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What To Look For

March 18, 1997|GEORGE DOHRMANN

How they got here: In upsets of No. 7 Marquette and second-seeded Duke, 98-87, Providence shot 10 percentage points higher than in the regular season games and is holding opponents to nearly 10 fewer points. Tennessee Chattanooga is only the second 14th-seeded team to make the Sweet 16 and got there by beating Georgia, 73-30, and Illinois, 75-63, using a decided height advantage inside. Arizona advanced because its guard trio of Mike Terry, Mike Bibby and Miles Simon was too much for College of Charleston, 73-69, and because the group was composed enough to survive the slowdown tactics of South Alabama, 65-57, in the first round. Kansas was simply too big for Jackson State and Purdue. Raef LaFrentz has been the team's best inside player, but small forward Paul Pierce has shown he is the key, sparking the team over Purdue, 75-61, by taking down 12 rebounds. He also held Purdue's Mike Robinson, who had 10 rebounds in the first half, to zero in the second.

* Difference maker: Bibby. The Arizona coaches and players have said that the freshman point guard gets rattled sometimes, often at the end of close games. But when he is playing well, as he did in a second-round victory over Charleston, he allows Simon and Dickerson to concentrate on scoring and Terry to supply energy off the bench.

* Four questions: Will Kansas get hot from the outside or will a lack of perimeter scoring end the Jayhawks' run as it did last season?

Will Chattanooga's guards, one of them one-time walk-on Wes Moore, have enough athleticism to keep up with Providence's God Shammgod, Jamel Thomas and Corey Wright?

Who will Arizona Coach Lute Olson find to help A.J. Bramlett guard Kansas' LaFrentz and Pollard?

Can Providence continue to get big games from players such as Austin Croshere and Derrick Brown?

* Looking forward to: Kansas' Pierce against Arizona's Michael Dickerson. If Dickerson cannot keep Pierce off the boards, he will kill Arizona, and Dickerson is a good enough shooter that Pierce will have to chase him all over the court.

* A glimpse at the coaches: Both Providence's Pete Gillen and Chattanooga's Mack McCarthy may be coaching their way into bigger jobs, but for now they have senior-laden teams peaking at the right time. Roy Williams is Dean Smith Jr. Lute Olson couldn't get a team with a better inside presence past Kansas in last year's regional and is leaning on a young team probably a year away.

* How it shakes out: Providence's backcourt will be too much for Chattanooga, and Kansas will make just enough outside shots for LaFrentz and Pollard to get 15 points and 10 rebounds each.

* Final prediction: Kansas wears down Providence.

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