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Today's Games

March 23, 2003|Tribune Wire Services


No. 2 Florida (25-7) vs. No. 7 Michigan State (20-12)

Time: 4:30 p.m. PST

The skinny: Yes, it was a rout against an outmanned foe, Sam Houston State, but Florida needed that kind of first-round win. The Gators played solid defense and got some easy baskets in transition. They also shot well from outside, and when that happens, they can hang with anybody. It's vital today that center David Lee be a presence underneath offensively and defensively and avoid the ticky-tack foul. Florida also needs forward Matt Bonner to score more. Michigan State had its way with a big Colorado frontcourt and that has to worry Florida. It also has to worry the Gators that a Spartan team that struggled offensively for much of the season had no such worries in the first round. Florida must concentrate on slowing down guard Chris Hill. If he doesn't score, Michigan State has problems winning. An intriguing subplot: Florida Coach Billy Donovan and Michigan State's Tom Izzo don't exactly get along.


No. 1 Texas (23-6) vs. No. 9 Purdue (19-10)

Time: 1:50 p.m. PST

The skinny: Purdue's 24-point margin of victory over what had been a hot Louisiana State team was one of the first round's biggest surprises. The Boilermakers turned up the defensive intensity in the second half and blew away the Tigers. That said, thanks to guard T.J. Ford, Texas is much better equipped to handle pressure defenses. As long as the Longhorns can make their three-point shots, they will advance. Purdue needs big games from guards Willie Deane and Kenneth Lowe to stay close. Texas' superior depth will be a factor, as will knowing that if it wins, it will be playing in the Sweet 16 in front of a highly partisan crowd in San Antonio.


No. 3 Xavier (26-5) vs. No. 6 Maryland (20-9)

Time: 1:30 p.m. PST

The skinny: After proving they can win without a big game from David West, the Musketeers probably will need one to get past Maryland. The Terrapins sleepwalked through all but five seconds of their first-round game against No. 11 North Carolina Wilmington, only to be rescued by Drew Nicholas' buzzer-beating three-pointer. There are two ways to look at the Terrapins' 75-73 victory. It could be a wake-up call that sparks a lengthy tournament run, or it could be a sign that the Terrapins are vulnerable. With West, Romain Sato and Lionel Chalmers, Xavier seems to have the depth, balance and defensive quickness to get past Maryland and go deep into the tournament.

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