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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Today's Game

March 21, 2004|Orlando Sentinel

No. 3 NORTH CAROLINA STATE vs. No. 6 VANDERBILT

* Site: Orlando, Fla.

* Time: 11:40 a.m. PST.

* What to watch for: North Carolina State (21-9) is patient (some might say boring) on offense, but the results are there. Julius Hodge is a legitimate star surrounded by more-than-capable role players, with the best being outside-shooting big man Marcus Melvin. The Wolfpack almost always get good shots, and they have the players who can make the shots. The Wolfpack also plays tough, aggressive defense and, while not overly big, is a solid rebounding team. Vanderbilt (22-9) was impressive in blowing past Western Michigan in the second half Friday. Forward Keith Freije is the Commodores' go-to guy, but, like Hodge, he has a lot of help. Point guard Mario Moore is coming off a career game, but he will face tougher defensive pressure today. Vanderbilt has a strong bench and it would help the cause if the reserves provided some offensive production.

* Key to the game: North Carolina State's grind-it-out attack can frustrate foes who want a fast pace, but Vanderbilt can play a slower tempo if need be. It's vital for Vanderbilt to make three-point baskets. The Wolfpack players will surround Freije and make the other players beat them.

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