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UF vs. UNC: Who has the edge

By Compiled by JOANNE KORTH

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2000


THREE-POINT SHOOTING: Both teams shoot with equal efficiency -- Florida 37 percent, North Carolina 35 percent -- but the Gators are more effective with three-point shooting. UF is 253 of 686 this season; UNC 164 of 470. In the NCAA Tournament, the Gators are 27 of 74; the Tar Heels 13 of 40. UF has four primary threats with at least 44 threes each this season -- Teddy Dupay, Kenyan Weaks, Mike Miller and Brett Nelson -- but eight have hit from beyond the arc in the tournament. UNC's Joseph Forte and Jason Capel are a combined 11 of 35 in the tournament, with Max Owens 2-for-2 off the bench. EDGE: Florida

FREE-THROW SHOOTING: Both teams hit about 70 percent for the season, but Florida has been better in the NCAA Tournament, upping its percentage to 75 while North Carolina's has slipped to 67. The Gators have been particularly good protecting a lead, making 13 of 16 down the stretch against Illinois and their final seven against Duke. Their only liability is freshman forward Donnell Harvey, a 60 percent shooter whose left-handed attempts are an adventure. UNC center Brendan Haywood has struggled mightily in the tournament, hitting 9 of 20.

EDGE: Florida

EDGE: North Carolin

REBOUNDING: The Tar Heels rebound from all five positions. In the NCAA Tournament, wide-body Haywood leads with 9.0 per game, but even point guard Ed Cota is averaging 5.5. In the tournament, UNC is outrebounding opponents 40-34. Florida learned a hard lesson about blocking out in last year's NCAA Tournament, losing in the Sweet 16 to Gonzaga on a tip-in with 4.4 seconds left. Miller leads with 9.0 per game in the tournament, but the star is Harvey, who has 10 offensive rebounds among his 22 total

EDGE: North Carolina

COACHING: Florida's Billy Donovan, 34, is the youngest coach at the Final Four, but has plenty of experience. He played in the 1987 Final Four as a senior guard at Providence and was a Kentucky assistant coach in 1993. Willing to take risks, Donovan is as fearless with his coaching decisions as his players are in executing them. Bill Guthridge, 62, has silenced plenty of critics with the Tar Heels' Final Four run. He is less excitable than Donovan, but his even temperament will help UNC stay calm in the frenzy of Florida's full-court press. Surely, he learned a thing or two all those years on the bench with UNC legend Dean Smith

EDGE: Florida

INTANGIBLES: Florida is in the Final Four for the second time in program history with a team comprised largely of underclassmen. They were awed by the police escort that parted a sea of traffic from the airport to their hotel, let alone the thousands of people who watched practice on Friday. North Carolina is in the Final Four for the third time in four seasons and Cota and Haywood have national semifinal experience. Amid all the hoopla, flash bulbs and distractions, that has to count for something. EDGE: North Carolin

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