Patterson, forward Brannen (14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds a game) and sophomore center Martin, who had Cincinnati's first triple double (24 points, 23 rebounds, 10 blocks against DePaul) in 31 years, give the Bearcats a powerful inside game. The question marks are at guard where junior Melvin Levett, an excitable player nicknamed the Helicopter because of his leaping ability, leads the Bearcats with 73 threes. Point guard Michael Horton, who was suspended for three games on Feb. 20, could be a liability: He didn't make a three all season and shot only 46.9% from the foul line.
Backcourt play has been the Bearcats' bugaboo most of the year, but not as they have won 10 of their last 11. They're the West team most likely to beat Arizona and reach the Final Four.
15 Northern Arizona
Coach Ben Howland
Team scoring 80.9 (FG%: 51.4) (3-pointers: 246-567, 43.4%)
Opponents' scoring 675 (FG%: 43.7)
Rebound margin +3.8 Team FT% 73.3
Whom not to foul Andrew Mavis (80%), Ross Land (79%)
Whom to foul Dan McClintock (62%), Billy Hix (65%)
Quality wins None
Player to Watch
Howland persuaded a reluctant Mavis to transfer from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, two years ago, and the proud senior forward from Canada—Mavis has a maple leaf tattoo on his right ankle—hasn't regretted his decision. He shot 48% from three-point range this season and was named Big Sky player of the year.
After Northern Arizona went 14-38 and shot 43.3% during Howland's first two years, he decided to recruit better shooters. The strategy has worked. The Lumberjacks have jacked up threes better than any other team in the country the last two seasons (42.7%) while going 42-14. They've also discovered an inside force in 7-foot sophomore center McClintock, who came off the bench to become the conference tournament MVP. Northern Arizona is slow-footed though, as it found out in losses at Arizona State (87-76) and UCLA (90-68).
After Northern Arizona's first-round date with fleet Cincinnati, flags will be at half-mast in Flagstaff.
Coach John Chaney
Team scoring 66.1 (FG%: 40.4) (3-pointers: 210-624, 33.7%)
Opponents' scoring 59.9 (FG%: 38.2)
Team FT% 68.0
Whom not to foul Quincy Wadley (82%), Lynn Greer (81%)
Whom to foul Julian Dunkley (46%), Lynard Stewart (57%)
Quality wins Indiana 59-53, at Mich. St. 56-54, at UMass 61-47
Player to Watch
Sophomore center Lamont Barnes would be a success if he simply played college basketball, much less excelled at it, as he has for the Owls. His mother, Georgetta, was murdered when he was eight; the man he considered his father, Michael Gilian, was killed when he was 17. But Barnes endured and now leads Temple in both scoring (14.1) and rebounding (8.1). His performance has softened the sting of the early departure for the NBA of Marc Jackson, last season's top scorer and rebounder.