NCAA Division II

College Basketball

March 13, 2004|By Bill Free

South Atlantic Regional

Site: Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Ga.

When: Today (quarterfinals), tomorrow (semifinals), Tuesday (championship game)

2003 champion: Bowie State

2004 favorite: Kennesaw State. The top-seeded Owls (29-4) have the home-court advantage and are riding a 20-game winning streak. Kennesaw State is coming off two dramatic victories to capture its first Peach Belt Conference tournament championship. Two-time Peach Belt Player of the Year Terrence Hill leads Kennesaw with a 15.8-point average.

Dark horse: Virginia Union. Fourth-seeded Virginia Union (25-4) has been overshadowed by final four participant Bowie State recently, but the Panthers had a clear path to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament championship this year once the heavily favored Bulldogs were upset by North Carolina Central in the opening round. Virginia Union is led by Darius Hargrove (17.8 points), who was the CIAA tournament Most Valuable Player after scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the championship game victory over N.C. Central.

Player to watch: Hill, Kennesaw State. Hill is a 6-foot-6 slasher who has a flair for the dramatic. He made a 12-foot jumper with .6 of a second on the clock, lifting the Owls to a come-from-behind 72-70 victory over Columbus State in the Peach Belt tournament final.

Outlook: If Anton Jenifer and third-seeded Bowie State (22-5) can bounce back from that puzzling loss to North Carolina Central, the Bulldogs could make a strong run at a second straight South Atlantic Regional title. Despite stumbling in the CIAAs, Jenifer is averaging a league-leading 21.7 points, which places him 18th in the nation. Bowie State begins play today, meeting sixth-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne (19-6) in the opening round at 2:30 p.m.

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