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PREDICTIONS FAVOR ILLINI

MIKE HARRINGTON
Illinois vs. Louisville
Look for both teams to do major damage from the perimeter, with each club potentially canning at least 10 three-pointers. Illinois guard Deron Williams did the job last week holding Arizona's Salim Stoudamire to nine points. Williams will have to key the effort against Louisville gunners Francisco Garcia and Taquan Dean.

No reason to pick against the nation's top team now.

Illinois 89, Louisville 81.

North Carolina vs. Mich. State
On pure talent, North Carolina is easily the best team here. But the Tar Heels can disappear for stretches defensively. Matchups, however, heavily point in Carolina's favor. Look for State point guard Drew Neitzel to struggle mightily against Carolina's Raymond Felton. On the inside, Sean May figures to put up another double-double and cause chaos for State in the low post. If the Tar Heels force turnovers and get their transition game going, it will be a long night for the Spartans.

N. Carolina 81, Mich. State 72.

JERRY SULLIVAN
Illinois vs. Louisville
Louisville has won 13 and a row and 22 of 23, but the Cardinals still feel they haven't earned their proper respect. They're still bitter about getting a No. 4 seed from the selection committee. Well, they're good and they're dangerous. But they haven't faced an opponent quite like Illinois. The Illini are deeper and better up front. Look for Deron Williams to be the best player on the floor.

Illinois 80, Louisville 76

North Carolina vs. Mich. State
No way I'm backing off after picking Michigan State to get this far. The Spartans are hitting their stride at just the right time under Tom Izzo. Carolina has ridiculous talent, but you can always count on a Roy Williams team to lose to a lesser seed at some point in the NCAAs. State's offensive rebounding and free-throw shooting will be the difference.

Mich. State 77, N. Carolina 74

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