Vitale: 2002-03 Season Preview Index

ESPN.com's 2002-03 College Basketball Preview

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 Season Predictions
With the season winding down, see how ESPN's Dick Vitale did picking his conference of the year, player of the year and top diaper dandy.
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Western Kentucky leads mid-major pack


Across the nation, coaches like Dennis Felton, Mark Few, Paul Westphal, Dana Altman and John Phillips don't want to hear about the term "mid-major"!

Jimmy Miggins
Leading scorer Jimmy Miggins is back to lead Pepperdine after a 22-8 season.
Are you serious? They don't feel they are mid-majors ... just ask Western Kentucky about its season-opening win over Kentucky last year! Talk to Pepperdine and the Waves will mention wins over Pac-10 members USC and UCLA among the impressive victories of a year ago.

Gonzaga has knocked off plenty of the so-called big-time schools in recent years.

The definition of mid-major is not about ability to play with the big guys. It is about facilities, recruiting budgets, exposure is not the same as those in the major conferences.

To me, it is a compliment considering the roadblocks against them. They can play on an even basis, especially on a neutral floor.

Keep an eye on these five "mid-majors," baby, five that will make noise come tournament time:

If Chris Marcus is healthy, it is going to be a big year. There is a lot more talent than just Marcus, with David Boyden and Patrick Sparks contributing big-time! Watch out for the opener as the Hilltoppers travel to Tucson to take on my preseason No. 1, Arizona. Lute Olson never dodges the best teams, and Western Kentucky loves challenges (just look at Kentucky last year).

The Zags have to replace Dan Dickau, but there is a ton of returning talent. Zach Gourde, Cory Violette, Ronny Turiaf and outside threat Blake Stepp will give Gonzaga experience and another solid season.

The Golden Hurricane have an outstanding senior talent with the backcourt of Dante Swanson and Antonio Reed plus forward Kevin Johnson. Phillips has four starters back from a team that won 27 games last year.

The Waves are athletic and deep. Jimmy Miggins is on the wing and ready to rock and roll. Westphal's team should be sensational once again.

Altman gets the most out of his people. The Bluejays protect the basketball, make good shots and play solid defense. Kyle Korver is a dangerous outside shooter.

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