saturday's games

April 04, 2009|By BRENTLEY ROMINE | BRENTLEY ROMINE,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Tonight's NCAA men's tournament semifinals in Detroit:

Connecticut (31-4) vs. Michigan State (30-6)

Time: 6:07

Outlook: Luckily for UConn, C Hasheem Thabeet's message on his Facebook page was just an April Fool's Day joke. The 7-foot-3 center posted a comment that read: "OMG!!! Why me? So I failed a drug test. Not goin to Detroit. ..... " Unfortunately for Michigan State, Thabeet, who averages 13.5 points and 10.9 rebounds, is playing. The No. 1-seeded Huskies beat No. 3 seed Missouri, 82-75, to win the West Regional and advance to their third Final Four. Freshman Kemba Walker led UConn with 23 points, but senior G A.J. Price and senior F Jeff Adrian also have the ability to take over a game. However, if there is one thing that the Spartans have going for them, it's coach Tom Izzo. Izzo has five Final Four appearances with Michigan State, and the Spartans are 9-0 as a No. 2 seed in the tournament. They defeated No. 1 seed Louisville to win the Midwest Regional. Although UConn should have the upper hand in the paint, if it turns the ball over 17 times as it did against Missouri, Michigan State can and will capitalize.

Prediction: Connecticut 75,

Michigan State 71

North Carolina (32-4) vs. Villanova (30-7)

Time: 8:47

Outlook: No. 1 seed North Carolina did a great job of handling No. 2 Oklahoma in a 72-60 win over the Sooners in the South Regional final. Sooners star Blake Griffin had 23 points and 16 rebounds against Carolina, but the Tar Heels advanced, thanks in large part to senior PG Ty Lawson, who scored 19 points. What was even more impressive was that North Carolina won convincingly even though senior F-C Tyler Hansbrough made just two baskets and finished with eight points. If the Tar Heels can win without a solid night from their best big man, then it'll be awfully tough to beat them when Hansbrough is on. He is averaging 20.9 points and 8.1 rebounds this season and should have no trouble dominating the post against a smaller Villanova team. But unlike Oklahoma, the Wildcats offer a multitude of scoring options; five Villanova players average more than nine points. Senior F Dante Cunningham leads Villanova with 16.2 points per game. It will be up to him and G Scottie Reynolds, who made the game-winning layup in a 78-76 East Regional final win against No. 1 seed Pittsburgh, to out-duel Hansbrough and Lawson.

Prediction: North Carolina 84, Villanova 78

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