2-3 This is your basic YMCA zone set, which works best for rebounding but worst for perimeter defense, because a couple of ball reversals by the offense usually lead to an open shot. The 2-3 is Syracuse's standard alignment, and it's the zone against which Kentucky shot just 20% from three-point range in the second half of its loss to Louisville on Dec. 27. North Carolina uses the 2-3 a bit, too, and "does a great job of playing the percentages, trying to get certain guys to shoot early," says Clemson coach Rick Barnes.
3-2 Michigan State plays man-to-man most of the time, but the Spartans employed the 3-2 alignment extensively during victories this season over Purdue and Iowa. "We use a 3-2 instead of a 2-3 because it gives us better matchups on the perimeter," says Michigan State assistant coach Tom Crean. "You can put more of your quicker people out on top for ball pressure."
1-3-1 This set is most effective against squads with small guards and poor ball handlers. Teams often half-court trap out of it, forcing a faster pace and quicker shots. Kansas, with its size—including the long arms of Ryan Robertson at the zone's top—uses the 1-3-1 well. But over the years no school has played it better than Temple.
1-2-2 A team that wants to stifle the biggest threat to a zone—the pass into the high post—plays this. Last week, UNLV used a 1-2-2 to beat Utah, Fresno State and New Mexico and win the WAC tournament. Maryland, in its Jan. 14 overtime upset of North Carolina, used a 1-2-2 to disguise the defensive deficiencies of guards Terrell Stokes, who's at least 10 pounds heavier than last year, and Sarunas Jasikevicius, who has never been very quick.