in the Collins twins who finally should be able to start together, and another sharpshooter in senior swingman Ryan Mendez (9.7 ppg, 42.0 3FG percentage). Senior PG Michael McDonald needs to live up to his hype and provide the penetrating ability a la former playmakers Brevin Knight and Arthur Lee. Once again, Montgomery has plenty of quality reserves who understand their roles, including Davis, a redshirt freshman, and shot-blocking sophomore C Curtis Borchardt.

6. North Carolina

1999-2000 RECORD: 22-14. Tied for third in the ACC. Lost to Florida in the NCAA Final Four.

COACH: Matt Doherty (first season; 22-15 overall).

KEY LOSS: Ed Cota, PG (10.1 ppg, 8.1 apg).

STAR QUALITY: Joseph Forte, G, 6-4 So. (16.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.6 apg); Brendan Haywood, C, 7-0 Sr. (13.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 69.7 FG percentage); Jason Capel, F, 6-8 Jr. (12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Adam Boone, PG; Brian Morrison, G/PG; Neil Fingleton, C.

OUTLOOK: Forte, the first freshman to lead UNC in scoring, emerged as a shooting star as the Tar Heels shed the "underachiever" tag in the NCAA. But he may have to assume more of the playmaking role if Boone and/or Morrison struggle to replace Cota, who finished as the NCAA's No. 3 all-time assist man (1,030). The frontline -- bolstered by the return of junior F/C Brian Bersticker and F Julius Peppers once football season ends -- is as talented and deep as any. The key could be Doherty, a surprise hire after Roy Williams declined the job. He's fiery, more so than the laid-back Bill Guthridge, and the Heels lacked that ingredient at times last season.

7. Illinois

1999-2000 RECORD: 22-10. Fourth in the Big Ten. Lost to Florida in the NCAA East Region second round.

COACH: Bill Self (first season; 130-80 overall).

KEY LOSS: Cleotis Brown, G/F (7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Cory Bradford, G, 6-3 Jr. (15.3 ppg); Frank Williams, PG, 6-3 So. (11.4 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.4 rpg); Marcus Griffin, F, 6-9 Sr. (10.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Brett Melton, F; Nick Smith, C.

OUTLOOK: Self guided Tulsa, a team without much star power or much size, to the brink of the Final Four last season. Can you imagine what he might do with one of the nation's most talented starting quartets? Well, he likes to press and run. On paper, his group should prosper. But somehow Williams must find consistency. Griffin, coming back off knee surgery, must stay healthy. Sophomore PF Brian Cook (9.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) can't disappear as he did in the NCAA Tournament, scoring just two points against Penn and Florida. It would help if Smith, the former Bloomingdale High star who considered transferring when coach Lon Kruger left, develops quickly to give the Illini needed inside depth.

8. Tennessee

1999-2000 RECORD: 26-7. Tied for first in the Southeastern Conference East. Lost to North Carolina in the NCAA South Region second round.

COACH: Jerry Green (67-25, fourth season; 289-202 overall).

KEY LOSS: C.J. Black, F (9.3 ppg 5.3 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Vincent Yarbrough, F, 6-7 Jr. (14.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.5 apg); Tony Harris, G, 6-0 Sr. (14.8 ppg, 4.0 apg); Isiah Victor, F, 6-9 Sr. (9.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Jenis Grindstaff, G/PG; Andy Ikeakor, F.

OUTLOOK: The Volunteers could at times look like world beaters and at other times, well ... Much of that inconsistency rested with Harris, who can shoot his team to a win as easily as he can shoot it out of any game. He hit 1 of 10 field goals in the NCAA loss to UNC. But when he's on, the Vols have plenty of talent. Yarbrough could be a NBA lottery pick, and Victor and sophomore F Ron Slay (9.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg) can be brilliant. A key could be how well Grindstaff plays. The former Big East rookie of the year from Virginia Tech suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener. While Jon Higgins was reliable at PG, Grindstaff is a likely upgrade offensively and would take more pressure off Harris as a scorer and a distributor.

