Stanford - Western Kentucky NCAA First Round Preview
March 11, 2002
GAME: No. 9 Western Kentucky (28-3) vs. No. 8 Stanford (19-9).
REGIONAL: Midwest, First Round.
TIME: Thursday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
SITE: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis.
Despite losing just three games this season, Western Kentucky enters theNCAA tournament with something to prove as it plays Stanford in the openinground of the Midwest Regional.
The Hilltoppers won the Sun Belt Tournament to earn a bid for the secondstraight year, and the 18th time in the program's history.
Last season, Western Kentucky was the No. 14 seed in the South and ledthird-seeded Florida by as many as 11 points early before falling 69-56 in itsfirst-round game at New Orleans.
Prior to that, the Hilltoppers hadn't earned a spot in the NCAA tournamentfield since a three-year run from 1993-95.
Despite being ranked 19th in the nation, Western Kentucky is seeded ninthand will again play the role of the underdog.
'We've been the underdogs for four years and that's where we'recomfortable,' Hilltoppers coach Dennis Felton said. 'We're just happy to beincluded in the party, and we're anxious to get it on.'
Stanford, which has lost three of its last five contests, finished in asecond-place tie in the Pac-10.
'They're the team with the real tradition here in the last 10 years,'Felton said of the Cardinal, who lost to Southern California 103-78 in thefirst round of the Pac-10 tournament. 'There hasn't been a program in thecountry any more successful than Stanford.
'It's going to give us the opportunity and the stage to do something veryspecial if we can find a way to beat them.'
This game will feature a matchup of two of the nation's top centers.
Western Kentucky is led by senior center Chris Marcus who was injured muchof the season but had two double-doubles in the Hilltoppers' three Sun Belttournament games.
'A lot of teams are playing bigger schools that they can't beat, but we canbeat some of those big schools and that's what we hope to do,' said Marcus wholeads his team with averages of 16.4 points and 9.4 rebounds.
The 7-foot-1 Marcus will matched up against the 7-0 Chris Borchardt who hasexperienced a breakout season for Stanford.
Borchardt has remained healthy all year to take some of the scoring burdenoff of swingman Casey Jacobsen, and averages 17 points and a team-high 11.4rebounds a game. Jacobsen led the Pac-10 in scoring at 22 points.
Jacobsen and Borchardt were both named to the to the all-Pac-10 team.
The winner of this game will likely face top-seeded Kansas, which plays16th-seeded Holy Cross on Thursday.
PROBABLE STARTERS: W. Kentucky - F David Boyden (11.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg), G Derek Robinson (10.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg), C Marcus (16.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg), G Filip Videnov (6.9 ppg, 1.4 apg), G Patrick Sparks (10.4 ppg, 3.5 apg). Stanford - F Jacobsen (22 ppg, 3.6 apg), F Teyo Johnson (5.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg), C Borchardt (17 ppg, 11.4 rpg), G Tony Giovacchini (4.0 ppg, 2.5 apg), G Julius Barnes (11.1 ppg, 3.1 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: W. Kentucky - Automatic bid, Sun Belt Conference champion. Stanford - At-large bid, Pac-10 Conference.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: W. Kentucky - 15-18, 17 years. Stanford - 16-9, 10 years.
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