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Thursday’s NCAA Regional games

It’s Butler vs. Syracuse and Xavier against Kansas State in the West, and Washington vs. West Virginia and Cornell against Kentucky in the East.

March 24, 2010

West Regional

Butler (30-4) vs. Syracuse (30-4): Center Arinze Onuaku will miss this game because of a quadriceps injury, but the Orange has been doing just fine without him. A key figure is 70 points. Syracuse scored fewer than 70 three times this season, losing two of those games. Butler gave up more than 70 three times and lost them all. Even without Onuaku, Syracuse is much bigger and more physical than Butler, which will try to slow the pace.

Xavier (26-8) vs. Kansas State (28-7): The matchup at guard between Kansas State's Jacob Pullen and Xavier's Jordan Crawford should be fun to watch. Crawford averaged 27.5 points in Xavier's first two games. Pullen plays tough defense and limited Brigham Young sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette to four-for-13 shooting. Kansas State averages nearly 80 points a game, but may want to slow the pace against a team that scores well in transition.

East Regional

Washington (26-9) vs. West Virginia (28-6): Washington has the advantage at point guard with Isaiah Thomas, who is averaging 7.5 assists and is shooting better than 50% from three-point range in the tournament. Backup Joe Mazzulla will man the point for West Virginia, which lost floor leader Darryl Bryant when he suffered a broken foot during a practice this week. Washington is shooting better than 40% from three-point range in a nine-game winning streak.

Cornell (29-4) vs. Kentucky (34-2): Cornell likes to run and gun a little, but the Big Red might want to put up a big red stop sign against Kentucky. Wildcats guards John Wall and Eric Bledsoe are slashers who will dominate if allowed in the lane. But don't count Cornell out. The Big Red has four senior starters, a bunch of three-point threats and 7-footer Jeff Foote in the middle.

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