Tonight's regional semifinals

Ncaa Tournament

March 23, 2007|By ORLANDO SENTINEL

East

No. 2 Georgetown vs. No. 6 Vanderbilt

Time, TV -- 7:27, chs. 13, 9

Records -- Georgetown 28-6; Vanderbilt 22-11

Line -- Georgetown by 7 1/2

How they got here -- Georgetown def. No. 15 Belmont, 80-55, and No. 7 Boston College, 62-55; Vanderbilt def. No. 11 George Washington, 77-44, and No. 3 Washington State, 78-74 (2OT)

The buzz -- These teams played in mid-November in Tennessee, with Georgetown winning by 16. The Hoyas carved up Vanderbilt's defense, which is no surprise considering the talent difference between Georgetown's big men and Vanderbilt's. The Commodores' hopes rest with their three-point shooters. Derrick Byars, Dan Cage and Shan Foster have to be hot, or Vanderbilt has no chance. Hoyas F Jeff Green and C Roy Hibbert should have success in the paint, and if Vanderbilt has to worry too much about that duo, G Jonathan Wallace - a good three-point shooter himself - is going to get open looks on the perimeter. In addition, the Hoyas' physical defense and rebounding ability are going to cause problems for Vanderbilt.

The pick -- Georgetown

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 S. California

Time, TV -- 9:57 (approximate), chs. 13, 9

Records -- North Carolina 30-6, USC 25-11

Line -- North Carolina by 8 1/2

How they got here -- North Carolina def. No. 16 Eastern Kentucky, 86-65, and No. 9 Michigan State, 81-67; USC def. No. 12 Arkansas, 77-60, and No. 4 Texas, 87-68

The buzz -- The Tar Heels are the deepest team in the tournament from players 1-10 and have tremendous athleticism. They want a fast pace (18 times the Heels have scored more than 85 points, and scored less than 70 just once) and have a number of weapons, both inside and out. They sometimes are lax on defense, though, something that can't be said about the Trojans. USC has good athletes, but the Trojans do not want to get into a track meet with the Heels. Instead, they'll look to control the tempo and try to have the game end up in the high 60s or low 70s. USC's lack of a true point guard could be problematic, considering the quickness of Heels PG Ty Lawson. Look for USC to be patient on offense and as physical as possible on defense. One guy to watch is USC freshman big man Taj Gibson, who is foul-prone; if he's on the bench, the Trojans are going to get eaten up inside.

The pick -- North Carolina

MIDWEST

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 5 Butler

Time -- 7:10.

Records -- Florida 31-5, Butler 29-6

Line -- Florida by 10 1/2

How they got here -- Florida def. No. 16 Jackson State, 112-69, and No. 9 Purdue, 74-67; Butler def. No. 12 Old Dominion, 57-46, and No. 4 Maryland, 62-59

The buzz -- Butler is small, slow and unathletic; the Bulldogs don't create a lot of turnovers or even hit a high percentage of shots. So why should Florida be afraid? Because Butler doesn't make mistakes (it is the only team in the nation that averages less than 10 turnovers), is solid from the line and usually is able to control the tempo. At the same time, Butler is small, slow and unathletic. Florida's perimeter defense is strong, so the Gators should crush the Bulldogs on the boards and get open looks from three-point range. Florida's frontcourt should have a huge day, and as long as the Gators don't get too impatient and commit a flurry of turnovers (we mean you, Taurean Green), they should win.

The pick -- Florida.

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Nev.-Las Vegas

Time -- 9:40 (approximate)

Records -- Oregon 28-7, UNLV 30-6

Line -- Oregon by 3

How they got here -- Oregon def. No. 14 Miami of Ohio, 58-56, and No. 11 Winthrop, 75-61; UNLV def. No. 10 Georgia Tech, 67-63, and No. 2 Wisconsin, 74-68

The buzz -- UNLV is the lowest-seeded team still alive in the tournament - but the Runnin' Rebels won 30 games, so this is no Cinderella story. UNLV is a well-coached, cohesive group with a nice collection of athletes. F Wendell White is a solid offensive player; he can score in the low post and also hit the 15-footer. Gs Wink Adams, Kevin Kruger and Michael Umeh are three-point threats, and reserve C Joel Anthony is one of the best shot-blockers in the nation. The Runnin' Rebels can't afford to let Oregon play at its pace; like many middle seeds, UNLV is going to want to bump-and-grind and be physical. The Ducks love to run, and in Gs Aaron Brooks, Tajuan Porter and Bryce Taylor, they have three good perimeter players who are athletic and can shoot the three. The Ducks' scrambling defense causes problems, though, and they're good from the free-throw line.

The pick -- Oregon

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