From his perspective of coming within two points of a national title two years ago, Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo thinks UNLV can be beaten.

But Carlesimo quickly points out that the defending NCAA champions must cooperate in their own demise and that time is running out quickly."Vegas is the best team in the country," Carlesimo said Wednesday. "They have the best players. If they play as well as they're capable, nobody is going to beat them.

"But if they don't play as well as they're capable of playing, Vegas can be beaten."

Seton Hall (24-8) will take on Arizona (28-6) at 6:10 p.m. MST. Arizona is favored by 31/2 points. The UNLV-Utah game will follow 30 minutes after the Seton Hall-Arizona contest ends.

Everybody expects to see UNLV against Arizona - Jerry Tarkanian against bitter coaching rival Lute Olson of the Wildcats - in the Regional final on Saturday.

UNLV destroyed Duke 103-73 in last year's NCAA championship game in Denver. Tarkanian, 60, says this year's UNLV team is better.

The Arizona-Seton Hall game matches the Wildcats' "Tucson Skyline" of 6-11 Brian Williams, 6-10 Sean Rooks and 7-foot Ed Stokes against a smaller Pirates' front line that includes 6-10 Anthony Avent.

Seton Hall's offense comes mainly from its backcourt. Sophomore shooting guard Terry Dehere scored a total of 54 points in first-and second-rpund tournament victories over Pepperdine and Creighton in Salt Lake City. Dehere is averaging 19.7 points and Avent 18.1.

Small forward Chris Mills is Arizona's leading scorer at 15.4 points.

Olson, 56, would like to have a crack at beating Tarkanian and UNLV on Saturday, but he's not sure if the Wildcats can beat the Big East tournament champions from South Orange, N.J.

"There isn't any game beyond Thursday night as far as we're concerned," Olson said. "It's a one-game season now."

Seton Hall played the biggest game in its basketball history in the Kingdome. The Pirates lost 80-79 to Michigan for the 1988-89 NCAA championship in Seattle.

"It's going to be a very interesting game," Avent said. "Arizona is bigger than we are, so it's going to be a very physical game."