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2013 NCAA Tournament — Sweet 16 Preview

2013 NCAA Sweet 16 Preview
Joe Robbins, Jason Miller, Andy Lyons, Jamie Squire / Getty Images

The 2013 NCAA Tournament has narrowed its field to 16 teams. Eight games split between Thursday and Friday will determine which teams advance to the regional finals with the chance to play their way into the Final Four. Winners of Thursday’s games will play on Saturday, while winners of Friday’s contests will play on Sunday. Here’s a preview of the Sweet 16 games:

Thursday, March 28

East Regional

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

(3) Marquette vs. (2) Miami — 7:15 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Point guard Shane Larkin leads second-seeded Miami (29-6) against third-seeded Marquette (25-8) on Thursday in the first East Regional semifinal. Larkin, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer against Illinois on Sunday, averages a team-high 14.5 points and 4.6 assists per game. The Hurricanes will miss leading rebounder Reggie Johnson, who had minor knee surgery Tuesday. Marquette has out-rebounded its opponents by nearly five boards per game this season. The Golden Eagles offense relies rely heavily on guard Vander Blue, who averages 14.8 points per game to lead the team. Marquette is very deep, with 11 players seeing game time in each of the team’s narrow victories last week.

(4) Syracuse vs. (1) Indiana — 9:45 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Fourth-seeded Syracuse (28-9) employs a balanced offensive attack, with C.J. Fair, Brandon Triche, James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams all averaging double-figures in scoring. When they’re playing well and under control, the Orange are deep and talented enough to beat any team in the country. Syracuse’s range and height could challenge the man-to-man defense of Indiana (29-6). The top-seeded Hoosiers possess great offensive balance with two potential NBA lottery picks in guard Victor Oladipo and forward Cody Zeller. Indiana wants to break down the Orange’s zone defense with smart passes and accurate long-range shooting.

West Regional

Staples Center, Los Angeles

(6) Arizona vs. (2) Ohio State — 7:47 p.m. (ET) on TBS
Sixth-seeded Arizona (27-7) is led by talented guards Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson. The Wildcats’ frontcourt has been able to excel against teams like Belmont and Harvard, but may not be as effective against Ohio State (28-7). The Buckeyes are led on offense by Deshaun Thomas, who averages 19.7 points per game. Guard Aaron Craft is a defensive stalwart and clutch shooter, but he’ll need to be an offensive threat for Ohio State to keep pace with high-scoring Arizona.

(13) La Salle vs. (9) Wichita State — 10:17 p.m. (ET) on TBS
The Battle of the Cinderellas takes place in the final game on Thursday, as 13th-seeded La Salle (24-9) faces ninth-seeded Wichita State (28-8). The Explorers are led by the guard trio of Ramon Galloway, Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland, whose floater in the waning seconds beat Ole Miss on Sunday. Forward Jerrell Wright is La Salle’s only sizable player who logs significant game time, which could be an issue against Wichita State. Forward Cleanthony Early is the Shockers best player, averaging 13.9 points per game. He and Carl Hall could dominate the offensive glass. Wichita State must keep La Salle’s shooting percentage low or risk losing control of the tempo of the game.

Friday, March 29

Midwest Regional

Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)

(12) Oregon vs. (1) Louisville — 7:15 p.m. on CBS
Top-seeded Louisville (31-5) has looked every bit like the odds-on favorite it is thus far in the tournament. Cardinals guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva are a formidable backcourt duo, but they can have inconsistent shooting performances. Center Gorgui Dieng provides defense a rebounding. Twelfth-seeded Oregon (28-8) isn’t supposed to be in the Sweet 16, but they are better than most #12 seeds. Guards Dominic Artis and Johnathan Loyd can attack a defense, but it’s Damyean Dotson and E.J. Singler who create the most offense for the Ducks. If Oregon can withstand Louisville’s press and create turnovers, they can hang with the Cardinals.

(3) Michigan State vs. (2) Duke — 9:45 p.m. on CBS
Two longtime college basketball powers face each other in a game that could just as easily have been a regional final. Third-seeded Michigan State (27-8) is led by guards Keith Appling and Gary Harris. Appling will play despite leaving Saturday’s win over Memphis with an injured shoulder. Spartans’ center Derrick Nix could be a key player against the Blue Devils’ experienced front court. Second-seeded Duke (29-5) hopes to create turnovers on the defensive end. Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon each can score from outside, which could extend the Michigan State defense further than it wants to go.

South Regional

Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)

(4) Michigan vs. (1) Kansas — 7:37 p.m. on TBS
The road to the Final Four in Atlanta isn’t getting easier for top-seeded Kansas (31-5). Center Jeff Withey is the Jayhawks’ key player. His defensive presence and low post scoring are paramount to the Kansas game plan. Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford must help Withey add to the point total. Fourth-seeded Michigan (28-7) may opt to send guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. into the lane to lure Withey into foul trouble. The Wolverines may also look to push the Jayhawks shooters away from their preferred sweet spots.

(15) Florida Gulf Coast vs. (3) Florida — 9:57 p.m. on TBS
Led by guard Mike Rosario and forward Erik Murphy, third-seeded Florida (28-7) is a well-coached, highly skilled team that shoots and defends very well. Yet, the Gators are not the prime storyline of this game because their opponent is a historic underdog. As the first 15th-seed in NCAA history to make the Sweet 16, Florida Gulf Coast (26-10) has become the media darling of the tournament. Eagles’ point guard Brett Comer is the key to the FGCU attack. He had 24 assists and 22 points combined in the upset wins over Georgetown and San Diego State. If the Gators can chomp down on Comer’s productivity, they could send Cinderella home from the dance.

Next: Find Out Who Correctly Picked FGCU To Advance

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