East Regional at a glance


(At Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.)

Cincinnati (26-4) vs. Virginia (21-9)

Time: 7:33 p.m.

Coaches: Cincinnati, Bob Huggins (261-107 in 12 seasons overall, 93-35 in four seasons at Cincinnati); Virginia, Jeff Jones (62-34 in three seasons)

Analysis: Cincinnati's stifling defensive pressure is supposed to be the only obstacle between North Carolina and the Final Four, but Virginia could be a semi-Cinderella. The sixth-seeded Cavaliers beat third-seeded Massachusetts in the second round, The ACC wars have steeled the Cavaliers, who must deal with the traps that make Cincinnati one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Virginia actually has a better defensive field-goal percentage than Cincinnati. In a battle of first-rate point guards, Virginia sophomore Cory Alexander could outplay the more-heralded Nick Van Exel, who's shooting 37.3 percent in the postseason. But even that and a slower pace might not be enough for Virginia to pull the upset. The Bearcats were not tested last weekend, and they expect to be playing North Carolina in the regional final Sunday.

North Carolina (30-4) vs. Arkansas (22-8)

Time: 10 p.m. (approximately, begins 30 minutes after end of preceding game)

TV: Channels 11, 9

Coaches: North Carolina, Dean Smith (770-223 in 32 seasons); Arkansas, Nolan Richardson (308-108 in 13 seasons overall, 189-71 in eight seasons at Arkansas)

Analysis: The Tar Heels are in the Sweet 16 for a record 13th straight year, and they come in with much more experience than Arkansas. North Carolina's only loss in its last 14 games came in the ACC tournament final to Georgia Tech, while Arkansas cooled off in late January after a 12-1 start. Arkansas' hopes rest on the bruised tailbone of North Carolina point guard Derrick Phelps, whose activity this week has been limited. If the Tar Heels can deal with Arkansas' assorted pressure defenses and get the ball inside to Eric Montross, George Lynch and Brian Reese, they could put the Razorbacks away just as easily as they did East Carolina and Rhode Island in their first two tournament games. For all the talk of the Razorbacks playing at a faster pace, they're averaging just 0.3 points per game more than the bigger Tar Heels, and Arkansas must find a way to score in a half-court game and keep North Carolina from dominating the boards.

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