#MarchMadness: Your Guide to the Sweet 16


Thursday’s games:

Marquette (3) -vs- Miami (2)

Miami wins: if they continue dropping three-pointers. Keep in mind that the Hurricanes’ Trey McKinney-Jones could still catch on fire, with a regular-season average of 39 percent on his threes. Although they might not win- if Shane Larkin, son of 2012 Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, doesn’t deliver. The 5’11″ guard is a team leader, along with fellow guard (and all-ACC defensive teammate) Durand Scott. Scott also needs to show why he was named defensive player of the year.

Marquette wins: if “Automatic” Davante Gardner can step up his production. So far this season, he’s shown that he can make the free-throws- Gardner hits a remarkable 84 percent from the line. But he needs to make better use of his time on the floor for the Golden Eagles to move ahead.  Throughout this tournament, Marquette has been able to take advantage of the costly mistakes of other teams. Star player Vander Blue improves their chances, of course, but could falter against a strong Hurricanes team.

Trivia: Second-year Miami coach Jim Larranaga will be returning to the site of one of his greatest victories.  Larranaga won two games in 2006 at the Verizon Center “when his 11th-seeded George Mason team beat Wichita State then stunned Connecticut to complete one of the more memorable runs to the Final Four in tournament history.” He coached 14 seasons at GMU. | Marquette’s starting center, Chris Otule, can’t see out of his left eye because of glaucoma. He had surgery shortly after birth to insert a glass eye. He can only see out of his right eye.

Syracuse (4) -vs- Indiana (1)

Indiana wins: Syracuse brings a 2-3 zone, and Tom Crean knows how to attack it well, having coached against it during his Big East tenure at Marquette. Indiana is 3-1 when Cody Zeller records a Double-Double.

Syracuse wins: In the last six games, their only bad half of basketball was the second half of the Big East Final against Louisville, which was the fourth game in four days for the Orange. Their length and quickness can cause turnovers in the zone, which will in turn lead to points in the transition game.

Trivia: Indiana’s Yogi Farrell has 146 assists, second in program history for a freshman, trailing Isiah Thomas who had 159 in 1979-80. Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim became only the third coach to record 900 wins, joining Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski as the only coaches to accomplish that feat.

Arizona (6) -vs- Ohio State (2)

Ohio State wins: if the Buckeyes can take advantage of Arizona’s Mark Lyons and his poor accuracy on three-pointers (28.6 percent). In the last 10 games, Lyons scored 15.8 points per game.  The problem: the Wildcats are 13-1 when Lyons scores 17 or more points and 14-6 when he scores below that level.

Arizona wins: if the Wildcats’ Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley continue dominating on rebounding and staying out of foul trouble. They’ve averaged together 15.5 points, 15.5 rebounds and seven fouls per game. The team depends on the good looks these two get under the hoop, and it could be the difference they need.

Trivia: Ohio State and Arizona coaches Thad Matta and Sean Miller are no strangers. They coached  as assistants on Herb Sendek’s staff at Miami (Ohio) in 1994-95.

La Salle (13) -vs- Wichita State (9)

Wichita State wins: The Shockers are tough on defense and can spread it around on offense. Cleanthony Early and Malcolm Armstead have been coming up big for Wichita State. Under Coach Gregg Marshall, Wichita State has been voted the top team on defense in the Missouri Valley Conference the last three years.

La Salle wins: The Explorers go with a four-guard lineup along with forward Jerrell Wright. La Salle is 12-4 when Ramon Galloway leads the team in scoring, and 12-5 when he does not.

Trivia: Los Angeles Laker star Kobe Bryant’s father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played for La Salle. The 1981 Wichita State team had fielded four future NBA players in Xavier McDaniel, Cliff Levingston, Antoine Carr, and Greg Dreiling.

H/T Bleacher Report and Wikipedia.


 Tonight’s games:

Oregon (12) -vs- Louisville (1)

Louisville wins: if they keep playing like Louisville. As Dana O”Neill at ESPN.com puts it: “Since a five-overtime loss to Notre Dame, UL is beating teams by an average of 21 points per game. No one has gotten closer than 12 points.”

