Today's regional finals

March 26, 2006|By ORLANDO SENTINEL

Washington

No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 11 George Mason

Time, TV -- 2:40 p.m., chs. 13, 9

Records -- Connecticut 30-3; George Mason 26-7.

How they got here -- Connecticut def. No. 16 Albany, 72-59, No. 8 Kentucky, 87-83; No. 5 Washington, 98-92, in OT; George Mason def. No. 6 Michigan State, 75-65; No. 3 North Carolina, 65-60; No. 7 Wichita State, 63-55.

The buzz -- George Mason is the first double-digit seed to get to a regional final since 2002, when No. 10 Kent State and No. 12 Missouri did it. The only double-digit seed to ever reach the Final Four was No. 11 LSU in 1986. If George Mason gets to the Final Four, it will be one of the biggest stories in tournament history. The Patriots will want to slow the tempo today, hoping UConn gets flustered and throws up some bad shots. It's vital that center Jai Lewis (Aberdeen) and forward Will Thomas (Mount St. Joseph) stay on the floor and out of foul trouble. They are the only big guys the Patriots can count on. It's also vital that the Patriots hit several three-pointers if they want to pull the monumental upset. UConn has showed a tendency to play to the level of its opponents. Point guard Marcus Williams has been the team's best player in the tournament. Look for UConn to rotate its big men frequently to try to get George Mason's big guys in foul trouble. And maybe this is the game where ultra-talented UConn forward Rudy Gay (Archbishop Spalding) decides to play hard for 40 minutes.

Minneapolis

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 3 Florida

Time, TV -- 5:05 p.m., chs. 13, 9

Records -- Villanova 29-4; Florida 30-6.

How they got here -- Villanova def. No. 16 Monmouth, 58-45; No. 8 Arizona, 82-78; No. 4 Boston College, 60-59, in OT; Florida def. No. 14 South Alabama, 76-50; No. 11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 82-60; No. 7 Georgetown, 57-53.

The buzz -- This one will be decided by how much pressure Villanova is able to get against Florida, specifically point guard Taurean Green. If Green runs the offense efficiently and gets the ball to the Gators' big men, Florida is in good shape. If he is flustered on the perimeter -- either takes bad shots and/or makes bad passes -- Villanova is in good shape. Villanova forces almost 16 turnovers per game and has six guys with at least 20 steals. Villanova starts four guards, none of whom is taller than 6 feet 3. Randy Foye and Allan Ray are the big scorers, and point guard Kyle Lowry may be the quickest guard Florida has seen this season. Villanova shoots just 42.3 percent from the field, barely better than the 42.1 percent it allows opponents. But the Wildcats have taken 162 more shots than their foes, and have 214 more three-point attempts. Neither team has a depth advantage. Florida is looking to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2000, when it lost in the final to Michigan State. Villanova hasn't been to the Final Four since 1985, when the Wildcats won it all with a stunning victory over Georgetown.

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