Today could set stage for UNC-Fla. rematch

But Penn State, Temple tests on way to Sweet 16

NCAA Tournament

March 18, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

NEW ORLEANS - If form holds in the South Regional today, the Sweet 16 in Atlanta next Friday will feature a rematch of last year's NCAA semifinals.

Florida beat North Carolina in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis last year, and a rematch will occur if the third-seeded Gators get by Temple and the second-seeded Tar Heels survive their test with Penn State at the Superdome today.

A North Carolina win would advance the Tar Heels to the Sweet 16 for an incredible 18th time in 21 seasons.

That run began in 1981, when rookie coach Matt Doherty was a freshman in Chapel Hill. He was a sophomore in 1982, when North Carolina got Dean Smith his first NCAA title with a win over Georgetown - at the Superdome. Florida coach Billy Donovan also has fond memories of New Orleans, as he was Rick Pitino's star guard when Providence made a Cinderella run to the Final Four at the Superdome in 1987.

North Carolina got through the Ides of March without any difficulty, but Sundays are another matter, as the Tar Heels have lost their last three games on that day of the week.

Doherty's team began its late-season struggles with a Feb. 18 loss at Clemson. Senior Day at North Carolina on March 4 was a bust, as the Tar Heels were beaten by hated rival Duke. Last Sunday, Doherty's team didn't show up against the Blue Devils in the ACC tournament final.

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