Sunday, March 17, 2002

Today's games

Enquirer staff and news services

        East Regional
       No.3 Georgia vs.
       No.11 Southern Illinois

        • Time/place: 2:20p.m./United Center, Chicago.

        • The buzz: Georgia sophomore F Jarvis Hayes was one of the best players in the SEC this season. He must produce offensively against a tough defense for the Bulldogs to advance. ... Southern Illinois senior C Rolan Roberts, a transfer from Virginia Tech, is a great shot-blocker and a big body in the low post. He and junior F Jermaine Dearman have to be active on defense and on the boards for SIU to pull another upset.

        SIU has a depth advantage over Georgia, and expect Salukis coach Bruce Weber to rotate a series of guys on Hayes. If SIU keeps him under wraps, it will win.

        • Pick: Southern Illinois.

        No.2 Connecticut vs.
       No.7 N.C. State

        • Time/place: 2:30p.m./MCI Center, Washington, D.C.

        • The buzz: UConn sophomore F Caron Butler is the Huskies' best player and he should have room to operate down on the blocks. He also is an effective shooter to 15 feet and will pose matchup problems for NC State. ... NC State senior G Anthony Grundy is the team's leading scorer, rebounder and assist man, yet the Wolfpack played superbly when he was on the bench with foul trouble against Michigan State in the first round. Grundy's offense will be vital against a UConn team that wants to force the tempo.

        N.C. State makes a living scoring easy baskets off a lot of backdoor cuts, so watch for UConn freshman C Emeka Okafor, who has been a shot-blocking machine.

        • Pick: UConn.

        No.1 Maryland vs.
       No.8 Wisconsin

        • Time/place: 5p.m./MCI Center, Washington, D.C.

        • The buzz: Maryland senior G Juan Dixon was the ACC's player of the year and has a quick release. Wisconsin has no one with his kind of quickness. ... Wisconsin junior G Kirk Penney is the Badgers' best offensive player, and he needs to be on from the outside.

        Maryland wants a fast pace, but there's no way the Badgers can run with the Terps. Expect Wisconsin to try to keep the score in the 60s. But also expect the Terps to enforce their will on the game and win by at least 10.

        • Pick: Maryland.

        South Regional

       No.3 Pittsburgh vs.
       No.6 California

        • Time/place: 2:35p.m./Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh.

        • The buzz: Pittsburgh junior PG Brandin Knight showed no ill effects from a quad injury in the Panthers' first-round win, but he'll be going against a much more athletic — and physical — defense today. ... California junior PG Shantay Legans knows his role: If Cal is to win, he must shut down Knight.

        Pittsburgh has been one of the nation's biggest surprises, thanks to Knight's play and the excellent coaching of Ben Howland. But Cal coach Ben Braun is no slacker, and this looks to be a close game because of the Golden Bears' defense.

        • Pick: Pittsburgh.

        Midwest Regional

       No.3 Mississippi State
       vs. No.6 Texas

        • Time/place: 2:15p.m./American Airlines Center, Dallas.

        • The buzz: Mississippi State sophomore C Mario Austin is one of the nation's most underrated players, and he makes the Bulldogs' offense go. If he's not scoring on the blocks, the Bulldogs can't win. ... Texas freshman PG T.J. Ford has a big task. Mississippi State plays great defense, but Ford must get into the lane on a consistent basis and make things happen. If he can do that, the Longhorns can pull the upset.

        Texas will enjoy a huge “home-court” advantage, but if Texas C James Thomas can't stop Austin, it won't matter.

        PICK: Texas, thanks to a partisan crowd — and Ford's skills.

        No.4 Illinois vs.
       No.12 Creighton

        • Time/place: 2:20p.m./United Center, Chicago.

        • The buzz: Illinois junior PG Frank Williams has been one of the nation's biggest mysteries this season. He is supremely talented and should dominate the Bluejays' backcourt. But too often this season, Williams has disappeared. ... Creighton senior F Kyle Korver didn't play well in the first round against Florida, but it didn't matter. He must shoot well for the Bluejays to pull another upset.

        The Illini should get a big boost from the crowd. But if Williams plays well, they won't need that boost.

        • Pick: Illinois.

        — Note: UC and XU not included


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Enquirer 'Page Two' power rankings

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