West Regional Today’s Games
* Connecticut (28-2) vs. Texas San Antonio (18-10): Playing in only their second-ever NCAA tournament game, the Roadrunners of the Southland Conference should say hello and goodbye quickly this time as well. The Huskies dominated the Big East tournament. Forward Richard Hamilton and guard Khalid El-Amin are of a quality the Roadrunners just haven’t seen. The Roadrunners, the top-shooting team in the Southland Conference, have outscored opponents by 105 points in the first half.
* Missouri (20-8) vs. New Mexico (24-8): Last time Missouri played in the NCAA tournament, Tyus Edney broke Tiger hearts with his length-of-the-court, last-second miracle that propelled UCLA to a national title. This inconsistent Missouri team has as its focus spectacular, mercurial freshman guard Keyon Dooling and 6-5 junior swingman Albert White, who was the only player in the Big 12 to rank in the top five in scoring (16.4 points) and rebounding (8.5). The Lobos are praying that the strained groin which hobbled standout center Kenny Thomas in the Western Athletic Conference tournament has healed.
* Iowa (18-9) vs. Alabama Birmingham (20-11): Iowa players have let it be known they are unhappy that Coach Tom Davis is being forced out at the end of this season. The Hawkeyes, in fact, started 13-1 after being picked near the bottom of the Big Ten. They’ve gone 5-8 since but did finish tied for third in the Big Ten. Senior Jess Settles, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing parts of two seasons because of back problems, is the leader. The Blazers have six seniors. The leader is forward Fred Williams, who shoots 55.3% from the field. Center Antonio Jackson has blocked 24 shots.
* Arkansas (22-10) vs. Siena (25-5): How the Razorbacks turn depends on their senior backcourt of Pat Bradley and Kareem Reid. Bradley is a jump shooter. Period. When the shots fall, Arkansas rolls. Reid’s quickness and penetration get Bradley the shots. Senior forward Derek Hood led the Southeastern Conference in rebounding for the second time in three years. The last time the Saints were in the tournament, they upset No. 3 seeded Stanford in 1989. This team is dangerous too. The Saints are the third-leading scoring team in the country (89.6 points).
Minnesota (17-10) vs. Gonzaga (25-6): Gonzaga, champion of the West Coast Conference, shoots nearly 40% from three-point range and point guard Matt Santangelo, a junior, practices in the off-season against a former Gonzaga point guard, “Mr. Stockton,” as Santangelo calls John Stockton. Santangelo has apparently learned well, as he is second only to Stockton in career assists (554-420). The Gophers, on the other hand, make no pretense of balanced offense. The star is 6-foot-7 senior forward Quincy Lewis, who averages 23.7 points. Starting guard Kevin Clark suffered a seizure on the plane from Minneapolis to Seattle, the third seizure Clark has suffered in the last 3 1/2 weeks, according to Coach Clem Haskins.
* Stanford (25-6) vs. Alcorn State (23-6): For the Cardinal, a Final Four team a year ago, this No. 2 is the highest NCAA seeding ever. Sophomore forward Jarron Collins is on crutches and will not play today, according to Coach Mike Montgomery. Collins, who averages 5.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, watched Wednesday’s practice from the bench. Alcorn State’s leading scorer, 5-foot-11 guard Reuben Stiff, is a cousin of Los Angeles Clipper guard James Robinson. The Braves are making their first NCAA appearance in 15 years. The last time they went, they beat Houston Baptist in the first round and lost by a point to Kansas in the second round.
* Florida (20-8) vs. Pennsylvania (21-5): The Quakers have a guard named Michael Jordan and they survived one of the biggest embarrassments ever this season, when they blew a 27-point lead to defending Ivy League champion Princeton and lost, 50-49, on their home court. But instead of folding, the Quakers haven’t lost since. Billy Donovan’s Florida team plays 10-deep and likes to run and press. Five Gators average in double figures, led by freshman forward Mike Miller (12.3 points).
* North Carolina (24-9) vs. Weber State (24-7): This is the 25th consecutive NCAA appearance for the Tar Heels. This is the Wildcats’ second appearance in four years. The star for Weber State, is 6-6 junior forward Harold Arceneaux. Arceneaux averages 21.5 points and six rebounds and was the Big Sky player of the year. The tallest starter for the Wildcats, though, is 6-7 center Andy Jensen. Weber State’s forwards are 6-1 Marc Lawson and the 6-6 Arceneaux; they will face a Tar Heel front line that goes 6-9 (Ademola Okulaja), 6-11 (Kris Lang) and 7-0 (Brendan Haywood).