At The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Saturday, March 31
Michigan State (28-4) vs. Arizona (27-7), 4:42 p.m.
Duke (33-4) vs. Maryland (25-10), following first game
Monday, April 2
Semifinal winners, 8:18 p.m.
Hot Player: Over the last 10 games Gilbert Arenas has averaged 18.1 points while shooting 22-for-42 (52 percent) from 3-point range. He was named the regional MVP after scoring 21 points in the win over Illinois.
The Positive: Senior center Loren Woods has led a revitalized rebounding effort, averaging 6.8 in the tournament as the Wildcats outrebounded their four opponents by almost 11 a game. The starters have averaged between 16.3 and 11.3 points and they are all grabbing at least five rebounds a game except for point guard Jason Gardner, who is averaging 3.0.
The Negative: The Wildcats have struggled from long range in the tournament, shooting just 27 percent (12-for-44) from 3-point range, well off their 36 percent mark for the season. The assist-to-turnover ratio is also far from the break-even season mark. Arizona has committed 72 turnovers while getting 46 assists.
Hot Player: Andre Hutson is averaging almost a double-double in the NCAA tournament at 14.3 rebounds and 9.8 rebounds, leading the Spartans in both categories. The senior forward is shooting 73 percent from the field (22-for-30) and his 12 assists are only two off the team lead.
The Positive: As always with the Spartans, it's rebounding. They led the nation for the second straight year in rebounding margin, and in the tournament it's up to 18.5 a game. The seven-point win over Temple snapped the Spartans' NCAA-record run of nine straight tournament victories by 10 points or more.
The Negative: The Spartans are shooting 25 percent from 3-point range (15-for-60), well off their season mark of 33 percent.
Hot Player: Lonny Baxter has become a force in the middle for the Terrapins, averaging 17.8 points and 10.0 rebounds in the tournament, and that's after having just two points and six rebounds in the opening-round win over George Mason. He had 26 points and 14 rebounds in regional semifinal win over Georgetown and then had 24 points in win over Stanford, earning regional MVP honors after going 20-for-32 from the field in the two games.
The Positive: The Terrapins have been on an impressive run since losing four of five games. The only loss in 11 games since then was a last-second defeat to Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals. Seven of those wins were over ranked teams, including Duke, Virginia and Stanford, all in the Top 10.
The Negative: Maryland has to play Duke in the semifinals. Not only have the top-ranked Blue Devils won two of their meetings this season, the first of those was the devastating overtime loss that started the midseason spin.
Hot Player: Jason Williams has averaged 28.8 points in the tournament, while leading the Blue Devils with 23 assists in the four games. He is shooting 51 percent from the field (40-for-79), including 20-for-46 (44 percent) from 3-point range. In the second half against UCLA in the regional semifinals, Williams scored 19 consecutive points for the Blue Devils and matched his career-high with 34.
The Positive: No other team in the Final Four has an All-American and Duke has two in Williams and Shane Battier, who has averaged 23 points and 10.5 rebounds in the tournament. The Blue Devils are second in the nation in scoring at 90.8 points a game and their margin of victory of 20.7 leads the country.
The Negative: Duke has relied on the 3-point shot all season, setting NCAA records for 3s made and attempted in a season. Rebounding hasn't been strong. The Blue Devils don't even outrebound their opponents by two a game. The only other knock on Duke is that its free throw shooting percentage is 69.6, and Williams, who has the ball more than anyone else, is at 65.8.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.