Exactly a week earlier in Anaheim, the Utah basketball players and coaches were exhibiting the same kind of quiet confidence they were showing Friday as they prepared for the biggest game of their lives.

Last week in the finals of the West Regionals, nobody gave the Utes any chance against No. 1- seeded Arizona, but the Utes confidently acted as if they had something up their sleeves. It turned out they did to the tune of a 76-51 destruction of the defending national champs.This time around, when the Utes meet Antawn Jamison and top-ranked North Carolina in the NCAA semifinals at the Alamo-dome, they won't enjoy the same element of surprise. They don't expect North Carolina to be looking past them like Arizona might have been, but the Utes feel confident in their own preparation and abilities.

"Obviously we're here to win," said center Michael Doleac. "They are players are just like we are. No one expected us to be here, but as long as we're here, we might as well win it."

"We're not going to lay over and let North Carolina run over us," said Andre Miller. "We made it this far, why not make it all the way and win it?"

So do the Utes have some tricks they're ready to unleash on the unsuspecting Tar Heels like they did to Arizona in Anaheim? Not likley.

When asked earlier in the week, what he had planned for North Carolina, Utah coach Rick Majerus replied, "Most games I don't like to lay it out in the paper what we're going to do. If Carolina will give us their game plan, we'd be glad to tell you ours."

However, Majerus did say there were "four or five things, if we do, we'll win the game." Later in another interview he spelled out some specific things the Utes had to do to win.

"We need to get back on the break, body them on the glass and make them work defensively," he said.

Going by those comments and some others that have been made this week, here's what the Utes are likely going to have to do to come out victorious tonight.

- Play tough defense and not give up any transistion baskets. The Utes can't afford to get into a run and gun game against the quicker, faster Tar Heels. They also must contain Jamison.

- Play physical. The Utes usually do that, much to the chagrin of opponents, but because North Carolina isn't a real physical team, it has an advantage if the officials allow a physical game.

- Be patient yet aggressive on offense. The Utes usually are patient in their shot selection, but if they get too tentative, they struggle. They need to go strong to the hoop and try to get the Tar Heels in foul trouble since they're not a very deep team.

Don't expect to see the triangle and two defense that got so much attention last week that Majerus expected to see it "getting a Web site." Instead, the Utes will likely rely on their reliable man-to-man defense.

First-year North Carolina coach Bill Guthridge expects to see a man-to-man but adds, "I wouldn't be surprised if they try some gimmick defense."

Guthridge adds, "I think they are obviously one of the best defensive teams in the country. Of course, their rebounding margin is the best in the country. That's part of their defense; they're such a good boxing-out team."

The game could come down to field goal shooting.

The Tar Heels are the No. 1 team in the nation in field goal percentage at 52.7. On the other hand, Utah is No. 2 in the nation in field goal percentage defense, holding its opponents to just 38.1 percent.

The Utes will have similar problems against the Tar Heels, who are No. 11 in the nation in field goal percentage defense.

Utah may see more zone than it has seen since the WAC tournament when UNLV's zone baffled the Utes into a 54-51 loss.

"I think we're ready to play against a zone," said Ute guard Drew Hansen. "West Virginia played some zone against us, and we got some good shots against them. Obviously we're going to see the most zone of the tournament tomorrow night. It's harder to block out in a zone, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage to get some offensive rebounds."

North Carolina's Shammond Williams is especially looking forward to tonight's game. In last year's semifinals, Williams went an abysmal 1 for 13 from the field.

However, Williams, despite being the third leading scorer on the team, isn't expected to start. Guth-ridge rotates his six top players in and out of the starting lineup and does it by alphabetical order. This happens to be Williams' turn to sit out at the start, but he'll still see 25 to 30 minutes of action.

The other Tar Heel starters besides Jamison will be Vince Carter and Ed Cota in the backcourt, and Ademola Okulaja and Makhtar Ndi-aye in the frontcourt.

The Utes will counter with the lineup they've used nearly every game this season with Doleac at center, Hanno Mottola and Alex Jensen at forwards and Hansen and Miller in the backcourt.

Reports earlier in the week said that several Ute players were battling the flu, but trainer Gerald Fischer said Friday those reports were exaggerated and that three or four players, including Miller, who were fighting colds were almost all better.

If the Utes win tonight, they'll face the winner of the Kentucky-Stanford game (3:42 p.m. today) Monday night at 7:15 MST.

"Our goal is to practice on Sunday," said Majerus. "Our Mormon players want to practice on Sunday, the Catholics want to practice on Sunday - we all want to practice on Sunday."

*****

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Final Four Coverage

Team matchups D6

Coach Cleveland D6

Media sessions D8

Doug Robinson D10

Hanno Mottola D10

Media watch D10

LDS players D11

*****

Point Guard

Andre Miller

University of Utah

#24

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 200

Age: 21

Year: Jr.

