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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Eight points about the Elite Eight

March 24, 2007|ROBYN NORWOOD

1 Chalk again: With all four No. 1 seeds alive in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003 and three of the four No. 2 seeds alive -- only Wisconsin lost -- this is going down as a by-the-book NCAA tournament.

2 Maybe it's Memphis: After 25 consecutive wins, the Tigers are getting a lot more difficult to dismiss. So far, neither the Tigers' lack of competition in Conference USA during the regular season nor their anemic 62% free-throw percentage -- 314th out of 325 teams in the most recent NCAA rankings -- has cost them.

3 Is the Bluegrass really greener?: Billy Donovan has everything he needs to win national championships at Florida and doesn't have to put up with overbearing Kentucky fans. But he had an opportunity to say he isn't interested in the Kentucky job Friday and didn't. Maybe that's how you negotiate a raise.

4 Something's Bruin: UCLA has been to the Final Four four times since the John Wooden era and won the NCAA title in 1995. But if the Bruins defeat Kansas, it will mark the first consecutive Final Four appearances by the same UCLA coach since Wooden's run of nine Final Fours in a row ended in 1975. (Gene Bartow took UCLA in 1976.)

5 Short -- and sweet: Tajuan Porter, Oregon's 5-foot-6 freshman, tied a regional record by making eight three-pointers during a 33-point performance in the Ducks' victory over Nevada Las Vegas on Friday.

6 Make some room, Mike Bibby: Bibby managed a rare feat when he led Arizona to the 1997 title as a freshman point guard. It seems as if everyone's trying to do it now: Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr. and North Carolina's Ty Lawson are the most prominent, but Memphis' Willie Kemp and Oregon's Porter also log lots of minutes at the point.

7 1980s flashback: Back then, Georgetown had John Thompson on the bench and Patrick Ewing in a Hoya uniform. Now it's John Thompson III as coach and Patrick Ewing Jr. on the court, with retired Georgetown coach "Big John" Thompson broadcasting the NCAA tournament for Westwood One radio. One question, though, with Georgetown facing North Carolina in a reprise of the 1982 NCAA title game: Who'll play Fred Brown?

8 Pep band song you'll hear a while longer: Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," performed with verve by the Florida pep band in honor of 6-foot-10 junior Al Horford -- whose statistics this season, by the way, are better than teammate Joakim Noah's.

--ROBYN NORWOOD

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