West Regional

March 23, 2000|By Don Markus

Tonight's semifinals

No. 6 Purdue (23-9) vs. No. 10 Gonzaga (26-8)

Site: Albuquerque, N.M.

Time: 7: 55

Line: Gonzaga by 2

Conference records: Purdue finished third in the Big Ten with a 12-4 record. Gonzaga finished second in the West Coast at 11-3.

Coaches: Gene Keady is 438-190 in 20 seasons at Purdue, 476-209 in 22 seasons overall. Gonzaga's Mark Few is 26-8 in his first season as a Division I coach.

Starting lineups: Purdue: PG Carsan Cunningham (10.8 ppg, 4.2 apg); G Jaraan Cornell (12.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg); F Brian Cardinal (14.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg); F Mike Robinson (11.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg); C Greg McQuay (8.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg). Gonzaga: PG Matt Santangelo (13.4 ppg, 6.4 apg); G Ryan Floyd (5.9 ppg); F Richie Frahm (17.0 ppg., 2.5 rpg); F Casey Calvary (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg); C Axel Dench (9.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg).

Bench strength: The Boilermakers have had sporadic help off the bench lately. Chad Kerkhof had a pair of threes in the opening-round win over Dayton, but didn't score against Oklahoma. Another sophomore guard, Maynard Lewis, had five rebounds but did not score in the first round, then added another four boards against the Sooners. With a late-season injury to Mike Nilson, the Bulldogs are a little short here. But Zach Gourde and Mark Spink will give Few some bodies to bang with the Boilermakers.

Key matchup: It likely will come down to which team can gain the advantage inside, especially between Cardinal and either Calvary or Dench. Few said that when Purdue beat Gonzaga last season, the Bulldogs were left beat up by a more physical team.

What Purdue needs to do to win: The Boilermakers need to shut down Santangelo, who is starting to get on the kind of roll he was last season in lifting the Cinderella 'Zags to an Elite Eight showdown with Connecticut. Gonzaga needs to show Purdue it can bang inside.

What Gonzaga needs to do to win: The Bulldogs need to hit some early threes, and Frahm has hit 112 of 218 this season. They also have to show a presence inside, and Calvary could be the player to give them some offense up front.

Bottom line: Keady's teams have not been too successful getting past the Sweet 16. A seven-time Coach of the Year in the Big Ten, Keady has won 15 NCAA tournament games, but is 1-4 in Sweet 16 games. Maybe Gonzaga can finish off what it nearly completed last year -- a run to the Final Four.

No. 4 LSU (28-5) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (20-13)

Site: Albuquerque, N.M.

Time: 10: 15

Line: LSU by 1 1/2

Conference records: LSU was first in the SEC's West Division with a 12-4 record. Wisconsin was sixth in the Big Ten at 8-8.

Coaches: John Brady is 50-38 in three seasons at LSU, 139-115 in nine seasons overall. Dick Bennett is 109-80 in five seasons at Wisconsin, 469-259 in 24 seasons overall.

Starting lineups: LSU: PG Torris Bright (10.2 ppg, 4.6 apg); G Lamont Roland (11.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg); F Stromile Swift (16.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.9 bpg); F Brian Beshara (11.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg); C Jabari Smith (12.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg). Wisconsin: PG Mike Kelly (5.2 ppg, 3.1 apg); G John Bryant (7.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg); F Andy Kowske (9.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg); F Duany Duany (5.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg) or Maurice Linton (4.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg); C Mark Vershaw (12.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg).

Bench strength: The Tigers have three players who averaged more than 12 minutes a game off the bench, and each has contributed. If LSU needs some perimeter offense, it might go to Collis Temple, who shot 38.2 from three-point range. The Badgers have four players averaging double-digit minutes off the bench, and reserves have outscored their counterparts 621-358.

Key matchup: While most would say it's whoever is guarding Swift, the most important head-to-head confrontation could come at point guard. If Kelly, a senior, can disrupt Bright, a freshman, the Tigers might not be able to get the ball inside or get out on the break as much as they want.

What LSU needs to do to win: The Tigers have to turn the game, played at a mile-high altitude, into a track meet. They are far too athletic for the Badgers, and if they can get their aerial game going to Swift and Smith inside, they could demoralize Wisconsin quickly.

What Wisconsin needs to do to win: The Badgers have slowed down Arizona and Fresno State in the first two rounds, so they have to do the same against LSU. Vershaw could cause some problems for Swift or Smith, since he likes to go both outside (20-for-35 on three-pointers) and in.

Bottom line: It will be a matter of which team controls the pace. If the Badgers can play half-court and shoot a high percentage of three-pointers (they're shooting 42.9 coming in), LSU might have problems getting into the run-and-gun game it prefers. But the Tigers' season has a magical feel to it already.

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