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SPORTS EXTRA / NCAA TOURNAMENT | EAST REGIONAL

At Uniondale, N.y

March 15, 2001|MIKE TERRY

STARTING LINEUPS

* Kentucky vs. Holy Cross: A team seeded 15th has won only three times against a team seeded second since the tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Don't expect that to happen today. The Crusaders lead the NCAA in opponent field goal percentage (37.9%), but there was no team on the Holy Cross schedule that comes close to the skill level and athleticism of the Wildcats. Holy Cross also has a tendency to mishandle the ball; its 493 turnovers are second among the eight teams playing here. And for those of you looking for an omen, consider this: The last time Kentucky was seeded second was 1998--and it went on to win its seventh national championship.

* Iowa vs. Creighton: Iowa Coach Steve Alford became angry Wednesday when asked about other coaching jobs. But if he gets the Big Ten tournament champion Hawkeyes past Creighton, and on the same kind of roll Iowa had in 1980 when it made the Final Four out of the East, Indiana won't be the only place that wants him. Creighton, however, won't be dazzled by Iowa's postseason pedigree. The Missouri Valley Conference regular-season champion is in its third consecutive NCAA tournament, has defeated Iowa in four of its last five meetings, and has a five-game winning streak against Alford-coached teams. Nonetheless, Iowa is tournament-worthy. The Hawkeyes haven't lost a first-round game in their last nine NCAA appearances, dating to 1986.

* Boston College vs. Southern Utah: The Eagles won the Big East regular-season and tournament championships, and thought they should have been seeded higher than third. They get a chance to show why against the Thunderbirds, who are making their first NCAA tournament appearance. Southern Utah must neutralize Boston College's quickness on defense. The Eagles, who have had the same starting lineup in all 30 games this season, have forced 19.2 turnovers and collected 10.3 steals a contest. But Boston College definitely will have to keep the score down. Southern Utah is 18-1 when it scores 70 points or more. The only loss was to Arizona State in the season opener.

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