9. Seton Hall

1999-2000 RECORD: 22-10. Tied for fourth in the Big East. Lost to Oklahoma State in the NCAA East Region semifinal.

COACH: Tommy Amaker (52-40, fourth season).

KEY LOSSES: Shaheen Holloway, PG (13.2 ppg, 5.6 apg, 5.1 rpg); Rimas Kaukenas, G (13.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Darius Lane, G, 6-4 Jr. (15.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg); Samuel Dalembert, C, 6-11 So. (6.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.6 bpg); Ty Shine, PG, 6-0 Jr. (7.8 ppg, 2.0 apg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Eddie Griffin, F; Marcus Toney-El, F/G; Andre Barrett, PG.

OUTLOOK: Expectations haven't been this high since, well, maybe ever. Sorry P.J. Carlesimo. Although the Pirates lost their star PG, Holloway, and their three-point specialist, Kaukenas, Amaker plucked the prep ranks for plenty of gems, beginning with Griffin. He was the nation's consensus top player, blending power and a three-point shooting touch. Put him alongside Dalembert, an intimidating defensive presence, and Lane and the Pirates have plenty of punch. As for the backcourt, remember that Shine filled in for an injured Holloway against Temple in the NCAA Tournament and responded with 26 points on 7-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Amaker also added Toney-El, a touted prospect in his own right, and a sophomore G Desmond Herod, a sharpshooting transfer from UNLV (34.8 3PT FG percentage). Yo ho.

10. Florida

1999-2000 RECORD: 29-8. Tied for first in the SEC East. Lost to Michigan State in the NCAA championship game.

COACH: Billy Donovan (78-49, fifth season; 113-69 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Mike Miller, F (14.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.5 apg); Donnell Harvey, F (10.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg); Kenyan Weaks, G (10.0 ppg, 41.5 3PT FG percentage).

STAR QUALITY: Udonis Haslem, C, 6-7 Jr. (11.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Teddy Dupay, G, 5-10 Jr. (8.6 ppg, 2.6 apg, 39.0 3PT FG percentage); Brett Nelson, G, 6-3 So. (8.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 43.4 3PT FG percentage).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Orien Greene, G; Bonell Colas, F.

OUTLOOK: After a surprising run to the championship game, the young Gators might have been a consensus preseason No. 1 or No. 2 had Miller and Harvey not bolted early for the NBA. But they did, and the Gators aren't. Of course, no one's shedding tears, crocodile or otherwise. The Gators return an experienced nucleus and one of the nation's better post players in Haslem. Although undersized, he's wide and powerful and has a nice jump hook. They also have a stable of interchangeable guards with Dupay, Nelson, Justin Hamilton, Major Parker and LaDarius Halton, who's back after sitting out with a knee injury. Greene, one of the nation's top prospects who was declared eligible, only will make opponents green with envy.

11. Kansas

1999-2000 RECORD: 24-10. Fifth in the Big 12. Lost to Duke in the NCAA East Region second round.

COACH: Roy Williams (329-82, 13th season).

KEY LOSS: Nick Bradford, G/F (7.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.4 apg).

STAR QUALITY: Kenny Gregory, F/G, 6-5 Sr. (12.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Nick Collison, F, 6-9 So. (10.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg); Drew Gooden, F, 6-9 So. (10.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Bryant Nash, F; Mario Kinsey, G.

OUTLOOK: Williams seemed headed to Chapel Hill to succeed Bill Guthridge, but he shockingly passed on the dream job; he couldn't leave his Jayhawk players and now we'll see if his loyalty will be rewarded with the school's first Final Four since 1993. The pieces could be there. In addition to Gregory, Collison, Gooden and sophomore PG Kirk Hinrich (5.5 ppg, 3.6 apg), there's sharpshooters Luke Axtell and Jeff Boschee and 7-1, 260-pound senior C Eric Chenowith. But all three were inconsistent and lost their starting jobs. All three, especially the underachieving Chenowith, need to live up to expectations or Williams may be kicking himself.

12. Kentucky

1999-00 RECORD: 23-10. Tied for first in the SEC East. Lost to Syracuse in the NCAA Midwest Region second round.

