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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Today's Games

March 21, 2004|Chicago Tribune; Newsday

No. 3 GEORGIA TECH vs. No. 6 BOSTON COLLEGE

* Site: Milwaukee. * Time: 11:15 a.m. PST.

* What to watch for: The Eagles (24-9) look to set screens and grind it out and wear down opponents with big bodies like 6-foot-7, 255-pound forward Craig Smith. The uglier the game, the better they like it. The Yellow Jackets (24-9) are athletic and look to run and fly and unleash the instant offense that can be created by their perimeter players. The faster the game, the better they like it. This one, then, will be a study in contrasts.

* Key to game: Georgia Tech must push the pace and not let the game evolve into a mud-wrestling match.

No. 1 KENTUCKY vs. No. 9 ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM

* Site: Columbus, Ohio. * Time: 2 p.m. PST.

* What to watch for: Although it's the overall No. 1 team in the NCAA tournament, Kentucky (27-4) hasn't run away from its opposition. The Wildcats have held double-digit leads in 25 of their 29 games, but have a 10.3-point margin of victory. Alabama Birmingham (21-9), with its "40 minutes of hell" style espoused by Coach Mike Anderson (a former assistant to Nolan Richardson), is a dangerous opponent if Kentucky plays languidly. But the Blazers, who allowed Washington to score 100 points Friday night, need to play better defense if they are to have a chance.

* Key to the game: Wildcat point guard Cliff Hawkins' back is hurting. Hawkins is going to have to be ready to go not just offensively, but defensively as Blazer point guard Carldell Johnson had six assists and only one turnover against Washington.

-- Chicago Tribune

No. 4 KANSAS vs. No. 12 PACIFIC

* Site: Kansas City, Mo. * Time: 1:50 p.m. PST.

* What to watch for: This is virtually a home game for Kansas (22-8), playing 41 miles from campus, adding to the chore for underdog Pacific (25-7). Kansas' size under the basket, particularly with 6-9 Jeff Graves and 6-9 Wayne Simien, who is slowed because of a groin injury, is enough for Pacific Coach Bob Thomason to acknowledge that he won't tell his players everything in the scouting report to keep from them "getting too scared." But Pacific, riding a 16-game winning streak, showed Providence it isn't scared with a victory on Friday.

* Key to the game: Pacific's ability to stay cool in the face of Kansas' strengths and its partisan crowd might give it a chance.

-- Newsday

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