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Midwest Regional Notebook
By: UCLA Athletics

March 23, 2000

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said before the NCAA tournament started that Michigan State was his favorite to win the national championship.

He's changed his tune now that the Orangemen and Spartans will meet in the Midwest Regional semifinals Thursday night at The Palace.

"They were my choice," Boeheim said after Syracuse's 90-minute workout Wednesday afternoon. "I never pick against my own team."

Boeheim said he initially favored the Spartans because of their returning talent and last year's Final Four experience.

"I had them and Cincinnati in my mind as the top two teams all along, and when (Cincinnati star) Kenyon Martin got hurt, that left only one," Boeheim said.

After he was told of Boeheim's remarks, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was asked if he picked a favorite in the tournament.

"Syracuse," Izzo said.

Top-seeded Michigan State plays No. 4 Syracuse in the first half of Thursday's regional doubleheader before No. 2 Iowa State takes on sixth-seeded UCLA.

WOWING THE CROWD: There were equal parts practice and pep rally when Michigan State went through its Palace workout.

The Spartans, playing only about 80 minutes away from their East Lansing campus, drew a decidedly partisan crowd of about 3,500 to watch their practice.

Chants of "Go Green ... Go White" and "Let's Go State" were heard often, and many fans were seen mugging for television cameras.

The highlight came late in the 90-minute workout, when Izzo cut his team loose for a little showtime dunking exhibition.

Freshman Jason Richardson brought down the house with a pair of spectacular dunks, including one where he spun the ball around his back and between his legs before windmilling it through the hoop.

EYE ON THE PRIZE: UCLA coach Steve Lavin said he had just one bit of advice for Earl Watson after the Bruins' point guard underwent laser eye surgery earlier this week.

"Stay focused," Lavin said.

Watson had the surgery to correct a problem after he took an elbow to his left eye during the Bruins' 105-70 rout of Maryland last week. Watson played a career game with 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting (5-for-6 from 3-point range) with a school-record 16 assists and no turnovers.

"After Earl took the elbow, he hit five of six 3-pointers and his passes, most of which took place after the elbow," Lavin said. "And I don't think it's affected his vision at all. He's had a lot of injuries over the year and he's a tough kid and has played through them.

"He said he felt good today after the hour workout, and that was my biggest concern, to get a feel for where he's at, and he looked pretty good."

WARMING UP: During Syracuse's practice Wednesday, Orangemen center Etan Thomas was working on some post moves with a teammate.

"Three seconds!" yelled a Michigan State fan sitting in the stands.

MISSING YOU: Iowa State athletic director Gene Smith has both his men's and women's teams playing in the Sweet 16, but he won't be able to watch either play in person.

Smith is also a member of the NCAA men's basketball committee and will supervise the East regional at Syracuse this weekend.

Smith's absence from The Palace also prevented him from a homecoming of sorts. He was athletic director at nearby Eastern Michigan before moving to Iowa State.

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Friday, Oct 30
vs. Cal State Los ...
Los Angeles, CA
W, 95 - 57
Friday, Nov 13
vs. Monmouth
Los Angeles, CA
L, 81 - 84 (OT)
Sunday, Nov 15
vs. Cal Poly
Los Angeles, CA
W, 88 - 83
Thursday, Nov 19
vs. Pepperdine
Los Angeles, CA
W, 81 - 67
Monday, Nov 23
vs. UNLV
Lahaina, HI
W, 77 - 75
Tuesday, Nov 24 - 7:00 PM PST
vs. Kansas
Lahaina, HI
Wednesday, Nov 25 - TBA PST
vs. Vanderbilt or Wake ...
Lahaina, HI
Sunday, Nov 29 - 4:00 PM PST
vs. CSUN
Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, Dec 03 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Kentucky
Los Angeles, CA
Sunday, Dec 06 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Long Beach State
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Dec 12 - 7:00 PM PST
at Gonzaga
Spokane, WA
Tuesday, Dec 15 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Dec 19 - 10:00 AM PST
vs. North Carolina
Brooklyn, NY
Tuesday, Dec 22 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. McNeese State
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, Jan 01 - 8:00 PM PST
at Washington
Seattle, WA
Sunday, Jan 03 - 6:30 PM PST
at Washington State
Pullman, WA
Thursday, Jan 07 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Arizona
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Jan 09 - 2:00 PM PST
vs. Arizona State
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, Jan 13 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. USC
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, Jan 20 - 8:00 PM PST
at Oregon State
Corvallis, OR
Saturday, Jan 23 - 1:00 PM PST
at Oregon
Eugene, OR
Thursday, Jan 28 - 7:00 PM PST
vs. Washington
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Jan 30 - 4:00 PM PST
vs. Washington State
Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, Feb 04 - 7:30 PM PST
at USC
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, Feb 12 - 6:00 PM PST
at Arizona
Tucson, AZ
Sunday, Feb 14 - 5:30 PM PST
at Arizona State
Tempe, AZ
Thursday, Feb 18 - 7:00 PM PST
vs. Utah
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Feb 20 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. Colorado
Los Angeles, CA