13 Eastern Michigan
Coach Milton Barnes
Team scoring 80.1 (FG%: 47.2) (3-pointers: 208-553, 37.6%)
Opponents' scoring 75.3 (FG%: 45.3)
Rebound margin +1.4
Team FT% 65.7
Whom not to foul Earl Boykins (81%), Derrick Dial (78%)
Whom to foul James Head (46%), Jon Zajac (56%)
Quality wins At Michigan 89-83, at Ball State 89-77
Players to Watch
Call him Earl the Twirl or Earl the Seed Pearl. Either way, Boykins, a 5'5" senior point guard, is probably the most electrifying performer in the tournament. And he's coming into the Big Dance on a roll: After winning the regular-season finale with a 42-footer at the buzzer to stun Toledo 87-86, Boykins scored a Mid-American Conference tournament-record 89 points in three games to lead the Eagles to the tide. Playing in Boykins's, uh, shadow, his backcourtmate Dial scored 20.6 points a game and was the MAC defensive player of the year.
Boykins and Dial take 53% of Eastern Michigan's shots and score 56% of its points. The frontcourtmen, like everyone else, tend to watch as their guards work magic. The lack of an inside game can be seen in the Eagles' being outscored by 119 points at the free throw line, but Head is a short, quick pivotman who can give a bigger center fits.
We know about the Eagles' Earl. Here's their URL: www.sweet16.com.
Coach Bill Carmody
Team scoring 66.8 (FG%: 50.0) (3-pointers: 249-630, 39.5%)
Opponents' scoring 50.9 (FG%: 40.8)
Team FT% 68.3
Whom not to foul James Mastaglio (82%), Brian Earl (76%)
Whom to foul Steve Goodrich (65%)
Quality wins N.C. State 38-36, Wake Forest 69-64
Player to Watch
Mitch Henderson is the best at the Tigers' signature skill, the backdoor pass. Says Penn coach Fran Dunphy, "In my nightmares I see Henderson coming up from the baseline, throwing a bounce pass off the dribble for a layup."
North Carolina's Antawn Jamison sums up the Tigers best: "You know exactly what will happen, but for some reason they're hard to stop." In its only loss, to the Tar Heels, Princeton stopped itself, clanking 22 of 26 three-pointers. Aside from another cold-shooting fit, the Tigers could also be vulnerable if foul trouble benches center Goodrich, whose shooting, passing and ball handling make him the hub of the offense. His sub, Mason Rocca, is just getting back after missing most of league play with a broken wrist; if he's not ready, 6'7" Nate Walton will have to make like Nate's Hall of Famer dad, Bill.
It's strange to be the hunted rather than the hunter, but the Tigers should get past UNLV, though no further.