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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Today’s capsules

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East Region

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Georgetown

Time: 4:05 p.m.

Rrecords: North Carolina 31-6, Georgetown 29-6.

How they got here: North Carolina d. No. 16 Eastern Kentucky, 86-65, d. No. 9 Michigan State, 81-67, d. No. 5 USC, 74-64; Georgetown d. No. 15 Belmont, 80-55, d. No. 7 Boston College, 62-55, d. No. 6 Vanderbilt, 66-65.

The buzz: UNC unleashed a fearsome 18-0 second-half run to overcome a 16-point deficit and beat USC on Friday night. The Heels also played much better defense in the second half. Georgetown isn't likely to attempt to run with the Heels, as the Trojans did. Instead, Georgetown will look to make it a halfcourt game on both ends, relying on its inside strength. North Carolina won Friday night despite a horrible game from Tyler Hansbrough, who seemed intimidated by USC freshman big man Taj Gibson. UNC won't win this with another bad game from Hansbrough, who will be going against a more physical frontcourt on Sunday than he saw Friday. UNC enjoys an advantage on the perimeter. The Hoyas' only legititmate three-point threat is PG Jonathan Wallace, and you can expect the Heels to switch defenders on Wallace frequently in an attempt to wear him down. Georgetown needs big games from 7-2 C Roy Hibbert and F Jeff Green, who is going to cause the Heels some matchup problems. And surely the Hoyas know that in four of UNC's six losses, the Heels were outrebounded. UNC, which has a big depth advantage, needs to look to attack Green and Hibbert, both of whom can be foul-prone.

The pick: Georgetown.

Midwest Region

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 3 Oregon

Time: 1:40 p.m.

Records: Florida 32-5, Oregon 29-7.

How they got here: Florida d. No. 16 Jackson State, 112-69, d. No. 9 Purdue, 74-67, d. No. 5 Butler, 65-57; Oregon d. No. 14 Miami of Ohio, 58-56, d. No. 11 Winthrop, 75-61, d. No. 7 UNLV, 76-72.

The buzz: This one is all about Oregon's perimeter shooters. The Ducks are hitting an otherworldly 46.8 percent of their three-pointers in the tourney and all five of the Ducks' starters can hit from outside. Gs Aaron Brooks and Tajuan Porter have combined to make 185 three-pointers. A bit over 42 percent of the Ducks' shots come from three-point range (they average 24 three-point attempts per game), and Oregon doesn't really look to go inside. Maarty Leunen is the Ducks' leading rebounder, but offensively he is more comfortable shooting jumpers than he is in the low post. The Ducks have more quickness on the perimeter than Florida, and it'll be interesting to see how UF tries to handle Brooks and Porter. Gators PG Taurean Green needs to ramp up his defensive intensity. Four Ducks starters shoot at least 78 percent from the line, too. The Gators allow foes to make a bit less than 30 percent of their three-point attempts; still, look for Florida to try to do what it did Friday against Butler: invite the drive. In that scenario, UF's big men get more involved defensively. Offensively, UF needs to be prepared for a scrambling-style defense, and Green must value every possession, which hasn't always happened this tournament. Florida needs Walter Hodge and Corey Brewer to try to get into the lane; against the Ducks, that often leads to easy baskets because of their lack of size.

The pick: Oregon.

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