Can Temple Finally Get John Chaney to the Final Four? Chaney won an NCAA Division II title and has coached four Temple teams to the final eight, but the Owls are seeking their first Final Four since 1958. With four starters returning, including senior point guard Pepe Sanchez, this could be Chaney's season.
Watch Those Freshmen, especially former Washington area players: Cincinnati's DerMarr Johnson, left, Kentucky's Keith Bogans and North Carolina's Joe Forte are part of a freshman class that will be storming into big-time programs.
The Turnover at Duke: Elton Brand, William Avery, Corey Maggette, Trajan Langdon, Chris Burgess and assistant coach Quin Snyder are out. Freshmen Jason Williams, Casey Sanders, Nick Horvath, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Carlos Boozer, Andre Bucker and former star (and new assistant coach) Steve Wojciechowski are in.
Auburn, Florida and Gonzaga -- Are They for Real? Yes, yes, and we'll see. Gonzaga, which reached the NCAA round of eight, still has guards Matt Santangelo and Richie Frahm, but Coach Dan Monson went to Minnesota, and the schedule includes consecutive games against Cincinnati, Temple and UCLA. Florida has four starters back from a round-of-16 team and adds one of the nation's best recruiting classes. Auburn's Chris Porter, left, is one of the nation's top players, and nearly everyone is back from the team that went 29-4 and reached the round of 16.
The Coaching News
You could now have a reasonably formidable team of former NBA personnel who will be on Division I sidelines in new jobs this season: Sidney Moncrief, Arkansas-Little Rock; Sidney Green, Florida Atlantic; Steve Alford, Iowa; Larry Wright, Grambling. Of course, the coach would be Bob Hill, now at Fordham. And because they are in their second seasons of college coaching, he also could have Clyde Drexler, Houston, and Jeff Ruland, Iona.
Other notables in new Division I coaching jobs are: Dereck Whittenberg, Wagner; Scott Sutton (the 28-year-old son of Eddie Sutton), Oral Roberts; Jim Harrick, Georgia; Dave Bliss, Baylor; Steve Fisher, San Diego State; Ralph Willard, Holy Cross; Wil Jones, Norfolk State; Fran Fraschilla, New Mexico; Quin Snyder, Missouri; Matt Doherty, Notre Dame; Nick Macarchuk, Stony Brook (in its first Division I season); Jeff Jones, Rhode Island assistant coach.
Players the Big Boys May Fear
If these mid-major and small conference teams make the NCAA tournament, look out for these players:
G Marcus Faison, F Corey Osinski and F Jim Cantamessa, Siena: They were the backbone of a team that averaged 86.9 ppg last season and went 25-6, including a loss to Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
F Rod Murray, G Aubrey Reese, G Marlon Towns, F Isaac Spencer, Murray State: Three seniors and junior, they helped the Racers go 27-6 last season.
G Jami Bosley, Akron: Now that Wally Szczerbiak is gone, the country may hear about this 6-foot senior who averaged 18.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists last season, made 86.1 percent of his free throws and 41.8 percent of his three-pointers.
G Rashad Phillips, Detroit: The 5-10 senior averaged 15.7 points, 4.3 assists and nearly 36 minutes per game last season, the second in which the Titans won an NCAA first-round game.
G Rob Dye, Bradley: Among five returning starters, the 6-1 senior averaged 17.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 37 minutes and shot 81.3 percent from the foul line.
F Harold Arceneaux, Weber State: North Carolina still remembers "The Show," who scored 36 points in the upset of the Tar Heels in the NCAA first round, then added 32 in a second-round, overtime loss to Florida.
G Chico Fletcher, Arkansas State: He's 5-6; he's also the two-time Sun Belt Conference player of the year who averaged 17.8 points, 8.3 assists, 2.2 steals and nearly 37 minutes a game.
Virginia (14-16 last season): After winning 11 games two seasons ago and 14 last season -- their first under Coach Pete Gillen -- the Cavaliers reasonably can hope to make the NCAA tournament now that Chris Williams and Adam Hall have been joined by a terrific group of newcomers.
Oregon State (13-14): With all key players back, this could be much more than the Beavers' first winning season since Gary Payton left. They beat Arizona, Stanford and UCLA at home last season. Now they'll try to win some Pac-10 road games; they are 1-35 in such games over the past four seasons.
Wake Forest (17-14): After losing in the second round of the NIT in the two seasons since Tim Duncan left, Wake Forest has five starters returning.
Illinois (14-18): It reached the Big Ten tournament final after finishing last in the regular season. Five returning starters are joined by 1999 high school all-American Brian Cook, a 6-10 forward, and 1997 high school all-American Marcus Griffin, a 6-9 center who was last season's junior college Division II player of the year.
Minnesota (17-11): The academic fraud scandal prompted university officials to make the Golden Gophers ineligible for postseason play. With the departure of Quincy Lewis and Kevin Clark, they wouldn't have made it anyway.
Miami of Ohio (24-8): Wally's World is closed. Not only is Szczerbiak gone, so are starters Damon Frierson and John Estick.
Washington (17-12): Guards Deon Luton and Senque Carey are back, but guard Deon Watts and 7-foot center Todd MacCulloch are not. The improvement of Oregon and Oregon State makes matters even tougher.
College of Charleston (28-3): The Cougars will remain one of the Southern Conference's best teams, but with eight seniors, including four starters, gone, they won't have the same national profile as last season.
Where's the Men's Final Four?
First and Second Rounds
East (March 17 and 19): Marine Midland Arena, Buffalo; Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, N.C.
South (March 17 and 19): Gaylord Entertainment Center, Nashville; Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, Birmingham.
Midwest (March 16 and 18): Cleveland State University Convocation Center; Metrodome, Minneapolis.
West (March 16 and 18): Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City; McKale Center, Tucson.
Region Semifinals and Finals
East (March 24 and 26): Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
South (March 24 and 26): Erwin Special Events Center, Austin.
Midwest (March 23 and 25): The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Mich.
West (March 23 and 25): University Arena, Albuquerque.
April 1 and 3, RCA Dome, Indianapolis.