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COLLEGE BASKETBALL NCAA TOURNAMENT

Southeast Regional

March 13, 1997|GEORGE DOHRMANN

* No. 1 Kansas (32-1) vs. No. 16 Jackson State (14-15)--The SWAC tournament champion Tigers have a nice player in 6-foot-8 Trent Pulliam, but they are the 13th team to make the field with a losing record, shot 61% from the free-throw line and are playing the destiny team of this year's field. If there is hope for the rest of the field, it's that the Southeast's top-seeded team has made the Final Four only once in the last eight years.

* No. 8 Purdue (17-11) vs. No. 9 Rhode Island (20-9)--The Boilermakers have made the field as the Big Ten champions the last three seasons but haven't made it past the second round. They will be lucky to make it that far, starting two freshman forwards, Jaraan Cornell and Brian Cardinal, and a sophomore guard Alan Eldridge, against a veteran Rhode Island team. The Rams have point guard Tyson Wheeler, who averages almost six assists and 16 points a game, and a front line that is 6-7, 6-9 and 7 feet.

* No. 5 Maryland (21-10) vs. No. 12 College of Charleston (28-2)--College of Charleston owns the nation's longest winning streak (22) because four seniors are in the starting lineup and they play physically, especially 6-8 center Thaddeous Delaney. The Terrapins seemed to wear down late in the season in the ACC, and this same group lost to Santa Clara in the first round in 1996. But if forwards Laron Proffit and Keith Booth find their legs, Maryland and Coach Gary Williams can win this one and maybe more.

* No. 4 Arizona (19-9) vs. No. 13 South Alabama (23-6)--The Jaguars, the Sun Belt tournament champions, have the fifth-best scoring defense in the country and Coach Bill Musselman's library of set plays on the other end, meaning the Wildcats had better be ready for a small, athletic group that will rebound hard and swarm for 40 minutes. Arizona can score but is not big enough to take advantage of South Alabama's lack of size (no starter over 6-6) and is counting on point guard Mike Bibby, the Pacific 10 Conference freshman of the year, to handle the Jaguar pressure.

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