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TODAY'S GAMES

East Rutherford Regional

March 18, 2004|Baltimore Sun; Hartford Courant

No. 5 FLORIDA vs. No. 12 MANHATTAN

* Site: Raleigh, N.C.

* Time: 9:20 a.m. PST.

* What to watch for: Billy Donovan knows something about his Gators not taking a respectable 12th-seeded team seriously, but his players weren't around when Florida needed overtime to defeat Butler in 2000. Manhattan (24-5) is considered a dark horse by some to get to the Sweet 16, but the Jaspers will need a huge game from senior guard Luis Flores. Florida (20-10) has played better of late, winning six of its last eight, with the two losses coming against Kentucky. As with most Donovan-coached teams, the Gators rely a great deal on perimeter shooting, led by sophomores Anthony Roberson (17.8 ppg) and Matt Walsh (15.9 ppg).

* Key to the game: If the Gators struggle from the outside and the MAAC champions stay in the game, the crowd could be pulling for the lower-seeded team.

No. 4 WAKE FOREST vs. No. 13 VA. COMMONWEALTH

* Site: Raleigh, N.C.

* Time: 11:50 a.m. PST.

* What to watch for: Wake Forest (19-9) struggled down the stretch, losing to Maryland in the opening round of the ACC tournament as well as its last two regular-season games. Neither team is very big, but the Demon Deacons should be able to take the Rams inside with Eric Williams and Jamaal Levy. VCU (23-7) has done a remarkable turnaround under former Duke guard Jeff Capel, whose team has won its last eight. The best matchup will be between Wake Forest freshman star guard Chris Paul and senior Domonic Jones of the Rams.

* Key to the game: Despite not having a senior on the roster, the Demon Deacons have something only VCU's second-year coach has -- NCAA tournament experience.

Baltimore Sun

*

No. 8 TEXAS TECH vs. No. 9 CHARLOTTE

* Site: Buffalo, N.Y.

* Time: 9:25 a.m. PST.

* What to watch for: Texas Tech (22-10) is 5-5 in its last 10 games and comes into the tournament inconsistent. Andre Emmett and Jarrius Jackson need to come up big. Four Charlotte (21-8) players average in double figures, led by Curtis Withers (16.3 ppg). Controlling Emmett will be a key for Charlotte.

* Key to the game: Charlotte can score (79.9 ppg, first in Conference USA) but can't defend (72.1 ppg, last in conference), so something has to give here.

No. 1 SAINT JOSEPH'S vs. No. 16 LIBERTY

* Site: Buffalo, N.Y.

* Time: 11:55 a.m. PST.

* What to watch for: Saint Joseph's (27-1) obviously had a disappointing end to its unbeaten season, losing badly in the Atlantic 10 tournament. But this team can play and will prove it in Buffalo. The Hawks have perhaps the nation's best starting backcourt in Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. If Liberty (18-4) wins it will be a miracle.

* Key to the game: When you're talking 1 vs. 16, there really aren't keys to the game. Saint Joseph's needs to show up and let Nelson and Co. do the rest.

-- Hartford Courant

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