North Carolina does not shoot well outside, so the Bonnies' zone could give it trouble. Grubar will have to hit from the zone perimeter and All-America Larry Miller and Charlie Scott will have to fight their way in closer to score. If Lanier can be held somewhat in check, Carolina should move on to meet the Columbia-Davidson winner.
The Tar Heels probably hope it will be Columbia because their in-state rival, tiny Davidson, has been aching for a long time to get a shot at the big state school and would be fired up enough to tear the whole city of Raleigh apart. Davidson is uncommonly deep Coach Lefty Driesell can go to his bench and send in last year's leading scorer, 6'9" Rodney Knowles, He may start Knowles to counteract the Lions" 7-footer Dave Newmark, but he also has 6'6" Doug Cook and 6'7" Mike Maloy to play in the key. "Davidson has almost as much material as UCLA," says West Virginia's Bucky Waters.
Columbia was most impressive in beating Princeton in the Ivy playoff and manhandling La Salle 83-69 last weekend. Newmark's injured ankle still is not completely healed, but his mere presence in the lineup seems to help. And the Lions have two of the finest sophomores in the nation, Forward Jim McMillian and Guard Heyward Dotson, plus Roger Walaszek, a fine driver and the leading scorer last year. Columbia's lack of speed probably won't matter because Davidson is such a deliberate team. The edge probably should go to the Wildcats because of their deeper bench, overall height advantage and the fact that they will be playing in their home state.
North Carolina can be beaten at Raleigh by any of the other three teams, but if the Tar Heels maintain the defense that has carried them all season and continue to camouflage their shooting deficiencies, they will make it into the semifinals for the second straight year.
SEC champion Kentucky will have a nice advantage in the Mideast Regional. The games will be played right there in Lexington where Adolph Rupp has been winning and winning almost since the sport was invented. This season the Wildcats, starting three exceptional sophomores, won 12 games at home without a loss. Besides, Kentucky appears to have the best team of the four, a typical smooth-functioning Rupp machine.
Friday night Kentucky plays Marquette, which barely sneaked past Bowling Green to reach Lexington. Despite an impressive early-season win at St. John's, Marquette lost two of its last three regular-season games and does not have much height, although 6'2" George Thompson can leap with practically anybody up to 6'8". The fact that Coach Al McGuire wants to quit and move to the new NBA franchise in Milwaukee (the school is refusing to let him go) might well affect the team.
In the other Mideast game the Ohio Valley's East Tennessee plays the winner of this week's Big Ten playoff, Iowa or Ohio State Ohio State has a big, strong front line, Iowa has superb Sam Williams and East Tennessee has Harley Swift, but none of the three seems capable of stopping Kentucky.
No matter which teams battle their way out of the regionals in Raleigh and Lexington, the game everyone eagerly awaits at Los Angeles is Houston- UCLA, and the Cougars are blissfully confident they can win again. "We've improved I don't know how much since the UCLA game," says Elvin Hayes, seldom bashful about speaking his mind. "They couldn't play us as close now as they did then. If we played 'em again, we'd beat 'em worse, and it couldn't matter if it. was on their own floor."
As for the Bruins, they say they are grimly determined but not vengeful. "Revenge is something I don't harbor," says Wooden. "I believe if I don't harbor it, my boys don't harbor it.
Just the same, UCLA should avenge its defeat by beating Houston this time and going on to win its fourth collegiate championship in five years.