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What To Look For

March 20, 2001|SAM FARMER

* How they got here: UCLA used its full-court press to wear down Hofstra, then sent Utah State home with a smothering half-court defense.

USC made light work of Oklahoma State, then beat third-seeded Boston College, holding on to win by three.

Duke buried Monmouth in the first round, making a school-record 18 three-point baskets, then beat Missouri with a 30-point, nine-assist game by Jason Williams.

Second-seeded Kentucky got a scare from Holy Cross in the first round, winning by four, but cruised to a 92-79 victory over Iowa in the second.

* Difference makers: USC's Jeff Trepagnier is starting to show the type of skills--dunks, cat-quick backdoor cuts--that dazzle NBA scouts. He isn't a great shooter, but he's a 7-foot high jumper whose dunks are worthy of the all-VCR team.

Kentucky power forward Tayshaun Prince is at the top of his game. He has great moves in the paint, and can knock down three-pointers with his unorthodox set shots.

If UCLA's Jason Kapono can make a couple shots early, he could make things very difficult for Duke defenders. When he gets in a groove, it doesn't matter if he has a hand in his face.

It's no wonder many people consider Duke's Shane Battier the nation's best player. He's a great shooter who cracked the Atlantic Coast Conference top 10 in rebounds, steals and blocked shots.

* Team tidbits: UCLA center Dan Gadzuric has 11 double-doubles this season, and five in six games.

USC last reached the round of 16 in 1954--and advanced to the Final Four before losing to Bradley, 74-72.

Duke has traveled this way before, taking the Greensboro-Philadelphia-Minneapolis route to win the NCAA title in 1992.

No school has made more tournament appearances than Kentucky (41).

* How it shakes out: Duke has too many weapons for UCLA, even though the Bruins love playing at high speed, and the return of Carlos Boozer makes the Blue Devils more formidable. USC almost wilted under the pressure of Boston College's press and Kentucky figures to turn the heat up even more. If Duke can make its outside shots, it can run the table in the regional.

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