Coach Bill Bayno
Team scoring 69.8 (FG%: 42.0) (3-pointers: 188-549, 34.2%)
Opponents' scoring 66.5 (FG%: 40.1)
Rebound margin +1.1
Team FT% 65.5
Whom not to foul Kevin Simmons (72%), Kaspars Kambala (72%)
Whom to foul Issiah Epps (47%), Edwin (Greedy) Daniels (55%)
Quality wins E. Michigan 84-66, Utah 54-51, New Mexico 56-51
Player to Watch New Zealand's Mark Dickel was the WAC Pacific Division's freshman of the year for 1996-97, yet his point guard job was practically handed to Daniels, a heralded recruit, during the preseason. Dickel split time between the two guard spots and averaged just 5.5 points. With Daniels seeing limited time because of a pulled right hamstring, however, there was Dickel running the point and pushing the ball upcourt as the Runnin' Rebels clinched an unlikely NCAA bid by sweeping four games in the WAC tournament. He had 12 assists with just one turnover in the final against New Mexico.
UNLV has won six straight since its best player, center Keon Clark, quit the team on Feb. 24 following a suspension for "violating team rules." Simmons—who was himself suspended for the season's first 14 games by the NCAA for accepting favors from an agent—has been a force in his stead.
Unable to downshift from the frenetic WAC tournament, UNLV will be numbed by Princeton in Round 1.
MARCH 12, 14/WASHINGTON
Coach Jim Calhoun
Team scoring 76.5 (FG%: 45.9) (3-pointers: 194-544, 35.7%)
Opponents' scoring 62.5 (FG%: 38.4)
Rebound margin +2.5
Team FT% 72.9
Whom not to foul Richard Hamilton (85%), Khalid El-Amin (78%)
Whom to foul Souleymane Wane (55%), Rashamel Jones (62%)
Quality wins West Virginia 88-75, UMass 72-55, Stanford 76-56
Player to Watch
Freshman assist leader El-Amin (4.2 a game) and sophomore scoring leader Hamilton (21.4) get most of the attention, but sophomore forward Kevin Freeman does the dirty work that allows them to flourish. He's certainly the Huskies' toughest player; he fractured his wrist on Jan. 19 but missed only one game, and he leads UConn in rebounding despite being an undersized, 6'6", power forward.