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Today's Games

March 21, 2004|Chicago Tribune

No. 2 MISSISSIPPI STATE vs. No. 7 XAVIER

* Site: Orlando, Fla. * Time: 9:10 a.m. PST.

* What to watch for: Both teams are athletically gifted, but Mississippi State (26-3) will have the best player on the court in forward Lawrence Roberts. He's a bull in the lane and also can shoot from the outside. Guard Timmy Bowers and forward Shane Power are the Bulldogs' best outside threats. Look for the Musketeers to try to stymie Roberts and make the Bulldogs beat them from the outside. Xavier (24-10) is led by senior guards Lionel Chalmers and Romain Sato. Both are quick, have good outside shots and play good defense. Sato also in an incredible leaper who needs to do good work on the boards today. The Musketeers have the better bench and need production from guard Dedrick Finn and forward Brandon Cole.

* Key to the game: Xavier center Aaron Myles is the "X" factor. He must avoid fouls, play physical defense on Roberts and rebound with abandon.

No. 5 ILLINOIS vs. No. 4 CINCINNATI

* Site: Columbus, Ohio. * Time: 11:30 a.m. PST.

* What to watch for: Cincinnati (25-6) escaped the first round with an 80-77 victory over East Tennessee State after struggling against East Tennessee's Tim Smith, a 5-9 guard who scored 26. Illinois' Dee Brown could give the Bearcats similar troubles. Illinois (25-6), though, may not have the strength inside against Cincinnati's Jason Maxiell and Eric Hicks. If Illini post players James Augustine, Roger Powell and Nick Smith get into foul trouble, it will cost the Illini a Sweet 16 appearance.

* Key to the game: Cincinnati's bench. The Bearcats can bank on huge contributions from their reserves, led by Tony Bobbitt. Illinois' bench isn't nearly as strong.

-- Chicago Tribune

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