Coach Rick Majerus
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.
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.
Utes' tumble in the WAC tournament, plus distraction of Majerus-to-Arizona State rumors, could mean a Round 2 exit.
14 San Francisco
Coach Philip Mathews
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".
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.
Don't make like Tony Bennett and leave your heart in San Francisco, for the Dons will be done after Round 1.