Minneapolis Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 13, 2006|By KEN MURRAY

GOING TO INDIANAPOLIS

Boston College has a prospective Sweet 16 game against former Big East foe Villanova, then an Elite Eight date against either second-seeded Ohio State or third-seeded Florida. That is do-able for the Eagles, who won 10 of 11 before giving Duke all it could handle in the ACC final in Greensboro, N.C., yesterday. The Eagles shoot well enough (.486) and play good enough defense (66.4 points a game) to make it.

TEAM ON THE RISE

No. 7 seed Georgetown will face a second-round test against Ohio State, but the Hoyas could surprise. Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman average more than 11 points a game to give them balance. And they led the Big East in scoring defense in conference games (60.3).

TEAM ON THE DECLINE

For a team with the No. 24 RPI, Arizona has grossly underachieved this season, losing 12 games. Since Jan. 28, the Wildcats are only 6-6, and their best player, Hassan Adams, has legal issues to deal with. A first-round matchup with Wisconsin could result in a quick exit.

CINDERELLA STORY

Nevada has owned the Western Athletic Conference, winning the past three regular-season titles. This year, the Wolf Pack swept the conference tournament and brings a 14-game winning streak to NCAA play. Nevada could do damage as a No. 5 seed because of 6-11 junior Nick Fazekas, who is averaging 21.8 points and 10.3 rebounds with 46 blocks. The Wolf Pack has not lost since dropping two in a row in January.

PRIME-TIME PLAYER

In Boston College's first year in the ACC, 6-7 senior forward Craig Smith earned first-team All-ACC honors, establishing himself as a force for the postseason. He averaged 17.3 points and 9.0 rebounds as a solid, if not flashy, player for the Eagles.

UNDERRATED PLAYER

Joakim Noah saved Florida from an embarrassing loss in the SEC championship game with a basket and a block in the waning seconds against South Carolina. One of three new starters for the Gators this season, the 6-11 Noah averaged 13.8 points and 6.7 rebounds with 66 blocks, but never attempted a three-pointer this season.

COACHING EDGE

Thad Matta took Ohio State to a 20-12 season a year ago, his first at Columbus, then followed it up with a 25-5 effort that included the Big Ten's regular-season title this season. The Buckeyes won their first 11 games and have taken 11 of their past 13 with a senior-dominated lineup (three fifth-year seniors start). Matta's stock has skyrocketed.

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