COACH: Tubby Smith (86-23, fourth season; 210-85 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Jamaal Magloire, C (13.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg); Desmond Allison, G (7.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.4 apg); Jules Camara, F (7.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Tayshaun Prince, F/G, 6-9 Jr. (13.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg); Keith Bogans, G/F, 6-5 So. (12.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Marquis Estill, F; Jason Parker, F; Erik Daniels, F/G; Gerald Fitch, G; Cliff Hawkins, PG.

OUTLOOK: The Wildcats entered last season's NCAA Tournament cast in the unfamiliar role -- and unacceptable for die-hards in Lexington -- of David and not Goliath. With Magloire in the NBA and the school's zero-tolerance policy for alcohol-related offenses costing them Allison, the former Tampa Robinson star who transferred to a Division III school in Tennessee, and Camara, fans feared that billing wouldn't change. Relax. Reinforcements have arrived. Estill, who sat out as a partial qualfier last season, and Parker, the standout who couldn't get into North Carolina, figure to complement Prince, a rising star, the physically imposing and sometimes spectacular Bogans and experienced senior PG Saul Smith. If sophomore C Marvin Stone (4.6 ppg, 3.8 apg) improves, UK could go wild in March.

13. Southern California

1999-2000 RECORD: 16-14. Sixth in the Pac-10.

COACH: Henry Bibby (57-57, fifth season).

KEY LOSSES: None.

STAR QUALITY: Brian Scalabrine, F/C, 6-9 Sr. (17.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 40.3 3PT FG percentage); David Bluthenthal, F, 6-7 Jr. (13.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg); Brandon Granville, PG, 5-9 Jr. (13.1 ppg, 8.3 apg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Robert Hutchinson, PG; Desmon Farmer, G; Gennaro Busterna, G/F.

OUTLOOK: Not many teams have a better, more experienced starting five than the Trojans. Yet they had little depth behind Scalabrine, Bluthenthal, junior forward Sam Clancy (15.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg), the unheralded Granville and high-flying senior G Jeff Trepagnier (15.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 38.0 3PT FG percentage), and an injury to Clancy led to a late-season swoon that cost them a post-season berth. Bibby added three guards, including a pair of junior college transfers in Hutchinson, from Okaloosa-Walton, and Busterna, from McCook (Neb). If they can stay healthy, the Trojans look like a NCAA lock. But Bluthenthal already has had arthroscopic knee surgery and Hutchinson broke the small finger on his right hand. An omen?

14. Missouri

1999-2000 RECORD: 18-13. Sixth in the Big 12. Lost to North Carolina in the NCAA South Region first round.

COACH: Quin Snyder (18-13, second season).

KEY LOSS: Keyon Dooling, PG (15.3 ppg, 3.6 apg).

STAR QUALITY: Kareem Rush, F, 6-6 So. (14.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 42.6 3PT FG percentage); Clarence Gilbert, G, 6-2 Jr. (13.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.3 apg); T.J. Soyoye, F/C, 6-9 Sr. (8.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Arthur Johnson, C; Rickey Paulding, G; Wesley Stokes, PG.

OUTLOOK: Snyder, the former Duke star guard and assistant, brought a Blue Devil-like up-tempo scheme west and it carried his team north. Though the Tigers lacked big bodies and then were without Rush for a chunk of the season, they relied on their bevy of quick perimeter players and the three-point shot; the Tigers led the Big 12 with 804 attempts. With Rush and Gilbert, that's the strength of the team again, even though Dooling is in the NBA. A big change is another big man. The 6-9, 245-pound Johnson will be counted on heavily, especially until Travon Bryant, a McDonald's All-American, is academically eligible in late December.

15. Notre Dame

1999-2000 RECORD: 22-15. Tied for sixth in the Big East. Lost to Wake Forest in the NIT championship game.

COACH: Mike Brey (first season; 99-52 overall).

KEY LOSS: Jimmy Dillon, PG (4.0 ppg, 5.8 apg).

STAR QUALITY: Troy Murphy, F, 6-10 Jr. (22.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg); David Graves, F, 6-6 Jr. (13.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 45.6 3PT FG percentage); Matt Carroll, G, 6-6 So. (9.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Ryan Humphrey, F; Torrian Jones, PG.