Oregon wins: Dana Altman, the coach of the Ducks, puts it well: “We had two games in the NCAA tournament where we turned it over 18 times each night. We’ve got to figure out what the number is that we can live with. I’m hoping 15, 16 is a number we can hold it to.” If they can figure it out, they’ll hold on against arguably the best team in the nation.

Trivia: Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson and New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch are both former UL Cardinals. John Ssebaana Kizito, the mayor of Kampala, Uganda, is a former Duck.

Florida Gulf Coast (15) -vs- Florida (3)

FGCU wins: The Eagles are 23-10 this season — including the NCAA Tournament — when they post a starting lineup of Sherwood Brown, Bernard Thompson, Brett Comer, Chase Fieler, and Eric McKnight. FGCU is 15-2 when throwing down five or more dunks in a game, and they have been held without a dunk in just two games. Under Head Coach Andy Enfield, the Eagles had won 41 games the past two seasons as opposed to only 39 games the previous four seasons under Dave Balza.

Florida wins: The Gators are 25-1 under Billy Donovan against current members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Florida has outscored their opponents by an average of 18.2 points and ranks second in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 53.8 points per game.

Trivia: FGCU Coach Andy Enfield holds the NCAA record for free throws at 92.5% efficiency when he played for Johns Hopkins. Florida is 15-2 when Patric Young grabs at least 7 rebounds.

Michigan (4) -vs- Kansas (1)

Kansas wins: if freshman Ben McLemore can stop his disappearing act when it counts. ESPN.com’s Jason King notes: “The 6-foot-4 guard is averaging just seven points in his past four games while shooting 30.8 percent from the field. Those figures are well below his season averages of 15.8 points on 49.4 percent shooting.” Foul Watch: Jeff Withey could swing the game away from the Jayhawks, if he can’t stay out of trouble. His team is 23-1 in games in which he’s committed two or fewer fouls.

Michigan wins:  Pay attention to Trey Burke. Before the Wolverines’ first round game against South Dakota State, Burke had only failed to score 15 points in a game three times all season. But even his feats might not be enough in the long-run, with Kansas (and Florida) boasting big men on their squads. How will Burke  match-up against a Syracuse 2-3 zone?

Trivia: The buzz over Trey Burke’s can’t be overstated. He’s a finalist for the 2013 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year, a short-list which includes only Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Georgetown’s Otto Porter. KU forward Thomas Robinson has rebounded from a personal tragedy during his sophomore season in 2011: his mother died of a heart attack at age 42, after his grandmother and grandfather had just passed away.

Michigan State (3) -vs- Duke (2)

Duke wins:  Coach Mike Krzyzewski has his players focused on and hungry for the national championship every year; this year is no different. Krzyzewski’s also looking for a measure of revenge against Tom Izzo, who led Michigan State to a victory over Duke in the Sweet 16 back in 2005. Ryan Kelly’s play adds versatility to the Blue Devils’ lineup.

Michigan State wins: Every player who has attended Michigan State and stayed four years under Coach Tom Izzo has played in at least one Final Four. Adreian Payne is coming into his own and becoming a major force after a somewhat slow start to his career.

Trivia: Coach K leads all active coaches with 11 Final Fours, and is only one of three coaches in NCAA history to win at least four national championships, with two of those coming in Indianapolis. Izzo owns a school-record 439 career wins in 18 seasons at Michigan State.

Sources: USA TODAY, Wikipedia, Bleacher Report and Fort Myers (Florida) News-Press


Here’s the complete Sweet 16 schedule for today and tomorrow, including where you can watch the games and the point spreads from Las Vegas:


Marquette vs. Miami (-5.5), 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS

Arizona vs. Ohio State (-4), 7:47 p.m. ET, TBS

Syracuse vs. Indiana (-5.5), 9:45 p.m. ET, CBS

La Salle vs. Wichita State (-4), 10:17 p.m. ET, TBS


Oregon vs. Louisville (-10), 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS

Michigan vs. Kansas (-2), 7:37 p.m. ET, TBS

Michigan State vs. Duke (-2), 9:45 p.m.  ET, CBS

Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida (-13), 10:07 p.m. ET, TBS

Rick Bulow contributed to this article.