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NCAA Southwest region capsules

By Emily Wright
Globe Correspondent / March 15, 2011

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1. Kansas

Record: 32-2

Best win: Texas

Player to watch: Marcus Morris leads the Jayhawks with 17.3 ppg and 7.2 rpg.

Notable: The Jayhawks lead the nation in field goal percentage (.514), are second in average assists per game (17.9) and fifth in points per game (82.4). Morris’ twin Markief teams with his brother to give the Jayhawks a formidable presence in the paint.

2. Notre Dame

Record: 26-6

Best win: Pittsburgh

Player to watch: Senior guard Ben Hansbrough, younger brother of former North Carolina player Tyler, and averages 18.5 ppg, while shooting .451 from beyond the arc.

Notable: The Fighting Irish are 5-4 on the road with three of those losses against then-unranked Marquette, St. John’s and West Virginia. Shooting the basketball from the outside is where their fate lies.

3. Purdue

Record: 25-7

Best win: Ohio State

Player to watch: Senior 6-10 forward JaJuan Johnson, the Big 10 player of the year, averages 20.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 2.3 bpg. He’ll step outside and hit a shot too.

Notable: The Boilermakers won seven of their last nine, including back-to-back wins over then-No. 10 Wisconsin (70-62) and then-No. 3 Ohio State (76-63) in February.

4. Louisville

Record: 25-9

Best win: Notre Dame

Player to watch: Preston Knowles (14.8 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.8 apg) helped lead his team to the Big East championship with a 20-point contribution against No. 4 Notre Dame on Friday, despite having four fouls during the final 10 minutes of regulation and overtime.

Notable: The Cardinals avenged an 89-79 overtime loss to Notre Dame on February 9 with a Big East tournament semifinal win against the Fighting Irish, 83-77 in overtime. The big question is whether Rick Pitino will wear his white suit during the tournament.

5. Vanderbilt

Record: 23-10

Best win: North Carolina

Player to watch: The SEC’s scoring leader, sophomore John Jenkins, averages 19.5 points per game and has yet to be held under double-figures in scoring this season.

Notable: The Commodores have recorded wins against North Carolina, Saint Mary’s and Kentucky this season. Vandy also took Florida and Missouri into overtime, but lost in the final minutes.

6. Georgetown

Record: 21-10

Best win: Villanova

Player to watch: Austin Freeman, a 6-7 forward, averages 17.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg and 2.5 apg.

Notable: The Hoyas will welcome back senior guard Chris Wright (8.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.4 rpg) to their lineup in the tournament after losing the last four straight in his absence due to an ankle sprain.

7. Texas A&M

Record: 24-8

Best win: Missouri

Player to watch: Khris Middleton, a wiry 6-7 forward, led the Aggies in scoring (14.3 ppg) and is second in rebounding (5.2 rpg).

Notable: The Aggies were in the midst of a 13-game win streak until Texas stopped them short on Jan. 19. A&M defeated Oklahoma on the road and three ranked opponents in their 13-game streak, No. 20 Temple, No. 22 Washington and No. 12 Missouri.

8. UNLV

Record: 24-8

Best win: Kansas State

Player to watch: Tre’Von Willis is a heady guard who produces 13.5 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.6 rpg.

Notable: The Rebels won six of their last seven, including a 77-74 overtime victory against New Mexico before losing to San Diego State in the MWC semifinals on Friday. They don’t beat the team selves as the Rebels have more than a 100 fewer turnovers than their opponents.

9. Illinois

Record: 19-13

Best win: Minnesota

Player to watch: Senior guard Demetri McCamey averages 14.8 ppg, shooting 46 percent on threes, 6.1 apg and 3.5 rpg.

Notable: The Fighting Illini have made it to the Final Four five times, but have yet to win an NCAA title. They were 3-7 in road games this season.

10. Florida State

Record: 21-10

Best win: Duke

Player to watch: Derwin Kitchen, who knows how to put heat on defensively, leads the Seminoles in scoring and rebounding.

Notable: The Seminoles managed to make the tournament while playing without despite losing their only double-figure scorer, Chris Singleton, to an injury near the end of the season. They win with defense, leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense. Florida State handed Duke its first loss of the season on January 12, 66-61.

11. USC

Record: 19-14

Best win: Arizona

Player to watch: Nikola Vucevic, a 6-10 all Pac-10 forward, averages 17.3 ppg and 10.2 rpg.

Notable: Trojans coach Kevin O’Neill was reinstated Sunday after a suspension barred him from coaching in the PAC-10 tournament semifinal loss against Arizona on Saturday.

11. VCU

Record: 23-11

Best win: George Mason

Player to watch: After transferring from Wake Forest as a sophomore, Jamie Skeen has become a force for VCU, leading the Rams in both points (15.3 ppg) and rebounds (7.5 rpg).

Notable: The Rams made the Dance thanks to a 13-2 regular season stretch and a late season victory over No. 24 George Mason.

12. Richmond

Record: 27-7

Best win: Purdue

Player to watch: Justin Harper, an athletic 6-10 center, averages 17.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg and shoots the deep ball at a 46-percent clip.

Notable: Richmond won its first Atlantic-10 title on Sunday with a 67-54 victory over Dayton. Coach Chris Mooney is a Princeton disciple and opponents have to make sure the backdoor is closed.

13. Morehead St.

Record: 24-9

Best win: Murray State

Player to watch: Kenneth Faried (17.6 ppg, 14.5 rpg), a senior forward, leads his team in scoring and rebounding and broke Tim Duncan’s NCAA Division I career rebounding record (1,572) on February 19. He now has 1,643 rebounds heading into the Big Dance. He is also tied with Ralph Sampson for the second-most all-time career double-doubles (84). Duncan is the career leader with 87.

Notable Morehead State won the Ohio Valley Conference title for the second time in three years with a 80-73 win over Tennessee Tech.

14. Saint Peter’s

Record: 20-13

Best win: Iona

Player to watch: Wesley Jenkins, a New Jersey native, averages 12.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg and shoots the trey 42 percent.

Notable: This is the first NCAA tournament appearance for the Peacocks since 1995 and second in school history. They are ranked second in the nation in field goal percentage defense (37.4).

15. Akron

Record: 23-12

Best win: Kent St.

Player to watch: Nikola Cvetinovic, a 6-8 junior forward, averages 11.9 ppg and 7 rpg.

Notable: After losing to Kent St. March 4 in the final game of the regular season, the Zips battled back against the Golden Flashes in the Mid-American championship on Sunday with a 67-66 overtime victory. Coach Keith Dombrot coached LeBron James in high school.

16. Boston University

Record: 21-13

Best win: Stony Brook

Player to watch: America East Player of the Year John Holland (19.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg) helped bring the Terriers rally from a 17-point deficit in the conference final against Stony Brook with a 27-point contribution. Holland’s final two points were scored from the free throw line with 2.4 seconds remaining to clinch an NCAA berth.

Notable: This is BU’s first appearance in the tournament since 2002 and its seventh time to the Big Dance in school history.