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Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Can Marist find momentum in New Orleans Regional?

ESPN.com

ESPN.com breaks down the four regionals. Check out the Greensboro, Oklahoma City and Spokane analysis.

Graham Hays' 8 vs. 9 breakdown

Georgia(8) Georgia vs. (9) Iowa (at Bridgeport, Conn., 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPN): Georgia and Iowa won't need to draw a proverbial line in the sand; the decisive barrier will be painted right on the court for them. The Big Ten's best 3-point shooting team, Iowa, will need to hit from outside against the SEC's second-stingiest 3-point defense.
Pick: Georgia

Beth Mowins' 7 vs. 10 breakdown

(7) Marist vs. (10) DePaul (at Baton Rouge, La., 8 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN2): How will Marist handle the weight of NCAA tournament expectations? Hoop fans are anxious to find out whether the Red Foxes' trip to the Sweet 16 last season was a one-time deal or whether the MAAC champions will have postseason staying power once again.

The road this year begins -- and possibly ends -- with DePaul, a team that plays similarly to Middle Tennessee. That's the team Marist dispatched in last season's tournament to reach the regional semifinals. Marist must play with composure against a high-pressure, high-scoring attack.

DePaul is an experienced team that had a Cinderella run of its own two years ago, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. Many of those players are still around, including 2,000-point scorer Allie Quigley, the highest-scoring active player in the Big East. She is effective from beyond the arc and off the dribble to the basket. Transfer Deidre Naughton gives the Blue Demons another perimeter threat capable of a 20-point night.

Marist wants to get the ball inside to its tandem of Rachele Fitz and Meg Dahlman. They were spectacular in last year's upset of Ohio State in the first round, displaying tremendous toughness and grit. Fitz was the MAAC player of the year this season. The Red Foxes graduated the architect of last season's upsets, guard Alisa Kresge, but Nikki Flores, Julianne Viani and newcomer Erica Allenspach have held down the fort.

DePaul has seen it all in the brutal Big East this year and will be well-prepared for any slow-down games. The Blue Demons rebound and run and score with the best in the country.

Charlie Creme's take

UNCWho's Hot: No. 1 seed North Carolina. Unbeaten in the ACC, only two losses all season and sheer dominance in the conference tournament all add up to a team to beat. Plus, the Tar Heels have proved they don't play down to their competition. They crush it.

No. 7 seed Marist. The Red Foxes haven't had to feel what it's like to lose since Dec. 12 and generally destroyed the competition in the MAAC. But really, it's the confidence from that 2007 Sweet 16 appearance that makes Marist extra dangerous.

Who's Not: No. 10 seed DePaul. Wins over Seton Hall and Marquette are all the Blue Demons have to show for the final two-plus weeks. More importantly, their usually high-scoring offense has been inconsistent.

Possible matchup to watch: Angel McCoughtry versus LaToya Pringle. The first is a great scorer, the second a great defender. If styles make fights, this potential Louisville-North Carolina matchup in a regional semifinal could be epic.

Possible upset: No. 12 seed Chattanooga over No. 5 seed Kansas State in the first round. Can the Wildcats recover from losing Kimberly Dietz?