The NCAA Tournament resumes tonight with the East and West regions playing out their Sweet Sixteen match-ups. Here is a quick preview of each of the four games tonight.
3 MARQUETTE VS. 2 MIAMI
Time: 6:15 p.m.
KenPom: Miami over Marguette (64%)
Vegas: Miami -6
How in the world Marquette is still in this tournament? They’ve played about as poorly as a team can play and still advance to the Sweet Sixteen. There is a lot of me that is convinced Miami will blow Marquette out of the water tonight.
However, Miami will be without center Reggie Johnson tonight due to a minor knee procedure he underwent this past week. His inside presence is going to be missed against a very physical Golden Eagles team. How quickly the Hurricanes are able to adapt to the change and how well they can stay out of foul trouble is going to end up meaning a lot in this game.
Prediction: Miami should win this game but I’m afraid of fate being on Marquette’s side in this tournament. I’m still going with Miami but I’m not comfortable about it.
6 ARIZONA VS. 2 OHIO STATE
KenPom: Ohio State over Arizona (65%)
Vegas: Ohio State -3
Syracuse has been a different team since Jim Boeheim threatened to quit at the end of the regular season. Since then they have played up to their athletic potential in wins over Montana and California. The key phrase in that last sentence is “Montana and California.” Not necessarily the biggest challenges Syracuse has faced this season.
Indiana, on the other hand, will be a tough challenge. They play with Big East toughness and have athletes of their own in Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. There is going to be a lot of pressure on Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche to deny Indiana the ability to get the ball inside to Zeller and a lot of pressure on James Southerland and C.J. Fair to clean up on the boards. This won’t be an easy task.
But Syracuse is a very good defensive team and can be one of the best teams in the country when they are able to make shots. Easier said than done but also something very doable for a team that has looked very good in the Big East and NCAA tournaments.
Prediction: Syracuse’s zone proves too difficult for Indiana to crack, but Zeller gets enough put-backs to squeak out a win in a low scoring game.
9 WICHITA STATE VS. 13 LA SALLE
Time: 9:17 p.m.
KenPom: Wichita State over La Salle (62%)
Vegas: Wichita State -5
It is hard not to look at Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall and not think Wichita State is going to win this game. La Salle has played two teams in which their best players were wings, and have yet to play a team whose offense is based on what they generated in side.
When K-State went inside on them in the second half of their first round game La Salle had no answer. Why Bruce Weber took the foot off the gas is a question we’ll never have an answer to, but it is the reason why La Salle is still in this tournament. Wichita State should be able to exploit this matchup for a full 40 minutes.
Prediction: Wichita State punches their ticket to the Elite Eight tonight.