NCAA Tournament matchups

Posted: March 23, 2007

North Carolina vs. Southern California

NCAA East Regional Semifinal

When: Tonight, 9:57 (approximate)

Where: Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV/Radio: CBS3/WPEN (950-AM).

Records: North Carolina 30-6, USC 25-11

History: UNC leads the series, 7-1. The Trojans' only win was last season, 74-59, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

How they got here: No. 1 North Carolina defeated No. 16 Eastern Kentucky, 86-65, and No. 9 Michigan State, 81-67. No. 5 USC beat No. 12 Arkansas, 77-60, and No. 4 Texas, 87-68.

Coaches: Roy Williams is 105-29 in 4 years at North Carolina and 523-130 in 19 years overall. Tim Floyd is 42-24 in 2 years at USC, 285-154 in 14 years overall.

Three things North Carolina must do:

1. Start running, never slow down and keep the offensive pressure on. They average 86.1 points and shoot 50.7 percent, making them almost impossible to defend.

2. Jam the ball inside to Tyler Hansbrough (averaging 27 points in this NCAA) while making sure freshman blur Ty Lawson has the ball almost all the time. In his five postseason games, Lawson has 35 assists and 7 turnovers.

3. Get to the foul line, where it has attempted 270 more free throws than its opponents.

Three things USC must do:

1. Find a way to slow down UNC while keeping the game in the halfcourt, where its terrific halfcourt defense has held teams to just 39 percent shooting.

2. Keep the game in the 70s. If it gets into the 80s, the Trojans may not have enough firepower to keep up.

3. Attack UNC's questionable defense at the right moments and make sure Nick Young and Lodrick Stewart, who combine to shoot a sensational 45 percent from the arc, get the majority of the shots.

What to expect: You look at UNC's talent and you wonder how it lost six games. Well, it wasn't because of offense. These Tar Heels can really score. The big question is: Do they want to defend every possession or do they just want to get the possession over so they can go score again. USC's chance is to control the pace, limit the possessions, get into the 40 percent range from the arc and make it a 4-minute game at the end. This really could happen. Still, I think Carolina is just too big and too talented. Their defense may catch up with them soon, but probably not tonight.

- Dick Jerardi

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Georgetown vs. Vanderbilt

NCAA East Regional Semifinal

When: Tonight, 7:27 p.m.

Where: Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV/Radio: CBS3/WPEN (950-AM)

Records: Georgetown 28-6, Vanderbilt 22-11

History: Georgetown won at Vanderbilt in November, 86-70. It was the Hoyas' second game of the season, Vandy's first.

How they got here: No. 2 Georgetown defeated No. 15 Belmont, 80-55, and No. 7 Boston College, 62-55. No. 6 Vanderbilt beat No. 11 George Washington, 77-44, and No. 3 Washington State, 78-74 (2OT).

Coaches: John Thompson III is 70-29 in 3 years at Georgetown and 138-71 in 7 years overall. Kevin Stallings is 144-107 in 8 years at Vanderbilt, 267-170 in 14 years overall.

Three things Georgetown must do:

1. Guard the three-point line, where the Commodores do their most damage. The Hoyas hold teams to 30.4 percent shooting from the arc.

2. Run its offense through the big three (Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert and Jonathan Wallace). They combined for 53 points in the November meeting.

3. Be as efficient as it has been all season. The Hoyas are ranked in the top five in scoring defense (56.9 points), field-goal defense (38.2 percent) and field-goal offense (50.5 percent).

Three things Vanderbilt must do:

1. Make at least 10 threes and outscore the Hoyas from the three-point line by at least 15 points. In the November game, Vandy was just 5-for-21 from the arc.

2. Not get tired from spending so much time defending each Georgetown possession.

3. Hope its star, Derrick Byars, the SEC Player of the Year, has another huge game.

What to expect: The Hoyas have won 16 of 17 by doing all the little things right. They are not an offensive juggernaut, but they don't have to be as they control the pace of the games and make every possession an ordeal. Vanderbilt averages 76.6 points, but is not likely to sniff that number here. Hibbert seems to be getting better with each possession. Green is almost an impossible matchup. Vandy, which has three players with more than 70 treys and has outscored its opponents by 222 points from the arc, will be trying to win the game from distance. Georgetown will be trying to win it much nearer the basket. I love the three. I love the way Georgetown is playing even more.

