By Dan Shanoff
Special to Page 2

By now you've been studying the brackets for hours. Perhaps more importantly, you've been fielding calls in hushed tones and having secretive conversations at the water cooler about your NCAA Tournament picks.

Your opportunity to impress your co-workers, your friends, your boss and -- yes -- your significant other has never been greater. So why would you head into these conversations with anything less than the most current conventional wisdom?

Check out the list below for who and what is hot, and what's not cool to spout off about. Your ability to be out front on this will cement your celebrity status within the office, at the bar and in the home for the rest of the year.

What's Hot, What's Not: The 2002 NCAA Tournament
Category Hot Not
Directional school
Southern Illinois

Central Connecticut State
Premature MOP favorite Steve Blake Casey Jacobsen
This year's Gonzaga
Illinois-Chicago

Gonzaga
Fan
Ashley Judd

John Stockton
"Forget our academics"
Notre Dame

Duke
Old coach Steve Fisher Jim Boeheim
Young coach Sidney Green (Fla. Atlantic) Matt Doherty
Really-needs-a-win coach Bobby Knight Bill Self
"He's due" coach
Kelvin Sampson (Okla.)

Al Skinner (B.C.)
Hoops hot-bed Ohio Georgia
Perennial underachiever
Cincinnati

Missouri
Nickname Salukis (Southern Illinois) Wildcats (pick any)
Cheerleaders
UCLA
(We're not that mean)
Small conference
Horizon

America East
Mid-major conference
Mizzou Valley

WAC
Power conference
Pac-10

Atlantic 10
Sleeper
Xavier

Wake Forest
Bandwagon Final Four pick
Maryland

Arizona
Carry-the-team PG
Cordell Henry (Marquette)

Steve Logan (Cincy)
Go-to scorer Juan Dixon (Maryland) Kareem Rush (Mizzou)
Upset special San Diego State over Illinois Hampton, Part Deux
Lock to choke
Indiana

Ohio State
Phrase at the office "Two entry-sheets, please." "So, it wasn't a recession?"
Sub-region Albuquerque, N.M. Greenville, S.C.
NBA stock Chris Wilcox (Maryland) James White (Florida)
"State"
Mississippi

Oklahoma
"Williams" on hot seat Roy (Kansas) Gary (Maryland)
Sartorial style (coach) Snappy suit Sweaters
Sartorial style (player) Roc-a-fella Sean John
Bench superstition Locked arms Timed feet stomp
Jersey to be seen in
San Diego State

Miami (Fla.)
Say hello, say goodbye
Montana

Florida Atlantic
"Sound-smarter" buzzwords for the water cooler "Record vs. RPI 1-50" "Um ... Duke's good."
Conventional wisdom You need an experienced point guard You need depth
Defense Multiple zones Straight man-to-man
Hot coming in
Gonzaga

Stanford
Hairstyle The high 'fro Cornrows
Three-point shooter
Kirk Hinrich (Kansas)

Jason Gardner (Arizona)
First-round matchup Wyoming-Gonzaga Duke-Winthrop
"Get over it already" The Cincy-Oklahoma "Who's No. 1?" debate Gonzaga as a 6 seed
Fashion statement High socks Headbands
Discussion topic "How's your Greenville?" "How's that presentation?"
Trend Return of power leagues Mid-majors are a force
"OH-ver-RAY-ted!"
Indiana a 5?

Pittsburgh a 3?
NIT favorite
Virginia

Butler
Will screw your pool sheet every time
UCLA

The Big Ten
NCAA coach convention hot-button issue Tanking the conference tourneys Recruiting LeBron James
Pity for burst bubble
Utah State

Memphis
Strategy 3-point bombs away Half-court execution
Cliché "Survive and advance" "One game at a time"
Storyline Fourth No. 1 as weakest link KU, MD, Duke FF locks
Least likely to be underexposed Jason Williams (Duke) Frank Williams (Illinois)
Needs more hype Luke Ridnour (Oregon) Drew Gooden (Kansas)
Hottest ticket D.C. sub-regional 64 vs. 65 play-in
"One Shining Moment" cover-band wish
Alicia Keys

Enrique Iglesias
Duke flaw to watch Jason William's FT percentage Carlos Boozer's fouls
Spotlight-stealer Quin Snyder to DePaul? Tim Floyd to Purdue?
Human highlight reel Marcus Hatten (St. John's) Sam Clancy (USC)
Bandwagon team
Oklahoma

Illinois
Potential second-round matchup Cincinnati-UCLA Pitt-Cal

Everyone out there thinks they know the hot sleeper or the favorite that can't miss. Well, Page 2 already has heard it all, and here's what we think of the conventional wisdom on picking this year's bracket big winners:

Page 2 bracket picks
Category We like We don't like
East fave Maryland Georgia
East sleeper N.C. State Texas Tech
West fave Gonzaga Cincinnati
West sleeper Xavier Missouri
Midwest fave Kansas Oregon
Midwest sleeper Florida Texas
South fave Duke Alabama
South sleeper USC Indiana
Has it easy Duke The West
Got hosed Gonzaga Georgia
Pick for your boss Kansas over Duke Alabama over Gonzaga
Pick for yourself
Maryland over ...

... Duke

Dan Shanoff is a regular contributor to Page 2.




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THE HOT LIST