METRO: At Cincinnati, coach Tony Yates, a former Illinois assistant, has gotten lots of mileage from following his dog-eared road maps of the Land of Lincoln. Champaign's Roger McClendon helped the Bearcats claw from a 3-25 record in '83-84 to last season's 17-14 (with two defeats of conference rival Louisville). Four other top players are from Illinois. Virginia Tech is young, having lost its two Youngs, Perry and Al. Star swing guard Dell Curry hopes to find a decent back-court mate in Johnny Fort, a transfer from Iowa. At South Carolina, fraternal freshman twins Terry (6'9") and Perry (6'10") Dozier rejoin Keith James, their teammate at Dunbar High in Baltimore.
MIDWESTERN COLLEGIATE: It used to be the Midwestern City, but after last season, the league deserves a new image. Loyola did the conference proud by going all the way to the NCAA final 16, and on one startling day Detroit and Butler knocked off Memphis State and Notre Dame, respectively. Xavier, under new coach Pete Gillen, is favored to win the league, though the Musketeers went a disappointing 7-7 last season after similar high hopes. Loyola, without top scorers Alfredrick Hughes and Andre Battle, will rely on fearless 5'9" point guard Carl (Go-Go) Golston and rebounder-scorer Andre Moore.
AMCU-8: In its fourth season, the Association of Mid-Continent Universities gets no automatic NCAA bid, which is unfortunate for Cleveland State, likely to repeat as champ with its twin Clintons (Ransey and Smith) in the frontcourt. Eastern Illinois has the league's best (player of the year Jon Collins) and biggest (7-foot, 300-pound Kevin Duckworth), while Illinois-Chicago has the first woman college coach, assistant Patricia Denning.
OHIO VALLEY: Every spring some OVC power bags its NCAA bid, gives a heavily favored tourney opponent a game for a half and then takes the last train to Clarksville—or Cookeville, or Murfrees-boro. Look for Middle Tennessee, the last OVC team to do NCAA damage (R.I.P., Kentucky '82), to get this season's 20 minutes in the sun. The Blue Raiders should edge defending champ Tennessee Tech, thanks to the return of Kim Cooksey and James Johnson, who led the league in points and steals, respectively. Eastern Kentucky regains point-o-matic guard Antonio Parris after a season plagued with injuries, and Austin Peay welcomes back Lake Kelly, who coached Fly Williams and the Govs to two NCAA tourney appearances in the early '70s.
BIG SKY: A passel of redshirts and transfers should give Nevada-Reno its third straight title, though Montana star Larry Krystkowiak, who led the league in scoring and rebounding (21.1 points and 10.3-rebounds), may take issue with that. Former UCLA coach Larry Farmer takes over at Weber State, which lost its top six players. But Farmer cultivated a fine recruiting crop, bringing in five players, including 6'8" juco transfer Harry (Gramps) Willis, a 26-year-old father of four. Farmer is accustomed to sweet-talking prospects' parents, but Willis presented him with a twist. "I had to recruit his kids," says Farmer.
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