South Alabama 12
Coach Bob Weltlich
Team scoring 65.5 (FG%: 48.6) (3-pointers: 125-309, 40.5%)
Opponents' scoring 54.1 (FG%: 40.8)
Rebound margin +7.3 Team FT% 64.6
Whom not to foul Dusty Dubbs (82%), Toby Madison (79%)
Whom to foul Jason Hamm (55%), Rico Alderson (57%)
Quality win Washington 69-52
Player to Watch
After his third knee operation in two years, in October, 6'4" senior point guard Jerome Coaxum has sacrificed much of his own offense to set up his teammates (3.0 assists a game) and become arguably the best defender in the Sun Belt Conference. His block—despite playing on a sprained right ankle—of a Southwestern Louisiana three-point attempt with less than 10 seconds left in the league tournament final saved a 62-59 win for the Jaguars.
This South Alabama team is not as deep as the one that led eventual champion Arizona in the final three minutes before losing 65-57 in the first round last year, but it might be better. Weltlich, who is taking his third school to the NCAAs, has scrapped former coach Bill Musselman's multiset offense in favor of a simpler attack that features well-balanced scoring. Madison (14.9) is tops among four double-figure scorers.
Jags might have ridden leftover Olympic U-S-A! cheers to first-round upset, but Illinois is too steady to stumble.
MARCH 12, 14/BOISE
Coach Bob Huggins
Team scoring 76.5 (FG%: 45.7) (3-pointers: 169-487, 34.7%)
Opponents' scoring 62.6 (FG%: 38.9)
Rebound margin +7.9 Team FT% 68.1
Whom not to foul D'Juan Baker (86%), Bobby Brannen (85%)
Whom to foul Michael Morton (47%) Kenyon Martin (48%)
Quality wins UNC-Charlotte 68-67, Massachusetts 74-66
Player to Watch
Hours after learning that his mother, Charlene, had died, senior forward Ruben Patterson scored 32 points in an emotional tribute to her as the Bearcats beat UAB 93-76 two weeks ago. Do you think tournament pressure is going to stop him?