OUTLOOK: When Matt Doherty unexpectedly left to take over North Carolina, former Delaware coach Brey inherited a talented team with arguably the nation's top player -- Murphy. The All-America do-everything forward who eschewed the NBA draft will again be the focal point and he has help with Graves, Carroll and senior transfer Humphrey, a former Big 12 all-conference pick at Oklahoma. But whether or not the Irish make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990 -- Digger Phelps was the coach and LaPhonso Ellis his star -- Brey will need to find a replacement for Dillon. Senior Martin Inglesby started at PG two seasons ago, but Jones and fellow freshman Chris Markwood will vie for time. If all else fails, maybe Murphy can do it.

16. Cincinnati

1999-2000 RECORD: 29-4. First in Conference USA. Lost to Tulsa in the NCAA South Region second round.

COACH: Bob Huggins (276-86, 12th season; 444-158 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Kenyon Martin, F/C (18.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 3.4 bpg); Pete Mickeal, F (13.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg); DerMarr Johnson, G (12.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Ryan Fletcher, F (7.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg); Jermaine Tate, F/C (4.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Kenny Satterfield, PG, 6-2 So. (9.2 ppg, 5.4 apg, 3.4 rpg); Steve Logan, G, 6-0 Jr. (9.8 ppg, 3.6 apg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Antwan Jones, F; Field Williams, G; Jamaal Davis, F.

OUTLOOK: The Bearcats might have won the national title, or at least reached the Final Four, were it not for the loss of consensus national player of the year and future No. 1 draft pick Martin in the C-USA tournament. So, how in the world do the Bearcats replace him, Mickeal and Johnson, who bolted for the NBA after a dazzling freshman season? Well, Huggins, who spurned NBA offers himself, dipped into the junior college ranks and found Jones at Tallahassee Community College. He looks like the Bearcats' next star. Huggins also has a stable of ball-handlers with Satterfield and Logan and an abundance of size with sophomore Cs Donald Little and B.J. Grove as well as sophomore F Eugene Land, back from knee surgery.

17. Iowa

1999-2000 RECORD: 14-16. Tied for seventh in the Big Ten.

COACH: Steve Alford (14-16, second season; 170-93 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Jacob Jaacks, C (12.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg); Rob Griffin, F (12.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Dean Oliver, PG, 5-11 Sr. (13.6 ppg, 4.2 apg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Luke Recker, G/F; Reggie Evans, F; Jared Reiner, C; Sean Sonderleiter, C; Glen Worley, F.

OUTLOOK: Alford didn't exactly inherit a talent-laden group, although it had its moments last season (see wins against Connecticut, Kansas and Wisconsin), so job No. 1 in the off-season was to lure a top-shelf recruiting class. He did it. Of course, he had a head start with the transfer of Recker, a former two-time all-conference pick from Indiana by way of Arizona. He is a versatile, experienced scorer. Alford then landed the 6-8, 245-pound Evans, one of the nation's top junior college transfers, as well as the 6-11, 250-pound Reiner, South Dakota's top prepster, and Worley, Iowa's top player.

18. Alabama

COACH: Mark Gottfried (30-21, third season; 98-55 overall)

KEY LOSS: Schea Cotton, G (15.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Rod Grizzard, G, 6-8 So. (13.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Terrance Meade, G, 6-2 So. (11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 42.3 3PT FG percentage); Erwin Dudley, F/C, 6-8 So. (10.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMER: Gerald Wallace, F.

OUTLOOK: Gottfried went with youth last season and, while Grizzard, Meade and Dudley couldn't lead the injury-riddled team to the post-season, the Tide might be just rolling back in now. The extensive playing time should only help the trio, especially Grizzard, who has the makings of a superstar. He's too tall for many guards to defend and too quick for forwards. But it's not as if Alabama will have to rely solely on them. Senior C Jeremy Hays suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game last season. If he regains his form from two seasons ago (12.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg), the Tide should be solid inside. Oh, did we mention Wallace? The 6-7 freshman was the Naismith high school player of the year.