Hometown: Los Angeles

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

14.1 5.2 5.2 2.2

Miller looked like the best point guard on the planet a week ago in Anaheim when he put up those mind-boggling numbers of 18 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists. He's best in the open court when he can drive to the hoop with his dazzling array of moves. His outside shot is suspect, and he sometimes struggles againnst zone defenses. Defensively he's above average but has to keep out of four trouble.

Ed Cota

North Carolina

#5

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 185

Age: 21

Year: Soph.

Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

8.1 3.5 7.4 1.6

Last year when he averaged 8.0 points, Cota became the fourth UNC player to win ACC rookie-of-the-year honors and was a first-team freshman all-American. He's the kind of point guard who looks to pass first and shoot second and has the ability to see passing lanes others don't see. He doesn't have Miller's rebounding ability but mostly stays out on the perimeter and directs the offense.

Shooting Guard

Drew Hansen

University of Utah

$34

Height: 6'5"

Weight: 195

Age: 22

Year: Sr.

Hometown: Tooele, Utah

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

5.7 2.9 2.2 0.9

Hansen probably wouldn't start for too many teams in Division I basketball. In his four-year career, he's never dunked in a game and can barely do it in practice. He's known for his defense, tenacity, leadership and, of course, intelligence, as an academic all-American. But he can also shoot, with a team best 46 percent mark from 3-point range.

Vince Carter

North Carolina

#15

Height: 6'7"

Weight: 215

Age: 21

Year: Jr.

Hometown: Daytona Beach, Fla.

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

15.4 5.1 2.0 1.2

Carter is an NBA prospect who has amde several second-team all-America teams. He can play several positions, but mostly shooting guard and small forward. He has the size and quickness to defend smaller players but also the strength to play inside. He is a good shooter (59 percent) with good 3-point range (43 of 103) for a guy his size.

Small Forward

Alex Jensen

University of Utah

#50

Height: 6'7"

Weight: 225

Age: 21

Year: Soph.

Hometown: Centerville, Utah

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

6.6 6.0 2.3 0.8

Jensen is one of the nicest players around and that can be one his biggest problems on the court. He has to be begged by his coach to shoot the ball (he only attempts 4.8 shots per game.) He's a warrior, however, on the boards (10 vs. Arizona) and as a defender. It was his defense on Arizona all-American Miles Simon that was one of the most overlooked keys to the Ute upset victory.

Antawn Jamison

North Carolina

#33

Height: 6'9"

Weight: 223

Age: 21

Year: Jr.

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

22.4 10.5 0.8 0.8

What else can you say about Jamison, who is a consensus all-American and should win several player of the year awards? Jamison does it all for the Tar Heels in scoring, rebounding and with his leadership. He has remarkably soft hands for a big man, which helps in grabbing rebounds and catching entry passes. He has a very good touch around the basket and is a terrific leaper.

Big Forward

Hanno Mottola

University of Utah

#13

Height: 6'10"

Weight: 230

Age: 21

Year: Soph.

Hometown: Helsinki, Finland

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

12.5 5.4 0.8 0.4

After a strong start, Mottola went into a brief slump but appeared to break out of it last week against Arizona. Mottola is better when he has an aggressive mindset and drives to the hoop and rebounds. He has the ability to shoot outside, even in 3-point range, but needs to stay inside more for this game. He is average defensively, but Majerus said he had one of best defensive games against Arizona.

Ademola Okulaja

North Carolina

#13

Height: 6'9"

Weight: 235

Age: 22

Year: Jr.

Hometown: Berlin, Germany

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

8.0 5.5 2.1 1.1

He was born in Nigeria but came to Carolina from Germany. Okulaja is probably the Tar Heels' best defender and may end up on Doleac for much of the game. He has quick hands and feet and is known as an emotional leader of the team. He is also an excellent rebounder but isn't counted on for much of the scoring, although he can play out on the perimeter.

Center

Michael Doleac

University of Utah

#55

Height: 6'11"

Weight: 265

Age: 20

Year: Sr.

Hometown: Portland, Ore.

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

16.2 7.1 0.5 0.3

Doleac has really turned it on in the postseason, averaging 21.0 points, 7.5 rebounds on 54.8 percent shooting in the NCAAs. Where he has really shined has been at the foul line, where he is 37-of-41 (90.2 percent). Doleac is known more for his strength than his quickness and will need to go to the hoop and attract some fouls. His rebounding has alway been suspect, and he'll need to step it up against the Tar Heels' big men.

Makhtar Ndiaye

North Carolina

#4

Height: 6'10"

Weight: 231

Age: 24

Year: Sr.

Hometown: Dakar, Senegal

PTS. REB. ASST. STL.

5.9 4.1 0.8 0.6

The biggest problem for Ndiaye is simply in the game, as he always seems to be in foul trouble. He has fouled out of eight games and averages nearly four fouls per game. He won't hurt you with his scoring but is a good defensive player with shot-blocking skills. He is an unselfish player who is known for his enthusiasm on the floor.