Tonight's semifinals

Women's Final Four

April 02, 2006

Maryland (32-4) vs. North Carolina (33-1)

Time, TV -- 7, ESPN

Seeds -- Maryland, No. 2 in Albuquerque Regional; North Carolina, No. 1 in Cleveland Regional.

Key matchup -- In the first meeting in Chapel Hill in February, Tar Heels point guard Ivory Latta missed the last 7:40 of the first half with three fouls and the Terps won in overtime. In the rematch, the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, Maryland point guard Kristi Toliver missed considerable time because of foul trouble, and North Carolina won, 91-80. The Tar Heels thrive on transition baskets from steals out of their 1-3-1 zone trap, and Toliver is Maryland's best ball handler. If the freshman, who had a career-high 28 points in the regional final against Utah, has any difficulty handling the press or can't avoid foul trouble, North Carolina will have a big edge.

Outlook -- The Terps would normally like to match North Carolina's racehorse pace, but it might be in Maryland's best interest to play a patient game, and make the Tar Heels execute in the half court. North Carolina has only recently proven it can play a half-court game against quality opposition, but not against a team with Maryland's firepower. The Terps will also need to keep pace with North Carolina on the glass. Maryland out-rebounded the Tar Heels 49-48 in their win in Chapel Hill, but gave up a 48-37 gap in the ACC tournament.

Milton Kent

Duke (30-3) vs. LSU (31-3)

Time, TV -- 9:30, ESPN

Seeds -- Duke, No. 1 in Bridgeport Regional; LSU, No. 1 in San Antonio Regional.

Key matchup -- The Blue Devils have the most prolific offense in the country, averaging 87 points. They won the first three rounds of the Bridgeport Regional by margins of 69, 34 and 25 points and have six players averaging eight points or more. The Lady Tigers had the sixth-stingiest defense in the nation entering the tournament, limiting opponents to 53 points per game. LSU has held 20 opponents to 55 points or fewer.

Outlook -- LSU is making its third consecutive appearance in the Final Four, and having been bounced in the national semifinals could be all the motivation the Lady Tigers need. One oft-ignored aspect of Duke's success is its defense, which has limited opponents to an average of 58 points. If the Blue Devils get another inspired performance from 6-foot-7 center Alison Bales (15 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in the 63-61 win over No. 2 seed Connecticut in the regional final), Duke may get back to the championship game for the first time since 1999.

Edward Lee

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