Whichever teams draw Kentucky will have to be ready to apply a tourniquet if the Wildcats go on one of their bloodletting runs. How can coaches stanch the bleeding? They can change defenses, order a few extra passes in the forecourt or send in a sub. And if a TV timeout is coming—they are called at the first dead ball after the 16-, 12-, eight-and four-minute marks of each half, if neither team calls time around those points—a coach might forgo calling a timeout of his own. If he's desperate to stop the action in the first half, he'll spend a 20-second timeout because the one 20 allotted per half is a use-it-or-lose-it.
Keep in mind, too, that a tournament timeout—what with all the commercials that must be squeezed in—lasts nearly three minutes. "The timeouts take an eternity," says Texas coach Tom Penders. "They really help a team that plays only six or seven guys." Adds UMass coach John Calipari, "I don't have enough to say during tournament timeouts. I just say, 'For the next minute and a half, let's hang out.' "
Before the 1988 NCAA tournament, Kansas coach Larry Brown (right) told senior forward Danny Manning that only Manning could make the Jayhawks great because he was their only great player. Manning led Kansas to a title, taking the Jayhawks one step further than Larry Bird and Grant Hill carried Indiana State in '79 and Duke in '94, respectively. Among the possible one-man bands in this year's draw: Keith Van Horn of Utah, John Wallace of Syracuse and Wake Forest's Tim Duncan, of whom coach Dave Odom says, "I can see a difference going into this portion of the season. He's all business."
REMEMBER THE NBA FACTOR
Recent NCAA Champions share one characteristic: NBA quality talent. Every champion since 1986 has had at least two players who have made it to the pros (below), even if some of them played only briefly. Most were first-round draft choices. In fact, the only titlist since 1963 without a future first-round pick was Indiana in '87, and those Hoosiers had three second-rounders, Steve Alford, Keith Smart and Dean Garrett, and a Hall of Fame coach in Bob Knight. They also got one of the timeliest buzzer-beating shots in history, from Smart, to win their championship.
That bit of history augurs less well for Cincinnati, Massachusetts and Wake Forest (all of which have lottery picks in the pivot but may not have any other future pros) than for Connecticut, Georgetown, Kansas and Villanova, each of which could send a few players to the NBA. But it bodes best for Kentucky, whose Derek Anderson, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Mark Pope, Wayne Turner and Antoine Walker could all wind up in the NBA. If it sounds preposterous that a single team could field so many future pros, think again: The 1978 Wildcats—the last Kentucky team to win a title—had nine players drafted.
Five of the last six NCAA titlists came into the tournament as No. 1 seeds, and the sixth, Duke in 1991, was a No. 2. But even if the favorites win it all, the first two rounds still leave the draw pocked with upsets. Here's how to tell if one is in the offing.
Serving treys. "A lot of upsets happen when an underdog has a great three-point-shooting night and a favored team doesn't," says Texas Tech coach James Dickey.