Volume 91, Issue 86

Thursday, March 12, 1998

3,770 strong and growing


There's mayhem in the Midwest

The Midwest may be the weakest of the four divisions, which will likely prove favourable for the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks.

After spending all but one week of last season as the No.1 team in the nation, the Jayhawks were the only top-seeded team that failed to reach the Final Four, after the upset by eventual tourney winners, the Arizona Wildcats.

One year later, future NBA stars Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce, plus the rest of the Jayhawks, are more experienced and won't have the added pressure of being the No.1 ranked team coming into the tourney. LaFrentz, however, is nursing a sore shoulder and may or may not be 100 per cent healthy. Another obstacle for the Jayhawks will be whether they can keep up to more agile teams like TCU and Rhode Island – potential second and third-round opponents.

The most interesting first round match-up pits Rhode Island against Murray State. Many people have penciled Murray State, led by swingman De'Teri Mayes and point guard Chad Townsend, as a possible first-round upset. Even though the team comes out of a weak Ohio Valley Conference, the Racers rate among the country's top teams in scoring and field goal percentage. Rhode Island, meanwhile, also has two quick, high-scoring guards in Tyson Wheeler and Cuttino Mobley.

Another exciting match-up is sure to be Florida State versus TCU. TCU knows how to put up the numbers with the help of three of their stars, Mike Jones, Malcolm Johnson and Lee Nailon, all of whom averaged over 18 points per game this season. Meanwhile, the selection of Florida State to the tournament surprised some people. The Seminoles boast a lackluster 6-10 record, but they did pull upset wins over two of the country's best in Arizona and Conneticut earlier in the season.

The bottom half of the bracket stacks up very well with not much difference talent-wise between the teams from Purdue, Stanford and Clemson. It'll probably be a crap-shoot between these three teams to see who will play Kansas in the regional final.

As a final note, don't we all remember the tremendous run the College of Charleston put on last year? This year, their Cinderella story will have to start with a win against Stanford. Don't expect this to happen, but an upset that is more likely to happen would be 10th seed Detroit over 7th seed St. John's.

–Alex Chiang

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998