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Broncos, Titans Rely On 3 Guards

Rashod Johnson fearlessly fires off-balance 3-pointers, challenges his conservative-thinking coach and celebrates with shimmies, shakes and smiles.

Saddi Washington usually plays it safe, measuring opponents and analyzing weaknesses before smoothly gliding to the basket. Jason Kimbrough takes over games when necessary but doesn’t need the spotlight.

The play of Johnson, Washington and Kimbrough, three small senior guards with different personalities, let Western Michigan upset Clemson in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional.

They’ll need to be even better - if that’s possible - for the 11th-seeded Broncos (21-7) to compete with tall, talented and third-seeded Stanford (27-4) in today’s second round

Tenth-seeded Detroit (25-5) also will use a three-guard attack when it faces Purdue (27-7), the second seed, in today’s other game at the United Center in Chicago. Derrick Hayes scored 27 points in leading Detroit to a first-round victory over St. John’s.

Back to the drawing board

Bryce Drew’s 3-point shot that beat Mississippi 70-69 at the buzzer has caused a problem for his father, Valparaiso coach Homer Drew.

“I’ll have to find a new play for the end of the game,” Homer said. “It’s been shown on TV so many times everyone has seen it.”

Where’s coach?

UCLA, Kentucky and Michigan are three of the most history-rich programs in the country. With 18 national championships in all, they’re certainly a worthy group for the second round of the NCAA South Regional in Atlanta.

Then there’s Saint Louis.

This is a school that has a mascot hardly anyone can explain, a coach who got trapped in his own locker room at halftime of the first-round game, and a freshman leading the charge for national recognition.

At the very least, the Billikens have added some levity to the tension-packed atmosphere of the NCAA Tournament. Coach Charlie Spoonhour had everyone buckled over in laughter when he told of being temporarily confined in the locker room Friday.

One of the workers at the Georgia Dome locked the door after the Saint Louis players returned to the court for the second half of their 51-46 victory over Massachusetts. Spoonhour, though, was still inside.

How the conferences are doing

For the second consecutive year, the Pac-10 went undefeated in the first round. Of the conference’s four teams, two - Washington and Arizona - have advanced to the Sweet 16. Today, UCLA plays Michigan and Stanford plays Western Michigan… . The Pac-10 and Mid-Continent (Valparaiso) are the only undefeated conferences through Saturday. The ACC (6-1, with Clemson out), Big Ten (5-2, with Indiana and Illinois out) and Big East (5-2, with St. John’s and Miami out) are also doing well. Among the power conferences, the Atlantic 10 (1-3) and SEC (2-4) have fared the worst.

Trivia time

Tenth-seeded West Virginia’s victory over No. 2 seed Cincinnati was the 24th time that one of the top 16 overall seeds lost in the second round (seeding began in 1979).

Last year, Providence, a No. 10, defeated Duke, a No. 2. No. 9 Boston College’s victory over No. 1 North Carolina was one of three such stunners in ‘94. In ‘85, it happened four times, including No. 8 Villanova’s win over Michigan, a No. 1, on the way to the national championship.

Michigan State will be making its sixth appearance in the round of 16 and its first since 1990… . Princeton was trying to become the first Ivy League team to reach the round of 16 since Penn in 1979 and was trying to get there for the first time since 1965, when it advanced to the Final Four… . The loss snapped Princeton’s 20-game winning streak, the best in school history and the longest in the nation.