LSU lost Durand Macklin, its best player, at the start of the season with a foot injury and now plays Michigan State without the 6'9" Scales, too. Coach Dale Brown used reserve Center Rick Mattick, a 250-pound 7-footer, in a second-round 71-57 win over Appalachian State, and Mattick played well. With 6'9" Greg Cook and 6'9" Lionel Green, LSU has no trouble controlling the boards against most teams. The fact that the Bayou Bengals no doubt will be outrebounded by the Spartans should set up a Michigan State-Notre Dame confrontation for a berth in the final four, with the Spartans having the edge.
Of the four teams playing in the West Regional this week in Provo, Utah, only DePaul is playing to the level at which it performed all season. The Blue Demons face Marquette, a team they beat 61-60 in Chicago last month, and the outcome will doubtless be decided by the performances of DePaul's blocky 6'7", 225-pound Mark Aguirre and Marquette's 6'9" Bernard Toone.
DePaul stays almost exclusively with its five starters, mainly because Coach Ray Meyer has no bench to speak of. "Substitution changes the tempo of our game," says Meyer, putting the best possible face on a bad situation, "so we don't believe in it." The Blue Demons are weak at center. If that doesn't hurt them against Marquette's 6'9" Odell Ball, it virtually eliminates any chance they might have against the winner of the UCLA- San Francisco shootout.
The No. 2-ranked Bruins didn't play particularly well in beating neighboring Pepperdine 76-71 last week, and if they can't work up more enthusiasm for their game against 7'1" Bill Cartwright and the Dons than they've showed the past two weeks, they might be blown out.
Ah, the Midwest Regional. It will, in fact, be played in Cincinnati. And, yes, you geography buffs, the Midwest will take place in a city 104 miles east of the site of the Mideast Regional.
Oklahoma's Raymond Whitley scored four touchdowns and an extra point for 25 points (10 for 12 from the field and 5 for 5 from the line) in the Sooners' win over Texas to get to Cincy.
Oklahoma missed its first two field-goal attempts, then hit 14 of its next 17 shots over a Texas zone. The Sooners are rich at guard, with Whitley and John McCullough and super-sub Cary Carrabine, and also at center, where 6'9" Al Beal holds sway. Oklahoma is an excellent outside-shooting team, but all of the Sooners will have to be hitting at once for Oklahoma to beat Indiana State.
The Sycamores have been the most consistent team in the country—with the possible exception of the touring Soviet club. In addition to the wondrous Bird, ISU has a whole nest full of good players. Guard Carl Nicks scores 19.9 points a game and gets three-point plays almost at will; he had four against Virginia Tech. Forward Brad Miley is the designated defender and sets screens for Bird, while 6'7�" Alex Gilbert crashes the boards and tries to avoid getting fouled (he's a 28% free-throw shooter). The Sycamores aren't deep, but in Bob Heaton and Leroy Staley they have two strong backup players.
The Sycamores should face Arkansas in the Midwest finals, after Sidney Moncrief and the Razorbacks dispose of Louisville. Moncrief, the 6'4" guard whose 21.8 points a game this season led Arkansas to a 24-4 record, is probably the second-best player in the game. If Arkansas and Indiana State get together, look out for a low-flying Bird and a highflying Moncrief.
In the air, not in a ditch.