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West
March 16, 1998
MARCH 12, 14/SACRAMENTO
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March 16, 1998

West

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Coach Rick Majerus
Record 25-3
Team scoring 69.5 (FG%: 47.4) (3-pointers: 153-400, 38.3%)
Opponents' scoring 56.1 (FG: 37.8%)
Rebound margin +8.0 Team FT% 73.4
Whom not to foul Michael Doleac (80%), Andre Miller (76%)
Whom to foul Britton Johnsen (50%), Drew Hansen (66%)
Quality wins At Wake Forest 62-53, New Mexico 65-55

Player to Watch
Last season Miller was something of a liability at point guard, especially late in games because he shot only 58.2% from the line. Now the Utes would be lost without him. He has boosted his scoring (9.8 to 13.7), his three-point shooting (29% to 39%) and his free throw shooting (to 76%). He'll be hard-pressed, though, to top the postseason performance of his mom, Andrea, who in 1996 rode a bus 29 hours each way from Los Angeles to Dallas to see Andre play in the Midwest Regional.

Scouting Report
Opponents may look to the Utes' last loss for a clue to beating them. UNLV sat back in a zone, and Utah missed 16 of 20 threes while losing 54-51 in the WAC tournament. Those may be more telling numbers than the 56.1 points a game Utah allowed (fourth lowest in the nation) or the impressive +8.0 rebounding margin because the Utes played only one Top 15 team all season, New Mexico—and lost.

Prediction
Utes' tumble in the WAC tournament, plus distraction of Majerus-to-Arizona State rumors, could mean a Round 2 exit.

Vs

14 San Francisco

Coach Philip Mathews
Record 19-10
Team scoring 73.4 (FG%: 46.8) (3-pointers: 170-497, 34.2%)
Opponents' scoring 65.7 (FG%: 44.7)
Rebounding margin +5.8 Team FT% 70.0
Whom not to foul M.J. Nodilo (90%), Ali Thomas (82%)
Whom to foul Damian Cantrell (56%), Jamal Cobbs (63%)
Quality wins None

Player to Watch
Cantrell can take a charge and take charge on the boards (9.9 a game); though he missed eight games with mono, he had 20 more offensive boards than anyone else in the West Coast Conference. Not bad for a guy who's only 6'6".

Scouting Report
On Feb. 14 the Dons were 4-7 in league play, so Mathews gave his team a jolt by replacing his senior backcourt of Nodilo and Cobbs with freewheeling freshmen Thomas and Dony Wilcher. Since then San Francisco has increased its scoring by 175 points a game. Also rejuvenated is Nodilo, who shot 54.6% from beyond the arc in the last seven games after hitting just 27.9% in his first nine games back from a stress fracture in his right foot. With everyone healthy, the Dons had the depth to press and improved their defense with 3.1 more steals a game. Consequently, the Dons are hot: They've won six straight, by an average of 19.0 points.

Prediction
Don't make like Tony Bennett and leave your heart in San Francisco, for the Dons will be done after Round 1.

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