A look at Fridayís regional semifinals in the NCAA tournament.
1. Kansas (31-5) vs. 4. Michigan (28-7): Michiganís blowout victory over VCU in last weekend might be the most impressive victory in the tournament. The Wolverines are clicking and have an array of offensive weapons, led by point guard Trey Burke. The Wolverines have guarded well, but Kansas is going to present a special challenge. Itís questionable whether Michiganís young big men can match up with Kansasí Jeff Withy and Kevin Young. The Jayhawks play some of the best defense in the country, too. If Michigan can at least compete and not get crushed in the paint, they can win this game.
3. Florida (28-7) vs. 15. Florida Gulf Coast (26-10): The Gulf Coast story is tremendous and the Eagles have been highly entertaining in upsetting Georgetown and San Diego State, but hereís some stats courtesy of Ed Ryan, the Globeís NFL gambling and fantasy football correspondent: Brett Comer of Gulf Coast: 6.5 assists per game, 3.5 turnovers per game. As a team: 512 assists, 525 turnovers.
Only two players on the team have positive assist-to-turnover ratios Ė Comer and a backup guard, DaJuan Graf. Hereís where the glass slipper breaks. Florida will defend well and has enough toughness to not let Gulf Coast go crazy near the hoop.
1. Louisville (31-5) vs. 12. Oregon (28-8): Florida Gulf Coast is playing over its head, but so is Oregon as freshmen guards Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson have been flawless. Dotson, a 33 percent three-point shooter, has connected on eight of 15 threes in two victories. Those two will have to keep up with the relentless Louisville full-court pressure, which should eventually wear them down. The Cardinals just need to keep their heads and not make too many Russdiculous plays.
2. Duke (29-5) vs. 3. Michigan State (27-8): This is a classic matchup between two traditional powers and two great coaches. Once again, Tom Izzo has his Michigan State team playing its best in March. Mike Krzyewski has Duke playing well too, especially with the return of versatile forward Ryan Kelly. Expect this to be a chess match, probably in the 60s. It may sound obvious, but because both these teams play such solid defense, the team that gets the best open shots and converts will win.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell