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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENT

The Breakdown

March 19, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD

* North Carolina (32-3) vs. Michigan State (22-7): The top-seeded Tar Heels survived North Carolina Charlotte's emotion-fueled challenge in overtime in the second round to earn what amounts to a home-court advantage at Greensboro Coliseum, where they won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament two weeks ago. Michigan State plays excellent defense and has the rebounding ability to give North Carolina trouble much as Charlotte did, but the Spartans live and die offensively with point guard Mateen Cleaves. The Tar Heels have Antawn Jamison, the probable national player of the year. Even if Jamison is held in check, North Carolina has explosive guard Shammond Williams, who had a 42-point game earlier this season, and forward Vince Carter, a player Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said can turn a game into "a dunkfest."

* Connecticut (31-4) vs. Washington (20-9): The Huskies--excuse us, the Connecticut Huskies--beat Fairleigh Dickinson and Indiana to reach the final 16 and get to face 11th-seeded Washington for the right to play for a trip to the Final Four. Washington's 7-foot center Todd MacCulloch--who as a volunteer at the 1995 Final Four in Seattle was repeatedly mistaken for Bryant "Big Country" Reeves--is leading the NCAA tournament in field-goal percentage at 65.3% and had a 31-point, 18-rebound game in the second round against Richmond. Connecticut's Jake Voskuhl, though, should hold MacCulloch more in check, and Connecticut's pressure and running game figure to overwhelm Washington. Sophomore swingman Richard Hamilton leads Connecticut witha 22-point scoring average.

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