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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENT

East Regional

March 15, 1997|CHRIS DUFRESNE

* No. 1 North Carolina (25-6) vs. No. 9 Colorado (22-9)--OK, so it's not Dean Smith vs. Bobby Knight. "First and foremost, I'd like to thank the media for not acknowledging Colorado was even in the tournament," Buffalo Coach Ricardo Patton said after his team defeated Indiana in Thursday's late game. Given the way Colorado dismantled Indiana, you can bet Smith would rather have played Knight as he tries to break Adolph Rupp's record for victories today. The Tar Heels ran their winning streak to 13 with Thursday night's victory over Fairfield and have advanced to the second round for the 17th consecutive year. The Tar Heels advanced by playing a near-perfect second half and committing a school-low two turnovers in the game. The concern today as the Tar Heels try to stop Colorado guard Chauncey Billups is the condition of guard Shammond Williams, hobbled by an ankle sprain suffered in practice before the Fairfield game. Another concern: Fairfield outrebounded North Carolina, 34-28. The Buffaloes, who trounced Indiana, will give the Tar Heels problems because they are an athletic team that can keep pace with North Carolina in an up-tempo game. The Buffaloes have held opponents to 34.5% shooting in their last six games.

* No. 4 Villanova (24-9) vs. No. 5 California (22-8)--Villanova freshman forward Tim Thomas scored 28 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds against Long Island, and center Jason Lawson regained some confidence with a 21-point, 12-rebound effort. California is wounded after surviving Princeton, 55-52. Already playing without Ed Gray, the injured Pac-10 player of the year, the Bears face the Wildcats hoping leading scorer Randy Duck, who averages 12 points, can complete the game. The senior guard sprained his left ankle with 5:06 left against Princeton. He returned to the game but did not practice Friday. The Bears welcome the style change after sweating out the victory over Princeton. Today's game will more resemble a Big East affair, a battle of brawn underneath. Tony Gonzalez, the hero of Thursday's victory, has drawn the defensive assignment against Villanova's Thomas. "This will give me the chance to show how good I can play defense," Gonzalez said.

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