| The Favorites
Topping the list of favorites this year is a familiar name. Duke, widely favored to make their seventh Final Four appearance since 1988, is almost everyone’s favorite. Once again, Mike Krzyzewski has his Blue Devils (32-1) in great shape come tournament time. Elton Brand is the preeminent front-court player in the nation and “Alaskan Assassin” Trajan Langdon, tender ankle and all, is ready to make his mark as the most famous Dukie since Christian Laettner. Michigan State (29-4) looks good as well. The Spartans have moved steadily up the polls all year and finished strong in the Big Ten tournament, garnering a one-seed on Selection Sunday. Led by veteran floor leader and co-Big Ten Player of the Year Mateen Cleaves, the Spartans, currently ranked second in the media poll, are looking to make their first Final Four appearance since 1979.
Connecticut (28-2) is also expected to compete for the national championship. They got a scare in the first round of the Big East tournament with their one-point win over Seton Hall. That should be enough to wake them up for their tourney run. Richard Hamilton is arguably the best player in the tournament, and has the talent to take the Huskies all the way. Coach Jim Calhoun will be making his 13th tournament appearance and should have his team focused, especially following the near disaster against Seton Hall.
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