Minnesota vs. UCLA
at Alamodome, San Antonio
RECORDS: Minnesota 30-3, UCLA 24-7.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Minnesota, the Big Ten champion and the top seed, beat No. 16 Southwest Texas State 78-46, No. 9 Temple 76-57 and No. 4 Clemson 90-84 in double overtime. No. 2 seed UCLA, the three-time defending Pac-10 champ, beat No. 15 Charleston Southern 109-75, No. 7 Xavier 96-83 and No. 6 Iowa State 74-73 in overtime.
COACHES: Minnesota _ Clem Haskins (200-140, 11th season; 301-213). UCLA _ Steve Lavin (24-7, first season).
KEY PLAYERS: Minnesota _ Bobby Jackson, G, 6-1 Sr. (14.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.0 apg); Sam Jacobson, G/F, 6-6 Jr. (13.8 ppg); John Thomas, C, 6-9 Sr. (9.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg). UCLA _ Charles O'Bannon, F, 6-5 Sr. (17.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg); J.R. Henderson, F, 6-9 Jr. (14.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg); Toby Bailey, G, 6-5 Jr. (13.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Golden Gophers like to get up and down the court, but the Bruins prefer that tempo more, and it's hard to picture Minnesota beating UCLA at its own game. A key will be how well the Gophers' backcourt plays. Usually, that's a given. Jackson was the Big Ten player of the year and a second-team All-American, and junior point guard Eric Harris has been a spectacular defender and solid playmaker. But Harris injured his right shoulder on Thursday, and if he plays, his effectiveness undoubtedly will be affected. The Bruins have the scorers, but with basically a six-man rotation and playing an overtime game well into Friday, they may fatigue more readily than the Gophers, who have relied on essentially their whole roster all season.
_ BRIAN LANDMAN
Kentucky vs. Utah
at San Jose Arena
RECORDS: Kentucky 33-4, Utah 29-3.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Kentucky, the Southeastern Conference tournament champion and the top seed, beat No. 16 Montana 92-54, No. 8 Iowa 75-69 and No. 4 St. Joseph's 83-68. No. 2 seed Utah, the champion of the Western Athletic Conference, beat No. 15 Navy 75-61, No. 7 North Carolina-Charlotte 75-58 and No. 6 Stanford 82-77 in overtime.
COACHES: Kentucky _ Rick Pitino (217-49, eighth season; 350-123). Utah _ Rick Majerus (180-54, eighth season; 280-107).
KEY PLAYERS: Kentucky _ Ron Mercer, F/G, 6-7 So. (18.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.7 spg); Scott Padgett, F, 6-9 So. (9.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg); Wayne Turner, PG, 6-2 So. (6.4 ppg, 2.8 apg). Utah _ Keith Van Horn, F, 6-10 Sr. (22.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg); Michael Doleac, C, 6-11 Jr. (14.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg); Andre Miller, PG, 6-2 Jr. (9.8 ppg, 6.1 apg).
WHAT TO EXPECT: With Derek Anderson still out and junior swingman Allen Edwards out with a broken right ankle, Kentucky, the defending national champion, is down to eight scholarship players. That means the Wildcats can't afford to press and trap as they did in last year's Midwest Regional semifinal 101-70 rout of Utah. Don't cry for Kentucky, however. It still has Mercer, an All-American, and several reserves have stepped up, namely junior guard Cameron Mills, who had 19 points against St. Joseph's. The Utes, contrary to popular opinion, aren't simply Van Horn. Against Stanford, Van Horn, an All-American, fouled out 34 seconds into overtime, and the Utes prospered with three freshmen, including forward Hanno Mottola and guard Jeff Johnsen. A key for the Utes is how well Miller can handle the ball. He injured his knuckles and had trouble closing his right hand.
_ BRIAN LANDMAN