UNLV's winning streak is at 44 games and the Runnin' Rebels are only a victory away from going to the Final Four to defend their NCAA title.
Today's West Regional final at Seattle will be a rematch of the 1989 West final, won by Seton Hall 84-61."If anything, it's a negative," Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo said of his team's 23-point victory over UNLV two years ago.
UNLV starters Stacey Augmon, Anderson Hunt, Greg Anthony and George Ackles were with the Rebels for that game. Larry Johnson of UNLV was in junior college, however.
"I'm sure Stacey and Anderson and Greg remember that game," Carlesimo said. "They were much younger and all our older guys are gone. Now we're younger."
UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian watched the end of Seton Hall's 81-77 victory over No. 8 Arizona before top-ranked UNLV beat No. 10 Utah 83-66 Thursday night.
"Seton Hall is playing great ball," Tarkanian said. "(Terry) Dehere is playing out of his mind. And we have a great deal of respect for P.J."
Seton Hall (25-8) and UNLV (33-0) play in today's second regional final. No. 12 Kansas (25-7) and second-ranked Arkansas (34-3) play earlier in the Southeast final at Charlotte, N.C.
The East and the Midwest played their regional semifinals Friday night. In the East, No. 4 North Carolina (27-5) played Eastern Michigan (26-6) and Temple (23-9) played No. 14 Oklahoma State (24-7). In the Midwest, No. 5 Ohio State (27-3) played No. 20 St. John's (22-8) and No. 6 Duke (28-7) played Connecticut (20-10).
The 1989 Seton Hall team that beat UNLV lost to Michigan 80-79 in overtime in Seattle's Kingdome in the NCAA championship game. This team doesn't have that experience, but Carlesimo likes its heart.
"These kids are so resilient," Carlesimo said. "They're so mentally tough. Those are cliches, but they're true."
In the Southeast, Kansas and Arkansas have little in common except impressive semifinal victories. And even those came in different ways.
Kansas' 83-65 dismantling of Indiana became evident early as the Jayhawks (25-7) took a 20-point lead in the first 71/2 minutes. Arkansas (34-3) waited until the middle of the second half before getting its offense untracked in a 93-70 win over Alabama.
"With Arkansas, you have to beat an attitude and that's that they are coming at you for 40 minutes and you will wilt," Kansas coach Roy Williams said. "Our attitude is that we will be there for 40 minutes. Arkansas and Indiana are similar in one way. It's not that difficult to prepare for either, but it's a different story to play them."
Arkansas forced 840 turnovers this season and Alabama was charged with 26 Thursday night. The Razorbacks want a quick tempo, as shown by their 100.1 per game scoring average, 16 points more than Kansas averaged.
"Our game plan never changes," Razorbacks coach Nolan Richardson said. "We don't change game plans for anyone. I think your worst enemy is yourself, so when we go to practice we'll work on our break, our halfcourt offense. We'll work on our defenses and their changes and then we'll go play. Habits are the keys to success and our habit is to go out and do what we do well and not worry about Kansas. Make them stop what we do well."