Midwest Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 25, 2001|By Brent Jones

Today's final

No. 1 Illinois (27-7) vs. No. 2 Arizona (26-7)

Site: Alamodome, San Antonio

Time: 5 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9.

Coaches: Bill Self is 27-7 in one season at Illinois and 157-87 overall. Lute Olson is 448-134 in 18 seasons at Arizona and 640-226 overall.

Illinois' lineup: Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Williams played like it against Kansas, scoring a career-high 30 points. Williams needed to have a big night because fellow guard Cory Bradford shot 1-for-13, including 1-for-9 from three-point territory. The Illini's frontcourt of Sergio McClain, Brian Cook and Marcus Griffin wore down the Jayhawks on the boards (Illinois had 12 more rebounds). Ten came from McClain, who also added 10 points. Griffin, who fouled out with just two points, was off and will undoubtedly need to play better against the Wildcats' Loren Woods.

Arizona's lineup: Forward Richard Jefferson and Woods were spectacular against Ole Miss. Jefferson used his slashing style to score 15 points and grab 11 rebounds. The 7-foot-1 Woods led the Wildcats with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The backcourt struggled though, with Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner combining to shoot 6-for-19. Michael Wright had a quiet 10 points in only 28 minutes.

What Illinois has to do to win: Make some three-pointers because Arizona will surely score. The Illini made 20 three-pointers combined in their first two games, but went 6-for-26 against Kansas.

What Arizona has to do to win: Dominate in the post with Woods and Michael Wright. Wright had an off-game against Ole Miss so expect to see him make up for it today. The Wildcats will also need help scoring outside from either Arenas or Gardner.

Bottom line: The teams split two regular-season meetings with Arizona winning in Hawaii and losing at Illinois less than a month later. Both teams are playing well so this one should be the most entertaining. Arizona won a low-scoring battle against Mississippi and should have a little easier time scoring enough points today to make its first trip to the Final Four since 1997.

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