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UCLA-Xavier preview

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

The West Regional final figures to be a battle.

UCLA dominates defensively. The Bruins have a tenacity taught by Ben Howland and once these kids accepted this philosophy, the program took off again.

The defense is the catalyst for the offense. Teams win in the NCAA tournament because of its defense. The Bruins lock you up, forcing bad shots and turnovers.

While Josh Duncan has played very well in the tournament, UCLA's Kevin Love will be a major key to this contest. Love took charge early against Western Kentucky and he will be tough to stop. He is a difference maker in the middle.

This is a well-balanced Xavier team. Sean Miller is the flavor of the month among coaches and his name will be mentioned in the rumor mill.

Howland had to be happy to see Josh Shipp regain some of his confidence with a strong first half against the Hilltoppers. Throw in Darren Collison and Russel Westbrook and the Bruins have enough weapons to weather the storm.

I see UCLA advancing to its third straight Final Four. The last team to accomplish that feat was Michigan State in 1999-2001. Remember, in Westwood there is only one thing that counts -- hanging another championship banner in Pauley Pavilion.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.