South Regional

Ncaa Men's Tournament

March 26, 2000|By Paul McMullen

Today's championship game

No. 7 Tulsa (32-4) vs. No. 8 North Carolina (21-13)

Site: Austin, Texas

Time: 2: 40

Line: Tulsa by 2 1/2

Conference records: Tulsa topped the Western Athletic Conference with a 12-2 record, but lost to Fresno State in the conference tournament. North Carolina went 9-7 and finished in a third-place tie in the Atlantic Coast Conference, then lost its tournament opener to Wake Forest.

Coaches: Bill Self is 74-26 in three seasons at Tulsa, 130-79 in seven seasons overall. Bill Guthridge is 79-27 in three seasons at North Carolina.

Starting lineups: Tulsa: PG Greg Harrington (11.0 ppg, 2.9 apg); G Tony Heard (9.8 ppg, 3.4 apg); G Marcus Hill (11.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg); PF Eric Coley (11.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.5 apg); C Brandon Kurtz (11.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg). North Carolina: PG Ed Cota (10.3 ppg, 8.2 apg); SG Joe Forte (16.4 ppg); SF Jason Capel (12.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg); PF Kris Lang (8.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg); C Brendan Haywood (13.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg).

Bench strength: Tulsa's rotation typically consists of seven players, as junior David Shelton is its leading scorer and Dante Swanson helps off the bench. Converted football player Julius Peppers helps North Carolina inside, and Max Owens provided 12 solid minutes against Tennessee.

Key matchup: Haywood has a tendency to disappear, but so does Kurtz. Both teams need a consistent game from their center. Kurtz can run the floor, and Haywood better.

What Tulsa needs to do to win: The Golden Hurricane needs to do what it has done all season, push the pace and pressure the opponent's perimeter players. It has to get out on Cota and Forte, and stop their dribble penetration.

What North Carolina needs to do to win: The Tar Heels must remain patient and feed Haywood and Lang in the low post. North Carolina must also play transition defense better than it's accustomed to.

Bottom line: North Carolina has the offensive talent to extend Tulsa's defense like it hasn't been this season. Guthridge is finally getting great guidance from Cota, but Self is pushing all the right buttons.

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