However, it will be the Utes and their 6'10" star, Josh Grant (29 points and 10 rebounds against Michigan State), who will face UNLV in the regional semifinal in Seattle. "It'll probably be a bloodbath for us," said Utah coach Rick Majerus. "But what's the worst that can happen? What are they going to do, eat us?"
Brigham Young drew a first-round match in Salt Lake City with undersized Virginia, against which 7'6" Shawn Bradley blocked 10 shots in a 61-48 victory. But the Cougars found the roles reversed when they had to go up against second-seeded Arizona and its frontcourt contingent of 6'11" Brian Williams, 6'11" Sean Rooks and 7-foot Ed Stokes. The Wildcats sealed it with a late 21-6 run, during which Williams threw down a dunk over Bradley. "I used to practice with [7'7"] Manute Bol, and I dunked over him a few times, so I was used to the feeling," said Williams after the 76-61 win.
Led by sharp-shooting guard Terry Dehere, Seton Hall beat Creighton 81-69 in Salt Lake City for the right to take on Arizona in Seattle. The Pirates trailed at the half, but the Bluejays' cast of precise and patient perimeter players—call 'em the Mutuals of Omaha—then came a cropper, turning the ball over so many times that Creighton coach Tony Barone, a former Chicago Cub batboy, must have been tempted to reach for the pine-tar rag.
Either Seton Hall or Arizona will be a worthy opponent in the regional final for, presumably, UNLV—the Pirates because they're now playing their best defense of the season, the Wildcats because of their antipathy for the Runnin' Rebels. Mourning believes that the Hoyas softened up Vegas. "From reading the papers, you'd think they were Superman and Batman," he said. "They're not invincible."
"He can say what he wants," countered Rebel guard Anderson Hunt. "But we're advancing, and they're going home."
No region more flagrantly violated the tournament's traditional spirit of unpredictability than the SOUTHEAST, which produced nary an upset. The atmosphere in Atlanta and Louisville was not unlike the run-up to a major prizefight, with Arkansas, the No. 1 seed, and Indiana, the No. 2, sending signals to each other from opposite sides of the draw.
Indiana was blessed with friendly confines in Louisville, where it outscored Coastal Carolina 25-9 from the free throw line in its 79-69 first-round victory despite the 13-for-15 shooting of the Chanticleers' Brian Penny. The previous day, Florida State coach Pat Kennedy had pulled his team off the floor shortly before the Seminoles had exhausted their allotted practice time. "The place was already packed with Indiana fans, and I could just imagine what it would sound like when [Hoosier freshman] Damon Bailey walked onto the court," he said. "I didn't want ray kids to go through that."
Kennedy also recalled that as a teenager he had fetched Cokes for Hoosier coach Bob Knight when Knight conducted a clinic at a basketball camp in the Poconos run by Kennedy's brother, Bob. "The son of a bitch only paid me $50 for being there," Knight said upon hearing this story. "Tell Kennedy that."
Kennedy got to see Knight's latest clinic for free. The Seminoles led the Hoosiers by 11 with 1:41 left in the first half when Bailey and another former Indiana Mr. Basketball, guard Pat Graham, nailed treys before the break. In the second half Knight went mostly with a small lineup composed of penetrating shooters. They did not commit a turnover and outscored Florida State 50-22 en route to an 82-60 win.
In a matchup of motion offenses in Charlotte, Indiana will play Kansas, which advanced to the regional semis by beating New Orleans 55-49 and Pitt 77-66. Last season's Jayhawks peaked in January and then fizzled. This season's team has traced an inverted line. "Last year's team was full of good kids," said Kansas coach Roy Williams. "In fact, they were maybe too good for their own good. They were so conscientious they worried about what people thought." And this team? "They care about what I think."