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NCAA Midwest Region 2

March 12, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

NCAA Midwest Region Preview

by Greg Bacani

The Past is History. The Future is a Mystery. Now is a Gift, that’s why they call it
The Present.

For me, that is the best way to describe the immediacy
and the mystique that the NCAA Tournament embodies.
Well, enough of that melodrama. Here’s how I see the
Midwest (sub region) shaping up.

For whatever reason, history seems to favor this
region. A No. 1 or a No. 2 seed has gone on to the
Final Four 8 out of the last 9 tournaments, which
bodes well for both Kansas Oregon.

No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 15 Montana

As if it wasn’t going to be tough enough for Montana,
who made a surprising run through the Big Sky
tournament to get here, the Ducks have some more
history on their side. Oregon won their first Pac-10
regular season championship since 1939. That year they
went on to beat Ohio State 46-33 to claim the first
NCAA men’s basketball title.

History aside, the Quack Attack will be too much for
the Grizzlies as Freddie Jones, Luke Ridnour and Luke
Jackson will look to blitz Montana from both sides of
the floor.

Prediction: Oregon 95, Montana 75

No. 7 Wake Forest vs. No. 10 Pepperdine

After beating UCLA and USC this year, and tying
Gonzaga for the WCC regular season title, Paul
Westphal’s Waves aren’t afraid of anyone. The catalyst
for Pepperdine will be junior guard Devin Montgomery,
who is coming off a career-high 27 points against the
Zags in the WCC tournament final.

Then again, Skip Prosser’s Demon Deacons come in as
one of the most battled tested teams in the
tournament. With 5 seniors led by 6-9 forward Darius
Songaila, to go along with the enigmatic Howard, Wake
will look to grind it out to the very end.

Prediction: Pepperdine 70, Wake Forest 65

No. 3 Mississippi State vs. No. 14 McNeese State

Mississippi State is riding high off of their
impressive run through the SEC tournament. Winners of
8 in a row, the Bulldogs are doing it with defense as
evidenced by their 15-0 record when they hold their
opponents under 65 points. They tied the school record
for wins (26) that was set by the 1996 team that
featured Eric Dampier and Dontae Jones, who went on to
the Final Four. That happens to be the last time the
Bulldogs played in the NCAA tournament.

However, don’t count out the Cowboys, who come into
the tournament on an impressive 14-game winning
streak, and figure to be a handful. Led by senior
forward Fred Gentry, who has started 115 straight
games for the Cowboys and is their most consistent
threat, head coach Tic Price will also look to junior
guard Jason Coleman to ignite the offense off the
bench. Coleman has scored in double figures in 22 of
his 29 games.

Prediction: Mississippi State 84, McNeese State 78

No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Boston College

Super Frosh T.J. Ford has been the driving force
behind the Longhorns success, as he became the first
freshman to ever lead the nation in assists (8.7).
The Longhorns will be playing in Dallas and should
benefit from the home crowd atmosphere. However, there
are some questions about their experience. After all,
Rick Barnes’ 7 man rotation consists of 2 freshmen, 4
sophomores and 1 junior.

The only team that Boston College beat is in this
year’s tournament is Miami, who they beat twice. The
key for Al Skinner’s squad, is whether or not start
guard Troy Bell can finally get on track. Bell was
downright awful in the Big East tournament shooting
6-29 (20.7%) from the field and averaging 13 points.
TO his defense, the team as a whole shot poorly as
well. However, that was then and now the Eagles have
new life. With 4 players that average in double
figures, especially sophomore guard Ryan Sidney and
senior forward Kenny Walls, BC is more than capable of
getting their act together.

Prediction: Texas 86, Boston College 84

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