- Dick Jerardi

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Florida vs. Butler

NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal

When: Tonight, 7:10

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

TV/Radio: CBS-3/WPEN (950-AM)

Records: Florida 31-5; Butler 29-6

History: In the only meeting between the two, Florida won, 69-68, in overtime in the first round of the 2000 NCAA. LaVall Jordan, now a Bulldogs assistant, missed two free throws with 8.1 seconds left, setting up Mike Miller's buzzer-beater for the win.

How they got here: No. 1 Florida defeated No. 16 Jackson State, 112-69, and No. 9 Purdue, 74-67. No. 5 Butler defeated No. 12 Old Dominion, 57-46, and No. 4 Maryland, 62-59.

Coaches: Billy Donovan is 257-103 in 11 years at Florida, 292-123 in 13 seasons overall. Todd Lickliter is 131-60 in six seasons at Butler and overall.

Three things Florida must do:

1. Play its game. Far more athletic at every position, Florida has made its name on high-octane offense. Against a Butler team that only goes seven deep, that's a huge bonus.

2. Guard the three-point line. The Bulldogs love the arc. They took 293 three-pointers this season, ninth most in Division I and have no less than six guys who can shoot from outside.

3. Don't lollygag. The Gators have allowed teams to stay in games a little longer than necessary this season. They don't want to get down to a ball-control team like Butler.

Three things Butler must do:

1. Control the tempo. The Bulldogs aren't afraid to run the shot clock down. That's a must against Florida. The Bulldogs can't try to play bucket-for-bucket against the Gators. They don't have the bodies to do it.

2. Look to its bread-and-butter, its defense. Butler has held 21 opponents under 60 points this season. That will be a tall order against a Gators team that shoots 50 percent from the floor, but if the Bulldogs can frustrate Florida enough, they'll be in it.

3. Take care of the basketball. The Bulldogs committed just 9.4 turnovers per game, tops in Division I. Never will that be more important. Florida turns mistakes into fastbreaks in a heartbeat.

What to expect: Florida has had one thing in mind since cutting down the nets last year in Indy. With the rest of the country falling in love with Kansas, don't be surprised if the Gators remind everyone who the defending national champions are. Butler will have to play almost flawlessly to score the upset.

- Dana Pennett O'Neil

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Oregon vs. UNLV

NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal

When: Tonight, 9:40.

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

TV/Radio: CBS-3/WPEN (950-AM)

Records: Oregon 28-7; UNLV 30-6

History: This is just the third meeting between the two schools. Oregon won the first meeting, 94-77, in 1975, and UNLV the second, 78-67, in 1977.

How they got here: No. 3 Oregon defeated No. 14 Miami (Ohio), 58-56, and No. 11 Winthrop, 75-61. 1 No. 7 UNLV defeated No. 10 Georgia Tech, 67-63, and No. 2 Wisconsin, 74-68.

Coaches: Ernie Kent is 192-119 in his 10th year at Oregon and 282-199 in 16 seasons overall. Lon Kruger is 64-33 in three seasons at UNLV and 382-266 in 20 years overall.

Three things Oregon must do:

1. Not get sloppy. UNLV has forced four more turnovers than it has committed on average this season. As much as Oregon likes to play fast, fast can't equate to messy or it could spell disaster.

2. Rebound. Never a great team on the boards, the Ducks can not afford to allow UNLV to get easy buckets.

3. Defend the arc. It's well-known UNLV has a ton of shooters and Oregon can't sleep on anyone.

Three things UNLV must do:

1. Not try to be the running Runnin' Rebels. UNLV can score with the best of them but it can't keep pace with Oregon. If the Rebels get in a track meet, they lose.

2. Command the paint. Oregon isn't a great interior team, so UNLV needs shot-blocker extraordinaire Joel Anthony to make his presence known inside.

3. Don't be fooled by Tajuan Porter. The rookie is only 5-6 but he can sink threes like nobody's business and has been the difference in games when opponents think only about Aaron Brooks.

What to expect: Though hardly Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV, these Rebels aren't afraid to run, which means that this score could get up there. Oregon, though, has more firepower and also plays better defense, which will be the real difference in this one.

- Dana Pennett O'Neil

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