1. STANFORD (26-3)
* First-round opponent: South Carolina State.
* Season in brief: Terrific season marred by late-season losses to UCLA and Arizona. Broke fast with an overtime victory over Duke on Nov. 11, flourished early despite the loss of Mark Madsen because of injury, the held No. 1 spot twice before home defeats by Arizona on Jan. 8 and UCLA on March 4. Scored other key nonconference wins over Iowa, Auburn and Georgia Tech and crushed archrival California by 51 points.
* Player to watch: Casey Jacobsen. The 6-6 freshman from Glendora High led the team in scoring and gives the Cardinal an inside-out scoring threat.
* Tidbit: Guard Michael McDonald's father, Glenn, played for Lute Olson at Long Beach State in 1973-74, was Boston's first-round pick and, in 1976, played a key role in the Celtics' famous triple overtime win against the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals.
* NCAA bio: School's eighth NCAA appearance under Montgomery after not qualifying from 1942 through 1988. Won it all in 1942, advanced to the Final Four in 1998, ousted in the second round last year by Gonzaga.
2. CINCINNATI (28-3)
* First-round opponent: North Carolina Wilmington.
* Season in brief: Hopes devastated Thursday by season-ending injury to star center Kenyon Martin in Conference USA tournament. Bearcats were ranked No. 1 in most power rating polls, defeated Iowa State, Gonzaga and North Carolina. Lost the "city" championship Dec. 18 to Xavier, also lost a home-court thriller to Temple on Feb. 20.
* Player to watch: Kenny Satterfield. With Martin out, the 6-1 freshman point guard will have to play like a senior to prevent his team from an early-round exit.
* Tidbit: The nickname Bearcats? In a 1914 football game against Kentucky, a cheerleader touted the exploits of Cincinnati fullback Teddy Baehr with the cheer "They may be Wildcats, but we have Baehr-cat on our side."
* NCAA bio: Bounced out in second round last year by nemesis Temple. Ninth appearance for Coach Bob Huggins, whose 1992 squad advanced to the Final Four. School won consecutive national titles in 1961 and '62, after legendary Oscar Robertson left the program.
3. OHIO STATE (22-6)
* First-round opponent: Appalachian State.
* Season in brief: Stumbled to 4-2 start after losses to Notre Dame and Kansas, regained Final Four form with impressive wins against Michigan State, St. John's, Purdue and Indiana.
* Player to watch: Ken Johnson. The backcourt tandem of Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd hog most of the headlines, but the 6-11 senior center averaged 5.5 blocked shots to lead the nation.
* Tidbit: No Ohio State player will again wear No. 11 after the school retired Jerry Lucas' jersey in November ceremonies. The former All-American led the Buckeyes to the national title in 1960.* NCAA bio: School's 20 appearance. Advanced to Final Four last year before loss to Connecticut. Ohio State lost the national title game in 1939, '61 and '62,
4. TENNESSEE (24-6)
* First-round opponent: Louisiana Lafayette.
* Season in brief: Started 11-0 before loss to Tulsa in Puerto Rico Classic, set school single-season record for wins, beat Florida twice in overtime but lost twice to Vanderbilt.
* Player to watch: Vincent Yarbrough. The 6-7 sophomore forward averages 15 points and seven rebounds, is a great leaper, and loves to crash the offensive boards.
* Tidbit: You know "Rocky Top," the Tennesseee anthem? The song was written by two guys from Kentucky.
* NCAA bio: School's 12th appearanance. Last year's great season was derailed by shocking second-round loss to 12th-seeded Southwest Missouri State.
5. CONNECTICUT (24-9)
* First-round opponent: Utah State.
* Season in brief: The defending national champions graduated leading scorer Richard Hamilton and defensive stopper Ricky Moore. Season lowlights included an opening loss to Iowa, a 19-point loss to Michigan State on national television and getting swept by Notre Dame. The Huskies did beat Arizona, though.
* Player to watch: Khalid El-Amin. The 5-10 junior guard wasn't as effective a playmaker without Hamilton as an offensive option, but still is one of the nation's top point guards.
* Tidbit: Last season, Connecticut was the first team since Texas Western (now Texas El Paso) in 1966 to win a national championship in its first Final Four appearance.
* NCAA bio: Last season's title ended years of frustration for Coach Jim Calhoun, whose teams were eliminated in the regional finals in 1990, '95 and '98. School's 22nd appearance, and ninth under Calhoun.
6. MIAMI (FLA.) (21-10)
* First-round opponent: Arkansas.
* Season in brief: Had a string of ugly nonconference losses to Memphis, North Carolina Charlotte, Louisiana Lafayette and Illinois State, but got hot in Big East play, sweeping Notre Dame and winning at Connecticut. Led Big East in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.
* Player to watch: Johnny Hemsley: The 6-5 senior guard is the team's leading scorer, but was suspended for a game late in the season for disciplinary reasons.