19. UCLA

1999-2000 RECORD: 21-12. Tied for fourth in the Pac-10. Lost to Iowa State in the NCAA Midwest Region semifinal.

COACH: Steve Lavin (91-38, sixth season).

KEY LOSSES: Jerome Moiso, F (13.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg); JaRon Rush, F (12.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Jason Kapono, F/G, 6-7 So. (16.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 47.4 3PT FG percentage); Earl Watson, PG, 6-1 Sr. (11.4 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.9 rpg); Dan Gadzuric, C, 6-11 Jr. (9.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMER: T.J. Cummings, F; Josiah Johnson, F.

OUTLOOK: The heat could be on Lavin if the Bruins are as schizophrenic as last season. At times, they looked mediocre (just ask Arizona State, which embarrassed them by 29 points) and at other times looked like world beaters (just ask Maryland, which was embarrassed by 35 points in the NCAA Tournament). Sharpshooting swingman Kapono nearly bolted for the NBA but pulled out of the draft to give the Bruins a star to build around. Freshmen Cummings and Johnson should help if they play anything like their dads, former NBA stars Terry and Marques, respectively.

20. Virginia

1999-2000 RECORD: 19-12. Tied for third in the ACC. Lost to Georgetown in the NIT first round.

COACH: Pete Gillen (33-28, third season; 307-156 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Willie Dersch, F (3.9 ppg); Colin Ducharme, C (2.1 ppg).

STAR QUALITY: Chris Williams, F, 6-7 Jr. (15.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg); Donald Hand, PG, 5-11 Sr. (15.0 ppg, 4.3 apg); Travis Watson, F/C, 6-7 (11.4 ppg, 8.3 ppg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Maurice Young, F/G; J.C. Mathis, F.

OUTLOOK: The Cavaliers were incensed they didn't receive an at-large NCAA bid last season. They tied for third in the perennially powerful ACC with North Carolina and beat the Tar Heels twice. Yes, they played a weak non-conference schedule, but the perceived snub should fuel this fast-paced team this season. Hey, they need the extra juice. They remain one of the smaller teams around -- Watson, a natural power forward, and Williams, a natural small forward, are out of position -- and that showed in rebounding (a minus-2.3 margin, last in the ACC). That means a smaller margin for error and more pressure on the Cavs' shooters.

21. Wisconsin

1999-2000 RECORD: 22-14. Sixth in the Big Ten. Lost to Michigan State in the NCAA Final Four.

COACH: Dick Bennett (91-68, sixth season; 451-257 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Jon Bryant, G (8.2 ppg, 39.2 3PT FG percentage); Duany Duany, G (5.2 ppg, 39.2 3PT FG percentage).

STAR QUALITY: Mark Vershaw, F, 6-9 Sr. (11.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 52.5 3PT FG percentage); Mike Kelley, PG, 6-3 Sr. (5.0 ppg, 3.2 apg); Andy Kowske, F, 6-8 Sr. (9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Ricky Bower, G; Michael Wilkinson, F.

OUTLOOK: Say what you will about the Badgers' slow-down, in-your-face defensive style. Yes, it's a throwback. Yes, it's kind of ugly. And yes, it's effective. They will once again be a tough team to beat if for no other reason than their often frustrating scheme, spearheaded by defensive wizard Kelley, will keep the score down. Way down. Vershaw is a standout offensively, but the Badgers have few other options. Bryant and Duany were two of their better three-point shooters, guys who forced opponents to work for the full 35 seconds or else. The Badgers just don't have athletes who can beat guys off the dribble. But how many points will they really have to score?

22. Connecticut

1999-2000 RECORD: 25-10. Fourth in the Big East. Lost to Tennessee in the NCAA South Region second round.

COACH: Jim Calhoun (329-130, 15th season; 579-267 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Khalid El-Amin, PG (16.0 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.1 rpg); Jake Voskuhl, C (8.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg); Kevin Freeman, F (11.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Albert Mourning, G (13.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 47.8 3PT FG percentage).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Taliek Brown, PG; Johnnie Selvie, F; Caron Butler, F; Robert Swain, G.

