The Highlanders, now on an 11-game winning streak, don't have a lot of tradition to pin their hopes on: This is their first NCAA tournament appearance. Their main weapons are the inside offense of senior forward Kevin Robinson (a 59.7% marksman, 18th best in the nation) and good three-point shooting (8.1 threes a game). The main liability? Perimeter players who don't play defense well against dribble penetration.
Duke's legions of dribble-penetrators will lay the Highlanders low in the first round.
8 Oklahoma State
Coach Eddie Sutton
Team scoring 79-3 (FG%: 46.8) (3-pointers: 158-468, 33.8%)
Opponents' scoring 69.3 (FG%: 44.3)
Rebound margin +2.5
Team FT% 70.7
Whom not to foul Adrian Peterson (80%), Brett Robisch (78%)
Whom to foul Doug Gottlieb (52%)
Quality wins At TCU 82-81, at Oklahoma 88-84
Player to Watch
Peterson, a junior guard, is the Cowboy to keep an eye on, but don't worry if you miss the first half. In Oklahoma State's 16 Big 12 games he averaged 6.6 points before halftime and 12.3 after. Besides being a slow starter, he's a team player. Because starting guards Gottlieb and Joe Adkins are probably even shorter than their listed heights of 6'1" and 6'2", respectively, the Cowboys needed the 6'4" Peterson to be more of a swingman. He responded by taking 37 fewer three-pointers than a year ago and doubled his rebounding average to 7.0.
A Sutton-coached team won't beat itself. Oklahoma State averages only 14.0 turnovers a game and makes its free throws (52 of 56 in the second halves of the last four regular-season games). But teams with big front lines give the Cowboys fits because the 6'11" Robisch gets little help inside.
The Cowboys have been too consistent not to beat George Washington. But watch Elton Brand and Roshown McLeod lead Duke to a second-round victory.
9 George Washington
Coach Mike Jarvis
Team scoring 73.6 (FG%: 44.8) (3-pointers: 137-431, 31.8%)
Opponents' scoring 67.8 (FG%: 40.0)
Rebound margin +5.2
Team FT% 65.0
Whom not to foul Shawnta Rogers (77%), Y. Mescheriakov (77%)
Whom to foul Antxon Iturbe (41%), Pat Ngongba (56%)
Quality wins Xavier 78-73, Maryland 70-66