A look at tonight's NCAA regional semifinals. All times Pacific:
No. 4 Xavier (27-7) vs. No. 1 Pittsburgh (30-4), 4:15 p.m. -- Xavier has defeated Portland State, 77-59, and Wisconsin, 60-49. The Musketeers also own wins over Missouri and Memphis, so they know they can hang with the nation's best teams. Xavier is one win away from its second consecutive Elite Eight despite coming into the tournament 5-5 in their previous 10 games. Leading scorer B.J. Raymond averages only 14.1 points, and no player averages more than 30 minutes. The Musketeers limit foes to 38% shooting and rebound well despite not possessing great size. Dealing with Pittsburgh forward DeJuan Blair will be a challenge, however. Blair shoots 60% and creates opportunities for Levance Fields and three-point threat Sam Young. Pittsburgh defeated East Tennessee State, 72-62, and Oklahoma State, 84-76. The Panthers have never reached the final eight.
No. 3 Villanova (28-7) vs. No. 2 Duke (30-6), 6:45 p.m. -- Both teams rely on perimeter players and don't have the bulk to bang, but they scrap for rebounds just the same. Villanova enjoyed home-court advantage in the first two rounds, beating American, 80-67, and UCLA, 89-69, in Philadelphia. Wildcats guards Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Scottie Reynolds beat people off the dribble for leaners or to kick back to teammates for open three-point shots. They also get to the free-throw line. Duke's strategy is almost identical with guards Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer and Greg Paulus. The Blue Devils made 47% of their three-point shots in tournament wins over Binghamton and Texas. A key matchup is at forward, where Villanova's Dante Cunningham and Duke's Kyle Singler have almost identical statistics.