Sweet Sixteen: Round One

Previewing the Thursday Nights games


(4)Wisconsin Badgers vs (1)Syracuse Orange

7:15 pm in Boston

Who to watch in this game:

Syracuse’s Dion Waiters: The Big East’s sixth man of the year.

Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor: The point guard is not just the Badgers’ best scorer, he’s their best ballhandler.

Watch the pace of the game. There are few teams who have been able to force tempo against the deliberate Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers averages only 59.2 possessions per game, that’s the fewest in the country. Wisconsin can also score, averaging 66.7 points per game.

For this Syracuse team its especially strong on the fast break. Syracuse can score in a halfcourt set, but if the Orangemen can up the tempo on Wisconsin, things could get tricky quickly for the Badgers.

Could this be where Fab Melo (out due to academic reasonings) is missed most for Syracuse? Melo would have been a huge asset in a half court game, and could’ve been the difference maker in this particular game.

Look for a slow paced game, just like the one Syracuse faced against Louisville March 3rd. They ended up winning that game 58 – 49. Look for the same type of score here.

Prediction: Syracuse 61 – Wisconsin 59

RESULT: Syracuse 64 – Wisconsin 63


(4)Louisville Cardinals vs (1)Michigan State Spartans

7:47 pm in Phoenix

Who to watch in this game:

Michigan State’s Draymond Green: Averaging 20 ppg, 12.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists a game in the tournament, these stats say it all.

Louisville Cardinal’s Peyton Siva: Has picked up his play in the tournament, looks to continue that play in game number three.

Could you ask for a better coaching matchup with Tom Izzo vs. Rick Pitino. These are two future Hall of Famers, each with championship rings already.

In this match-up, one big question is simple. Can Louisville contain the multi-faceted skills of Draymond Green? Louisville will have to find a way to contain him to give them a chance to win.

All Green has done against Saint Louis was score 19 points, grab 13 rebounds and dish out six assists. While the Spartans have shot 54.3 percent from the floor in that win.

The Cardinals have won six straight games and are healthy now. That has not happened often this season as Pitino has done a quite a coaching magic act.

Louisville plays in a tougher Big East conference, and are very hot right now.

This will be  a very tough game won by the Cardinals in the upset!

Prediction: Louisville 62 – Michigan State 59

RESULT: Louisville 57 – Michigan State 44


(6) Cincinnati Bearcats vs (2) Ohio State Buckeyes

9:45 pm in Boston

Who to watch in this game:

Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas: He leads the NCAA tournament with 30 points in the paint in two games.

Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick: If he gets hot, the Buckeyes could have some problems.

That the two are finally reconnecting with something critical on the line makes this all the more delicious for the state of Ohio.

Despite being separated by a little more than 100 miles, Ohio State and Cincinnati have met just once since the 1962 championship game.

Crazy stat, Cincinnati has not made it to the Sweet 16 since 2001 and hasn’t made it out of the regional semifinals since 1996.

With a much smaller lineup, the Bobcats are going to have to be very conservative inside. While Yancy Gates will have his hands full with Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas, and can’t allow those two to dominate on the boards or in the scoring column. I’m not even sure that’s possible.

The Bearcats will try to bully Ohio State into a plodding, physical game that will keep the Buckeyes out of the open court. Cincinnati is a combined plus-6 in rebounding margin in its two wins as it held an edge on the boards against the Longhorns and Seminoles. If one of Ohio State’s stars is hindered with an injury or fouls it could derail the team’s continuity on offense, but the Buckeyes have demonstrated an ability to dodge those issues and should continue to fight their way toward New Orleans.

Prediction: Ohio State 77 – Cincinnati 68

RESULT: Ohio State 81 – Cincinnati 66


(7) Florida Gators vs (3)Marquette Golden Eagles

10:17 pm in Phoenix

Who to watch in this game:

Florida’s Bradley Beal: The freshman has been solid in the first two games of the tournament, he’ll have to continue to give Florida a chance.

Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom: The guard is a scoring machine, playing as a senior always gives players extra motivation.

Thus far, Florida has been dominant in the tournament, outscoring Virginia and Norfolk State by a combined 60 points. The Gators’ past six games have been against tournament teams, so there shouldn’t be many nerves. Marquette hammered BYU and handled upstart Murray State. This could be one of the more entertaining games of the tournament as both teams prefer to get up and down the court and score rather than defend. So it may come down to who makes the most shots. In a game like that, the team that rebounds is often the one that comes out on top because, well, that means they have the ball more and can score more. That description better fits Marquette, a more physical team with more talent in the frontcourt, led by Crowder. Florida has to start well and make its threes, otherwise the Sweet 16 could be golden for the Eagles.

Florida leads the nation in 3-pointers with 9.8 per game and both teams average in the neighborhood of 76 points.

Marquettes Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder whoaverages 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds should also be a big contributer along with Johnson-Odom in creating the toughest match-up for Florida thus far.

Crowder has been dominant in the tourney with 42 points and 29 rebounds in two games. Marquette’s defense will come out and challenge Floridas guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker on the perimeter. Marquette is tenacious and played in a stronger conference. Florida will surprise and prevail in this matchup.

Prediction: Florida 70 – Marquette 65

RESULT: Florida 68 – Marquette 58





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