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NCAA MEN'S TOURNAMENT | TODAY'S GAMES

Atlanta Regional

March 18, 2004|Baltimore Sun; Chris Dufresne

No. 1 DUKE vs. No. 16 ALABAMA STATE

* Site: Raleigh, N.C.

* Time: 4:10 p.m. PST.

* What to watch for: It will be interesting to see what kind of hangover the 27-4 Blue Devils will have from losing in the ACC tournament championship game to Maryland. This opening-round game will be a lot easier than last season's, when Duke struggled with 14th-seeded Colorado State. It will be important for J.J. Redick to come out of his recent shooting slump to set the tone for the tournament. Alabama State, which went into the SWAC tournament with a losing record and wound up 16-14, will have the locals who hate the Blue Devils on its side.

* Key to the game: The only concern for Duke is staying healthy for a possible second-round matchup with Arizona.

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No. 8 SETON HALL vs. No. 9 ARIZONA

* Site: Raleigh, N.C.

* Time: 6:50 p.m. PST.

* What to watch for: Arizona (20-9) has to be one of the most dangerous No. 9-seeded teams in tournament history, but the young and inconsistent Wildcats are as likely to give a clinker as a classic. Arizona has possibly the best starting lineup in the country, led by senior center Channing Frye and sophomore forward Hassan Adams, but virtually no bench. Seton Hall (20-9) will try to grind it out and hope that senior guard Andre Barrett can slow down the Wildcat running game, particularly freshman guard Mustafa Shakur. Neither team is playing particularly well going into the tournament, with the Pirates losing to Villanova in the opening round of the Big East tournament and the Wildcats losing to Washington in the Pac-10 semifinals after barely defeating USC.

* Key to the game: If the Pirates can get the Wildcats in foul trouble, they should move on.

Baltimore Sun

*

No. 3 TEXAS vs. No. 14 PRINCETON

* Site: Denver.

* Time: 4:20 p.m. PST.

* What to watch for: A possible upset. Texas is big, strong and athletic but can't be happy about drawing Princeton in the first round. In 1989, Princeton came within a basket of defeating Georgetown and becoming the first No. 16-seeded team to defeat a No. 1. In 1996, of course, the Tigers gave defending national champion UCLA the first-round boot. Pete Carril is no longer the coach, but the Princeton principles remains pretty much the same under John Thompson III: Play smart, lock up on defense and be patient on offense.

* Key to the game: In terms of styles, this game will be almost a carbon copy of North Carolina-Air Force. The team that can dictate tempo will win.

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No. 6 NORTH CAROLINA vs. No. 11 AIR FORCE

Site: Denver.

Time: 6:50 p.m. PST.

What to watch for: A very interesting first-round game and a battle of basketball schools with diverse basketball backgrounds. North Carolina is one of the nation's most storied programs, while Air Force is making its first NCAA appearance since 1962. Should be a battle of wits between Tar Heel Coach Roy Williams, who likes to run, run, run, versus the Falcons' Joe Scott, a disciple of Carril.

Key to the game: Air Force must run the shot clock down to single digits on every possession and frustrate North Carolina with pesky screens and back-door plays.

-- Chris Dufresne

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