Dandy matches are coming up in Sweet 16

March 23, 1992|By Chris Zang | Chris Zang,Staff Writer

Does anybody really miss Wisconsin-Green Bay?

Just a week ago the second-guessers were having their fun with the NCAA selection committee. Seven days and 48 games later, no one's complaining for what a Sweet 16 has been set up.

It's a mix of old friends and newcomers, savvy veterans who know the road to the Final Four all too well and a team of Michigan freshmen too naive and cocky to care.

In the East, Duke meets Seton Hall in a Hurley reunion of sorts, Duke point guard Bobby facing little brother Danny. Seton Hall's Jerry Walker and Terry Dehere also were high school teammates of the Hurleys under their father, Bob Sr., at St. Anthony's High in New Jersey.

Those relationships have Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski just a little concerned.

"You usually don't like playing your friends, people who are that close," Krzyzewski said. "But that's the way the tournament is, and the one neat thing about it is that one of our teams will advance. Hopefully, it will be us, but it's just a great honor for all those kids to be in this position at this time in the year."

Speaking of a great honor, is anyone questioning Massachusetts' No. 3 seeding anymore in the East? The Minutemen used a three-pointer in overtime to beat Big East champ Syracuse and gain a spot opposite the king of the three-pointer, Kentucky, in Thursday's regional semifinal.

The Minutemen (30-4) won their 14th straight game when Harper Williams, a 6-foot-7 junior center, made his second three-pointer of the season with 30 seconds left in overtime as the shot clock expired.

Iowa State, who many said didn't belong in the tourney because of its 5-9 Big Eight record, gave Kentucky all it could handle. Massachusetts may do the same.

In the Southeast Regional, the site of Lexington, Ky., brings back sweet memories for Michigan coach Steve Fisher and bittersweet ones for Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton, who will meet Friday.

Fisher is taking the same path he did in 1989 when he won the national title as an interim coach after taking over for Bill Frieder.

Sutton, however, returns to the Rupp Arena where he coached Kentucky until leaving after the 1988 season when the Wildcats program was involved in a recruiting controversy and placed on probation.

"My only concern in going back to Kentucky is that the media will forget the purpose of the tournament and the fact that you have four teams trying to make it to the Final Four," Sutton said.

Top seed Ohio State and fourth-seeded North Carolina will meet in the other Southeast Regional Friday.

In the West, two schools who have been to the Sweet 16 countless times -- UCLA and Indiana -- take on newcomers New Mexico State and Florida State Thursday.

Indiana coach Bob Knight wasted no time starting the mind games, talking about enlisting the help of an ex-CIA man to use Chinese water torture on his team and of learning "cerebral reversal" techniques while camping with a wise man in the mountains north of Boise.

Florida State coach Pat Kennedy was undeterred. "What you saw today was the team of the future," he said after the Seminoles' win over Georgetown Saturday. "There wasn't a senior out there. It will open things up for the program and set a standard we can perpetuate year in and year out when we recruit kids. It's a great day for us."

No one had a greater day yesterday than University of Texas-El Paso, which beat longtime North Carolina assistant Roy Williams at his own game -- the four corners -- to defeat top seed Kansas and earn a date with Cincinnati in the Midwest semifinal Friday.

Some teams might have balked at junking the attack that had resulted in a 26-6 record and the regular-season Western Athletic Conference title. But not the Miners.

"We thought it was a great plan," said point guard Prince Stewart. "We started working on it in practice yesterday. We figured holding onto the ball longer would make getting some penetration that much easier."

Also penetrating to the Midwest semifinals are Georgia Tech and Memphis State. If Saturday's games are any indication, look for it to be close. Georgia Tech beat Southern Cal, 79-78, on a three-pointer at the buzzer and Memphis State upset Arkansas, 82-80.

Now, about that Wisconsin-Green Bay.

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