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March 16, 2008

THE PARTICULARS

Most overseeded: A case can be made that Oregon doesn't belong in the field at all and the Ducks are seeded ninth. Their RPI is 58th, they're 4-9 vs. RPI top-50 teams and they went 6-6 down the stretch. Miami at No. 7 may be a spot too high. The Hurricanes didn't do that much away from home and 13 of their wins came against teams ranked worse than 100th in the RPI. They also lost to Winthrop.

Most underseeded: Given how well Kentucky played down the stretch, the Wildcats could make a case that they should be a No. 9 or a No. 10 instead of an 11. They come in having won nine of their past 12, but one of those losses was to Georgia in the SEC Tournament.

Best player: Guard D.J. Augustin, Texas. Kevin Durant is gone, which means Augustin has had a chance to shine. He's averaging almost 20 points per game, has an almost 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, is hitting better than 38 percent of his 3-pointers and almost 80 percent of his free throws. In short no pun intended the 6-foot sophomore has become one of the best guards in the nation.

Best player you've never heard of: G/F Dionte Christmas, Temple. The Owls have become more offensive-minded under second-year coach Fran Dunphy, and that switch has benefited Christmas the most. He has good size (6-5/205), has a nice 3-point stroke and is strong and quick enough to get into the lane and finish. He also is one of the Owls' best rebounders.

Best first-round matchups: Despite the fact that Oregon may not belong in the field, the Ducks' first-round game with Mississippi State should be a nice contrast in styles. The Ducks want to run, while Mississippi State will be content to play a grind-it-out affair. The Bulldogs win with brawn, the Ducks with finesse. If Christmas is hot for Temple, the Owls can upset Michigan State, which hasn't played consistently well this season. The Miami-Saint Mary's matchup is a chance for the little guy to beat an ACC team. Miami's backcourt has problems with turnovers. Saint Mary's guards play excellent defense on the perimeter.

MCCLELLAN'S PICKS

First round: Memphis, Texas, Stanford, Pitt, Michigan State, Marquette, Mississippi State, Saint Mary's.
Second round: Memphis, Texas, Stanford, Pitt.
Sweet 16: Texas, Pitt.
Final Four Pick: Texas.

HUGUENIN'S PICKS

First round: Memphis, Texas, Stanford, Pitt, Michigan State, Marquette, Mississippi State, Saint Mary's.
Second round: Memphis, Texas, Stanford, Pitt.
Sweet 16: Texas, Pitt.
Final Four Pick: Texas.

THE BUZZ

Texas could play in Houston in the third and fourth rounds and in San Antonio in the Final Four. The last time the Longhorns played in their home state in the third and fourth rounds, they advanced to the Final Four in 2003. Cornell is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988. That's also the last time the Ivy League was not represented by Penn or Princeton. Cornell's best player is sophomore swingman Ryan Wittman, the son of former Indiana star Randy Wittman. UT Arlington is making its first NCAA appearance; it is one of four teams in the field that is doing so. Saint Mary's has four Australians on its roster. The best is freshman point guard Patrick Mills. This is the first time Temple has made the NCAA tournament without John Chaney on the sideline since 1979. Temple is making its first NCAA appearance since 2001, and ironically its first-round opponent is the team that eliminated it in the Elite Eight seven years ago, Michigan State. This is the Spartans' 11th consecutive appearance. They haven't been better than a No. 5 seed in any of their past seven trips. One of Austin Peay's assistants is former Governors star Bubba Wells, who played for a few seasons in the NBA. This is Memphis' third consecutive 30-victory season. This is the fourth consecutive 20-victory season for Oral Roberts and the Golden Eagles' third consecutive NCAA berth. They're coached by Scott Sutton, one of Eddie's sons. Miami is making its first NCAA appearance since 2002. The Hurricanes' leading scorer is Jack McClinton, who began his career at Siena. He is one of two former Siena players who leads his NCAA tourney team in scoring; the other is Al Fisher at Kent State. Incidentally, Siena is in the field as well, as the No. 13 seed in the Midwest.

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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