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Clearance sale in Southeast

Scalpers call it "dump mode." It's that precarious period just before the start of a game in which they must get rid of their tickets for any price.

Before the Southeast Regional final at Birmingham between Arizona and Providence on Sunday, things were so bad that tickets with a face value of $40 were going for $10 some 90 minutes before game time _ well before scalpers normally move into dump mode.

Even though all of the tickets for the game in the 16,300-seat arena were sold months ago, the announced attendance was 13,721.

Arizona and Providence each placed two players on the all-tournament team. Arizona guards Miles Simon and Mike Bibby joined Providence guards Jamel Thomas and God Shammgod on the team, which also included Kansas forward Paul Pierce.

East Regional

It's debatable whether Louisville would have been able to beat North Carolina in Sunday's final with a healthy DeJuan Wheat.

Wheat hurt his left ankle in Friday's semifinal win over Texas. Friday night he couldn't walk. Saturday he was on crutches. Sunday he went to the Carrier Dome determined to play.

Treatment took place off and on Saturday and lasted until 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Trainers woke up Wheat at 5:30 a.m. Sunday for more treatment. Wheat took a painkilling shot before the game; it wore off at halftime.

"I've never been in that much pain in my life," he said.

He played 32 minutes but made just 2 of 11 shots, mainly because he couldn't jump to shoot. He also didn't have his quickness, which gave North Carolina's guards more freedom.

Four North Carolina players were named to the all-tournament team: Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Shammond Williams and Ed Cota. Alex Sanders, who scored 37 points in two games for Louisville, was the fifth player. Williams was named MVP, adding to the MVP hardware he collected in the ACC tournament. The last Tar Heel to accomplish that double honor was James Worthy in 1982.

West Regional

From Tom Friend of the New York Times:

Kentucky is an injury or a championship waiting to happen _ or both.

The school lost its leading scorer in January, the coach begged for sympathy, the naive public bought in, and now fools like Utah are home watching.

Sometimes less is more, and sometimes role players roll, and that is the case with the new champions of the West Regional. Several Kentucky cheerleaders had a picture of a crutch on their T-shirts Saturday, along with the caption "Do you believe in miracles?" But that was no miracle, that was Kentucky playing possum and a full-court press.

The empire is still standing, and the czar (coach Rick Pitino) is winking behind closed doors.

Midwest Regional

Minnesota trucks into the Final Four to clash with Kentucky partly because it has senior leadership in guard Bobby Jackson, but also because it has the perfect complement to experience _ youth, in sophomores Quincy Lewis and Charles Thomas.

Lewis' line for the final win over UCLA: 15 points, 7 of 7 from the line, five rebounds (two offensive), two assists, two blocks and one steal. Thomas' line: 14 points, 6-of-11 from the floor, two assists, three steals.

How is it that two sophomores can enter college basketball's most pressurized stage and perform so well?

First, as Minnesota assistant Charles Cunningham emphasizes, Lewis and Thomas are talented players opponents sometimes overlook. Second, maybe a dash of youth is an advantage. Maybe you need some of it when seniors know every tournament game can be their last, when the pressure truly mounts. Sophomores may not even know all that is going on. They just play.

_ TIMES WIRES

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