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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENT | WEST REGIONAL

Today's Games / At Sacramento

March 14, 1998|CHRIS DUFRESNE

* Maryland (20-10) vs. Illinois (23-9): Illinois has a problem. His name is Obinna Ekezie, Maryland's 6-foot-11 center. In Thursday's first-round victory, Illinois managed only 16 rebounds against pint-sized South Alabama, a team with no starter taller than 6-6. Illinois struggled all season against teams with dominating centers. Purdue, with 6-11 Brad Miller, beat the Illini three times. Illinois "center" Jerrod Gee, a 6-8 sophomore, is actually a forward, so the Illini will have to rely on quickness and team defense. They forced 20 turnovers against South Alabama. Maryland used superior size and strength to beat Utah State. The Terrapins, who have beaten Kansas and North Carolina this season, outrebounded Utah State, 44-26, and held the Aggies to 39% shooting.

* Arizona (28-4) vs. Illinois State (25-5): The Redbirds probably will have to play the defending national champion without their starting guards. Skipp Schaefbauer broke his leg in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, and point guard Jamar Smiley missed all but one minute of his team's overtime victory over Tennessee on Thursday because of a back injury. Smiley is doubtful for today's game, and so are the Redbirds' chances of winning without him. Illinois may have to take on Arizona's three-guard attack of Miles Simon, Mike Bibby and sixth man Jason Terry with backups Steve Hansell and Kyle Cartmill. What's more, four Redbirds played 40 minutes in Thursday's overtime win, whereas Arizona had the luxury of resting players in a 39-point victory over Nicholls State.

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