OUTLOOK: UConn, on paper, seemed like it had a legitimate shot to repeat last season, but the experienced Huskies struggled with chemistry problems and imploded. Now comes a fresh start for Calhoun, who for the first time in years lacks a player of All-America ilk. Mourning, however, isn't too shabby. He quietly led the Big East in three-point shooting. Much could hinge on how quickly Brown, a freshman from New York City, adjusts to Division I-A basketball. Selvie, a junior college transfer, adds tenacity and muscle, but the Huskies need senior C Wane Souleymane and junior F/C Ajou Deng to live up to their advance billing.

23. Wake Forest

1999-2000 RECORD: 22-14. Fifth in the ACC. Beat Notre Dame to win the NIT.

COACH: Dave Odom (221-121, 12th season; 259-163 overall).

KEY LOSS: Niki Arinze, F/G (5.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Darius Songaila, F, 6-9 Jr. (13.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg); Robert O'Kelley, G/PG, 6-1 Sr. (13.0 ppg, 2.4 apg); Josh Howard, F, 6-6 So. (9.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: A.W. Hamilton, PG; Dshamal Schoetz, C.

OUTLOOK: The Demon Deacons looked like a NCAA Tournament team in December, starting 8-1. They then lost six of seven and, after some sniping in the locker room, righted themselves in the NIT. Part of that resurgence rested with the play of O'Kelley, who regained his touch and was named the NIT MVP, an encouraging sign for this season. Down the stretch, Odom went with Ervin Murray at point guard and while competent, Hamilton, a true point guard out of the Hargrave Military Academy, should help shore up that key spot.

24. Utah

COACH: Rick Majerus (261-73, 12th season; 360-125 overall)

KEY LOSSES: Hanno Mottola, F (17.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg); Alex Jensen, F (13.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.1 apg); Tony Harvey, G (9.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg); Jeremy Killion, PG (9.1 ppg).

STAR QUALITY: Britton Johnsen, F, 6-9 So. (key reserve on 1998 Final Four team, back from Mormon mission); Nate Althoff, C, 6-11 Sr. (9.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Chris Burgess, C; Travis Spivey, PG; Kevin Bradley, G.

OUTLOOK: It may seem like Majerus prepared for this season like a bride for her wedding: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Johnsen, a former McDonald's All-American, flashed his potential as a freshman, but you can expect some rust after a two-year layoff. Same goes for sophomore swingman Trace Caton, who's also back after a mission. Redshirt freshman G Nick Jacobsen was a former Mr. Basketball finalist from Minnesota and may get his shot this season. As for the old, well, Majerus brought junior college standouts Spivey, a former Georgia Tech starter, and Bradley. Burgess used to wear Duke blue as part of the Blue Devils' Fab Four class (Elton Brand, William Avery and Shane Battier), but transferred before last season. If this collection comes together, it could be a fine marriage.

25. DePaul

1999-2000 RECORD: 21-12. Third in C-USA American. Lost to Kansas in the NCAA East Region first round.

COACH: Pat Kennedy (46-48, fourth season; 372-239 overall).

KEY LOSSES: Quentin Richardson, G/F (17.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg); Paul McPherson, G (11.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg).

STAR QUALITY: Bobby Simmons, F/G, 6-7 Jr. (13.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg); Lance Williams, C/F, 6-9 Jr. (6.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg); Rashon Burno, PG, 5-7 Jr. (6.7 ppg, 4.6 apg).

TOP NEWCOMERS: Jon Oden, F; Andre Brown, F; Imari Sawyer, PG/G.

OUTLOOK: Had Q stayed and not declared early for the NBA, there might not be so many question marks. But Kennedy has a solid nucleus, especially upfront with Simmons, Williams, who should bounce back and put up numbers more akin to his freshman season (13.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg), and promising 7-0 sophomore C Steven Hunter (8.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg). Kennedy, the former Florida State coach who's renowned for his recruiting, also has Oden, eligible after sitting out last season, and Brown, a member of the United States gold-medal winning World Youth Games team.

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