No. 2 Utah (26-3) vs. No. 15 Navy (20-8)

March 14, 1997|By Alan Goldstein

What: First round, NCAA West Regional

Where: McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.

When: Today: 5: 12 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WNAV (1430 AM)

How they got here: Navy finished the season with nine straight victories and edged Bucknell, 76-75, to win the Patriot League crown. Utah has won 11 in a row, but needed last-second shots by senior F Keith Van Horn to edge SMU and New Mexico to advance in the Western Athletic Conference tournament before defeating TCU, 89-68, in the title game.

Conference record: Navy won the Patriot League with a 10-2 record. Utah won the WAC with a 15-1 record.

Ranking: Navy is unranked. Utah is No. 2 in the country.

NCAA tournament record: Navy is 8-10, but this is the Midshipmen's first trip since 1994. David Robinson led Navy to the final eight in 1986 before bowing to Duke. Utah is 22-21 in 18 NCAA appearances, winning the tournament in 1944 by beating Dartmouth, 42-40.

Coaches: Don DeVoe is 80-61 in five seasons at Navy, 408-289 overall. He is one of 13 coaches to have coached three different teams to the NCAA tournament, having also taken Virginia Tech and Tennessee. Rick Majerus is 177-54 in eight years at Utah and 276-106 overall.

Key matchups: Navy will be giving up significant size inside. Hassan Booker, at 6 feet 3, will likely defend against All-American Van Horn, and Mike Palumbo, 6-7, will start against 6-11, 269-pound center Michael Doleac. Both Van Horn and Doleac have the ability to shoot from the outside.

What Navy has to do to win: Create turnovers, get the slower Utes in an up-tempo game, and limit Utah to one shot per possession.

What Utah needs to win: Use Van Horn and Doleac down low, keep Booker off the offensive boards and withstand the defensive pressure of Brian Walker and Michael Green.

Bottom line: Utah has too much size and talent for Navy, which had trouble winning outside the Patriot League.

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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