Vs. MICHIGAN (23-7)

MIDWEST: MARYLAND (18-11)

March 25, 1994|By Don Markus

Time, site: 10:30 tonight approx., Reunion Arena, Dallas

TV: Channels 11, 9

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM)

Coaches: Gary Williams, 79-68 in five years at Maryland, 286-196 overall; Steve Fisher, 122-44 at Michigan in five seasons, plus the 1989 NCAA tournament.

Guards: A lot here depends on how the teams match up. While Maryland could have the advantage if sophomore Duane Simpkins plays sophomore Dugan Fife at both ends, there was speculation that Jalen Rose, at 6-8, could see some time on the 6-foot Simpkins in order to disrupt Maryland's offense. If that happens, look for Johnny Rhodes to try to work against Fife inside. If Rose sticks to playing Exree Hipp, with Fife on Simpkins and Jimmy King on Rhodes, the edge could go to Maryland.

Forwards: Rose and Ray Jackson are nearly the same height as Hipp and freshman Keith Booth, but their experience in the NCAA tournament far exceeds their Maryland counterparts. Rose went to the free-throw line 18 times in the first two tournament games this year, making 15. Booth must stay out of the kind of foul trouble that hampered him during parts of the regular season, and again last week against Massachusetts. If Rose gets either Hipp or Booth in foul trouble, Maryland could be in for a long night unless Mario Lucas has the kind of heroics he did against the Minutemen.

Centers: In what is likely to be the key matchup, Maryland's Joe Smith and Michigan's Juwan Howard present an interesting contrast. Smith went from receiving no attention in the preseason to being national Freshman of the Year. Howard has played in the shadows of others throughout his Michigan career -- starting with former teammate Chris Webber -- and has emerged during this year's NCAA tournament as a potential first-round NBA pick if he decides to forgo his final year of eligibility.

Bench: This probably won't be a big factor, since neither team gets much out of its reserves on a consistent basis. Lucas and freshman guard Matt Kovarik, who sat out yesterday's practice with a mild ankle sprain, have both shown flashes of being worthy of more playing time, and their inconsistent role often affects their performance. Michigan's bench gives it better size with 6-7 freshman Oliver Saint Jean, 6-8 freshman Makhtar Ndiaye and 6-7 Olivier Saint-Jane, but it limits the Wolverines offensively and on defense outside the lane. If Lucas is hitting, the edge goes to Maryland.

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