M College BB
Weekly lineup
 Tuesday, March 14
Virginia vs. Minnesota
By Jay Bilas
Special to ESPN.com

 These are two programs at vastly different places on the college basketball spectrum. Virginia sees only bright colors because things are looking up under Pete Gillen. Last season, when Gillen had a bartender playing minutes for him, is a distant memory. Gillen now has the dilemma of having to keep players happy with less playing time, instead of finding new places to be found staring when his players were begging for a sub. Virginia can now come at foes in waves, instead of in harmless ripples.

Minnesota, on the other hand, has gone through nine months of agony. The questions raised about academic fraud, allegations of further wrongdoing in the conduct of the investigation, and the unseemly departure of Clem Haskins have clouded the program, and no doubt, clouded the minds of the young men that remain on the roster. Virginia is the stronger team at this stage, but will face a stern test against Joel Przybilla, a 7-foot-1 shot-blocking machine.

When Virginia has the ball
Pete Gillen likes to play fast, up-tempo basketball. This team has the skilled athletes to do that. Last season, Virginia ran five-man motion looking to penetrate and kick the ball out. They set ballscreens and looked for a chaotic pace to try to find easy baskets instead of having to grind out halfcourt offense. The Cavaliers push the ball upcourt on every turnover and missed shot, and they will shoot a lot of 3-pointers. Gillen inserted a double-high delay game, and the Cavaliers ran a lot of "screen for the screener" action.

Players to watch
Minnesota's Joel Przybilla and Virginia's Travis Watson. Przybilla is one of the premier shot-blockers in the nation, and he changes far more shots than he blocks (while still blocking plenty). Last season, Przybilla rejected 10 Fresno State shots, and center Melvin Ely was very gun-shy after a few of his offerings reached the seats.

Watson has demonstrated the ability to grab big rebounds in traffic and find his way to the free throw line. In his first game, Watson played 17 minutes, scored 15 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and shot 13 free throws. That shows a guy in the middle of the action.

The big guns for Virginia last season were Chris Williams, a smooth and very active wing forward who can shoot with range. Williams is a finesse player, but tough, with a solid mid-range game. With the new talent around him, Williams can now blend in around them instead of having to do it all himself.

Donald Hand and Chezley Watson return, and both had solid seasons in 1999. Hand has good quickness with open-court ability, and Watson is a physical defender who can get into the lane. Adam Hall is a great athlete with unreal potential as a defender. Hall is a high-wire act with guts and good instincts.

Majestic Mapp is a pure point guard who has a pass first mentality and pretty good range on his shot. Actually, Mapp has been called Ed Cota with a jumper. Roger Mason and Travis Watson will add new dimensions to this team. Mason is a slasher who looked stunning in preseason workouts, and Watson is a big-time rebounder, aggressive and tough. Watson was 31-0 last season at Oak Hill Academy on his way to Parade All-American honors.

When Minnesota has the ball
Virginia will play tough man-to-man defense in the halfcourt, and the Cavaliers can play it fullcourt as well. The Cavaliers like to trap out of their man defense, and they play some 2-3 and 1-3-1 halfcourt zone. Gillen is a believer in fullcourt pressure, and you can bank on the Gophers seeing a lot of 1-2-2 fullcourt pressure in addition to man. The Cavs use quick hands and quick feet to get deflections and steals, and they play hard.

Dan Monson had a fine group of shooters at Gonzaga, and he used his point guard Quentin Hall to break down defenses to kick the ball out to well-spaced shooters who had knock-down ability. Clearly this season, Monson will try to get the ball inside to Joel Przybilla, who was primarily a shot-blocker and rebounder last season. Przybilla has worked on his offensive game and has developed some more refined and reliable post moves.

Terrance Simmons emerged over the summer on a team trip to Europe as a leader and the likely choice at point guard. J.B. Bickerstaff, the transfer from Oregon State, has scoring ability and can create his own shot. Kevin Nathaniel and Mitch Ohnstad were both somewhat erratic shooters last season, and both need to step forward and be factors.

Minnesota has more questions than answers early, and this game will provide Monson with a gauge on what he needs to do to get this team competitive.


Bilas' breakdown: Wisconsin vs. Wake Forest

Bilas' breakdown: Duke vs. Illinois

Bilas' breakdown: Iowa vs. Maryland

Bilas' breakdown: Michigan State vs. North Carolina

Bilas' breakdown: N.C. State vs. Purdue

Bilas' breakdown: Michigan vs. Georgia Tech

Bilas' breakdown: Clemson vs. Penn State

Bilas' breakdown: Florida State vs. Northwestern