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April 01, 2004 - Image 13

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-01

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 13A
Showdown in the Garden
It all comes down to this: the NIT Championship Game at Madison Square Garden tonight. With a win, Michigan will be one of only two teams in all of division I college basketball to
end its year with a postseason win. The team is coming off of a 25-point dismantling of Oregon, while Rutgers overcame Iowa State's late-game heroics for an overtime victory. The
crowd at Madison Square Garden was largely behind Rutgers, as it will undoubtedly be tonight. Here's how the Daily basketball writers see the teams shaking down.
TONIGHT
Mihian(99 Big 'Ten, 22-1. overall) vs,
R tes (7-40 Big East, 2042)
T "me t 7 p t.
Ma°snSquare Garden m ESPN

Dion Harris - The unassuming freshman has been
swaggering a lot more lately, thanks to some sharp
shooting from the field during the postseason. Tues-
day night, he made the most of his looks once again,
shooting 50 percent from the floor on the way to 14
points. He'd get the edge in most matchups, were he
not up against Rutgers' most consistent threat.

Key stats
10.0 points per game
77.3 percent on free throws
34 percent on 3-pointers

Shooting
guard
Edge:

Key stats
15.5 points per game
4.8 rebounds per game
90 made 3-pointers

Ricky Shields - The junior had been the star of the
Scarlet Knights until Douby emerged in the postsea-
son. He crossed the 1,000-point total for his career in
Rutgers' two-point loss to Syracuse earlier this sea-
son. In his third year at Rutgers, the 6-foot-4 guard
has averaged 15.5 points per contest.

'.I

Graham Brown - The sophomore's physical play
has been invaluable for the Wolverines during
their NIT run. He chipped in nine points in
Michigan's victory over Oregon on Tuesday, but
managed to grab just two boards. He will be need-
ed greatly tonight with Rutgers featuring multiple
big bodies down low.

Key stats
4.5 points per game
4.1 rebounds per game
56 total offensive boards

Power
Forward
Edge:

Key stats
5.6 points per game
6.6 rebounds per game
50 percent from the field

Sean Axani - At 6-foot-8, 235 lbs., Axani meas-
ures up pretty evenly with Brown down low. But
Axani is a senior, a team captain and a smart play-
er when it comes to rebounding. Case in point: In
Rutgers' win over Iowa State, Axani hauled down
17 rebounds to go with eight points.

Michigan - The Wolverines have two players that could start for most Division I
teams: center Chris Hunter, who is in mid-season form following an injury-ridden regu-
lar season, and guard Lester Abram, who is back at full-strength. Hunter added 10 on
Tuesday night thanks to excellent shooting, and Abram has adjusted to his role of com-
ing off the bench after coming back from his shoulder injury. Freshman forward Brent
Petway seems to improve with every game.

Bench
Edge:

Rutgers - With Douby now supplanted in the starting lineup, Rutgers relies on
sophmore center Adrian Hill and junior guard Juel Wiggan to provide a spark off the
bench. Hill is one of the Scarlet Knights' best rebounders and can defend well in the
interior. Wiggan is second on the team in assists, despite averaging just under 22 min-
utes a game.

Prediction

All year long, Michigan has had trouble playing in front of raucous crowds on the road. And despite the fact that there will likely be upwards of
2,000 Michigan fans in Madison Square Garden tomorrow night, the rest of the place will be packed with Rutgers faithful that make the short trip
over from New Jersey. But Michigan is playing as well as it has all year, as evidenced by the Wolverines' explosive dismantling of Oregon on Tues-
day. The Wolverines are deeper than the Scarlet Knights and are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. If Robinson can slow Douby, and
Michigan can come up with some type of presence on the inside, then the Wolverines have enough talent to walk off with the title.

Michigan, 74-70

LEWIS
Continued from Page 10A
hoops player, who, amazingly, pre-
pared himself for life simply by
shooting free throws.
In small quantities, the ads
aren't actually that bad - the
spots are certainly better than the
cheesy PSAs that schools run dur-
ing every televised college sport-
ing event. My biggest problem,
besides the fact that it feels like
the NCAA is stalking me, is that
the same two ads play over and
over and over again.
Why?!
If the NCAA really needed to

bombard us with images of athletes
who actually go to class, couldn't
it at least have designed a few
more versions of the ads?
The message might have some
merit. But how effective are the ads
going to be when they're shown
during one of the biggest events in
collegiate sports? Maybe, if they
run a few more million times, they
will start to counteract all of the
commercialism and hype surround-
ing the Final Four. Somehow, I
doubt it.
But the NCAA is relentless. And
I am defenseless. I have to watch
the Final Four this weekend. So I
might as well prepare myself to sur-

render to the psych major and the
free throw shooter. I can already
feel the NCAA taking over my
brain.
There are over 360,000 NCAA
student athletes ... Over 360,000
NCAA student athletes ... Over
360,000 ...

Courtney Lewis can be reached at r 9:18 p. nt
cmlewis@umich.edu £Nati... . hamponship Gmt
The PmichiI n Dij(ll
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Clarence Moore and the Yellow Jackets find themselves in the Final Four, but many
of this year's participants will still be going pro in something other than sports.

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