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NCAA MEN'S TOURNAMENT | TODAY'S GAMES

St. Louis Regional

March 18, 2004|Robyn Norwood

No. 7 MICHIGAN STATE vs. No. 10 NEVADA

* Site: Seattle.

* Time: 4:35 p.m.

* What to watch for: Nevada (23-8) has a star who is underrated nationally in Kirk Snyder, a junior swingman who was the Western Athletic Conference player of the year. He has scored in double figures in 30 of 31 games this season. Michigan State (18-11) is coached by Tom Izzo, who has the best winning percentage in NCAA tournament games among active coaches at .792 (19-5). However, this season's team might not have what it takes: The Spartans are 0-9 against ranked teams.

* Key to the game: To avoid an upset, Michigan State will need to do a better job containing Snyder than Kansas did, which gave up 29 points to him in the Wolf Pack's December upset of the Jayhawks.

*

No. 2 GONZAGA vs. No. 15 VALPARAISO

* Site: Seattle.

* Time: 7:05 p.m.

* What to watch for: Once upon a time, this would have been considered a matchup of tournament darlings known for March upsets. But Gonzaga (27-2) is strictly a favorite now, with a No. 2 seeding and only two losses this season -- to No. 1-seeded Saint Joseph's and No. 1-seeded Stanford. Valparaiso (18-12) reached the Sweet 16 in 1998, upsetting Mississippi in the first round on Bryce Drew's last-second three-pointer. This season, Valpo is the only one of Indiana's 10 Division I teams to make the tournament.

* Key to the game: A 97-63 loss to Duke in February suggests Valpo can't keep up -- and Gonzaga's depth and versatility should overcome Valpo's three-guard lineup.

-- Robyn Norwood

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