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Next Up - Santa Clara

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In 1978, Sports Illustrated started an article about Duke's ACC championship by saying "Duke. Now there's a proud but forgotten name." You could almost, but not quite, say it about Santa Clara, because the Broncos have an impressive history: seven sweet sixteens, five elite eights and one Final Four.

They've made 11 tournaments all together, upset Arizona twice and produced Kurt Rambis and Steve Nash. You know, that's really an impressive history. It's not on the level of a Duke, UNC, Kansas or Kentucky, certainly, but only a few programs are at that level. Santa Clara is plenty good. That tourney record is better than most ACC schools.

And they play in the West Coast Conference, where you find such toughies as Gonzaga, St. Mary's and BYU as well as such long-time basketball schools as Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount and San Francisco.

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This year, the Broncs are off to a solid start with an 11-2 record to date. Their losses are both in overtime to Utah State and Santa Barbara. UCSB was a legimate upset, but Utah State is one of those Western schools that always seems to be a tough out.

Like a lot of their conference mates and some other Western schools who are below the PAC-12 level, Santa Clara has made a point of recruiting Canada and further abroad. This obviously led them to their greatest player ever, Nash, and to two Canadians on the current roster as well as one Cameroonian.

The Broncos return seven upperclassmen, five sophomores and just one freshman.

They're a bit taller than your average mid-major, with three guys over 6-9 and two 6-8 forwards.

Their best offensive threats are Kevin Foster (6-2 SR, 18.2 ppg), Mark Trasolini (6-9 240 lb. SR, 16.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg), and Evan Roquemore (6-3 JR, 13.8 ppg, 6.5 apg).

Raymond Cowels III (6-4 206 lb. SR) and Brandon Clark (6-0 SO) are the other two primary players.

Nine guys are getting double figure minutes, suggesting a deep and experienced rotation, although the top five in minutes are a bit undersized. But as we like to say, mismatches can go either way.

Foster has been in a slump lately, shooting just 8-38 over the last three games.

Santa Clara, by the way, has played the #1 team 11 different times, losing them all. Many were to USF and Bill Russell; others were to UCLA with (then) Lew Alcindor and also the Walton Gang; others were to USF with Bill Cartwright and UNC in Michael Jordan's debut season.

Obviously Duke is favored, but Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating is trying to build a program which is scared of no one. Road trips to places like Cameron is a good way to go about it.