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SPORTS EXTRA / NCAA TOURNAMENT | EAST REGIONAL

At Greensoro, N.c.

March 15, 2001|SAM FARMER

*Duke vs. Monmouth: Never has a 16th-seeded team advanced past the first round, and Monmouth isn't about to become the first. Duke is rolling, even without injured center Carlos Boozer, who has been ruled out of the first two rounds. In fact, the Blue Devils are quicker and better in transition with Boozer on the bench. Shane Battier won the Naismith Award as the nation's top player and Jason Williams is the best Duke point guard since Bobby Hurley, the all-time NCAA assist leader. Williams, who sprained his left ankle Sunday against North Carolina, is expected to play. In the last four games, Duke has forced 77 turnovers. Monmouth runs a motion offense that resembles Princeton's, and the Hawks led the Northeast Conference in scoring defense (64.2 points a game).

* Georgia vs. Missouri: Missouri went through a tough stretch without injured forward Kareem Rush, but the Tigers grew from the experience and have Rush back. The younger brother of former UCLA Bruin JaRon Rush, he still has great range--even though his injury was a torn ligament on the thumb of his shooting hand--and had a significant role in Missouri finishing fifth in three-point shooting (37.6%) in the Big 12 Conference. Thanks to the strength of its schedule, Georgia made the tournament despite 14 losses. The Bulldogs want to prove they belong. Guard D.A. Layne is averaging 16.9 points and is a good penetrator. When his path to the basket is cut off, he often passes to junior college transfers Anthony Evans and Shon Coleman, each with scoring averages in double figures.

* Ohio State vs. Utah State: Look for an upset here. Twelfth-seeded Utah State plays great defense, limiting opponents to 58.2 points a game and 39.3% shooting. Point guard Bernard Rock runs the show and, although he's more of a passer than shooter, he made five three-point baskets in a recent victory over Boise State. Ohio State finished with a flurry after a 4-5 start in the Big Ten Conference. The Buckeyes won their last seven conference games, five of which were on the road, before losing to Iowa in the conference tournament. The player to watch is Ohio State's Ken Johnson, a 6-foot-11 center who blocked more than 100 shots for a third consecutive season.

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