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Midwest Regional

MARCH MADNESS / NCAA TOURNAMENT | TODAY

March 18, 2001|VINCE KOWALICK

AT DAYTON, OHIO

* Illinois vs. Charlotte--Top-seeded Illinois has not advanced to the Sweet 16 since 1989, the last time it reached the Final Four. Illinois hardly worked up a sweat in a 96-54 first-round win over Northwestern State. Ninth-seeded Charlotte, a 70-63 winner over Tennessee, doesn't figure to fall so easily. Illinois players are guarding against a letdown. "When you're hot, you have a tendency to let up," Robert Archibald said. "I feel like we'll be ready." Rodney White of Charlotte led the nation in scoring among freshmen, averaging 19 points.

* Syracuse vs. Kansas--Coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse says he will wait until after the season to celebrate victory No. 600, recorded Friday with a 79-69 triumph over Hawaii. Right now, he is focused on leading the No. 5-seeded Orangemen past No. 4 Kansas, which overwhelmed smaller Cal State Northridge, 99-75. Stopping the Jayhawks' front court is paramount. Forwards Nick Collison (6 feet 9), Drew Gooden (6-10) and Eric Chenowith (7-1) teamed to help Kansas dominate the boards, 46-25. "We faced Georgetown this year and they had big players," Syracuse forward Damone Brown said. "We matched up and played with them and we can do this with Kansas." The Jayhawks must contend with Syracuse's first-rate zone defense.

AT KANSAS CITY, MO.

* Arizona vs. Butler--Butler is known for its defense. But who could have predicted the Bulldogs' domination of Wake Forest in a 79-63 first-round victory in which they gave up only 10 points in the first half? Wake Forest made only three of 25 shots in what was the lowest scoring total of any half of any NCAA tournament game since the introduction of the shot clock in 1985-86. Arizona has regrouped since the midseason death of Coach Lute Olson's wife, Bobbi, and the suspensions of Loren Woods and Richard Jefferson, having won 16 of its last 18 games. Arizona also was a 12-point winner over Butler in the Fiesta Bowl Classic in December.

* Notre Dame vs. Mississippi--Notre Dame, in its first tournament game since 1990, was an 83-71 winner over Xavier--its first victory in four games. Notre Dame shot 63% and overcame poor shooting by co-Big East player of the year Troy Murphy, who was six for 17. Mississippi defends well against the three-point shot--as Iona found out in making only three of 19 shots from behind the arc in a 72-70 loss to the Rebels.

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