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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • March Madness: Sweet 16 Preview

  • This season of men's NCAA basketball has been nothing less than competitive. More than a handful of teams reached a No. 1 spot in the top 25, and in the ever popular NCAA Tournament it's starting to show after several teams, including Wichita State's win over No. 1 Gonzaga. Let's take a look at the remaining games in each region of an already busted bracket.
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  • East Region
  • Indiana vs. (4) Syracuse, 3/28 at 8:45 p.m.
    No doubt remains that Indiana's Cody Zeller is one of the most dominant big men in the NCAA, but that hasn't been the case so far in the big dance. Indiana won by 21 points over James Madison in the opening round, but Zeller contributed a small portion (11 of 83 total points) of the team's offense. It's been Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, who has 27 points in the tournament's first two rounds, that has shined instead. But the Syracuse offense has balance of its own. Three Orange players scored in double-figures in the latest 66-60 win over No. 12-seed California, led by forward C.J. Fair (18 points) Watch for Indiana to create a size mismatch with Zeller in the paint.
  • Miami vs. (3) Marquette, 3/28 at 6:15 p.m.
  • A pre-tournament favorite of many brackets, Miami has the length and athleticism to advance deep into the field of 68, but the Marquette Golden Eagles are no sleeper. Squeaking by Davidson in the first round and Butler in the second, Marquette defeated two quality teams with stifling defenses. Miami, however, will present an upgraded challenge with 6-foot-6 guard Rion Brown, who netted 21 points in the latest win over No. 7 Illinois. Combine Brown's outside athleticism with Kenny Kadji's interior toughness and the team may prove victorious.
    West Region
  • Ohio State vs. (6) Arizona, 3/28 at 6:47 p.m.
    The co-Big 10 champion Ohio State is hungry for more during the spring tourney. Buckeyes forward Deshaun Thomas has been a gamer all season long and has upped his 21 PPG average to better than 23 in the tournament. However, Ohio State squeaked by hot-shooting Iowa State in the second round, 78-75. Also consider that Arizona has defeated both Belmont and Harvard by a combined 40 points. Those teams may be inferior, but big wins can build confidence. Plus, Arizona's guard Mark Lyons scored a combined 50 points in the first two rounds. If he can hit the 45 percent mark from the floor against Ohio State's Aaron Craft, Arizona could bust brackets yet again.
  • Wichita State vs. (13) La Salle, 3/28 at 9:17 p.m.
    We've all heard the "Shocker" puns since Wichita State blasted No.8 Pittsburg 73-55, then defeated No. 1 Gonzaga 76-70, but as a team, it was less than electrifying. Wichita State is ranked 27th in the nation at 38.4 rebounds per game and posts an impressive 69 PPG. La Salle, however, is coming off a 76-74 win over SEC champion Ole Miss. La Salle ranks in the NCAA top 100 in three major categories, including 60th with 72 PPG and 70th with 14 assists per game. Both squads played quality team basketball in the first two rounds and should make for the weekend's most competitive contest. The edge goes to Wichita State because of sheer rebounding ability. Shockers forwards Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall will present a match-up problem for La Salle's big men, so long as foul trouble doesn't show through.
Page 2 of 2 - Midwest Region
  • Louisville vs. (12) Oregon, 3/29 at 6:15 p.m.
    Perhaps the hottest team in the NCAA, Louisville has cruised to 21- and 26-point victories in the first two rounds, though each win has come against lowly N. Carolina A&T and Colorado State. Oregon, however, is a bracket buster not many predicted to defeat both Oklahoma State and Saint Louis by a combined margin of 30 points. The Ducks are hot and have won five-straight since swatting Washington, 80-77 in OT on March 14. A match-up between Louisville's Russ Smith and Oregon's Damyean Dotson will be one to keep an eye on, but also be alert of Oregon's Arsalan Kazemim, who averages 16.5 rebounds per game in the tourney.
  • Duke vs. (3) Michigan State, 3/29 at 8:45 p.m.
    Without question the Big 10 conference has been all the hoopla this season. Seven of the league's teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament, including Michigan State. Its roster of talented athletes is led by forward Derrick Nix, who leads the squad in points (18), rebounds (11) and steals (3) per contest in the tourney. Put him against basketball powerhouse Duke and forward Miles Plumlee, who finished the season averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game, and the game should be a barn-burner. Toss in Duke guards Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon, who finished with a combined 38 points in the second round win over No. 7 Creighton, and the edge goes to the Blue Devils.
    South Region
  • Kansas vs. (4) Michigan, 3/29 at 6:37 p.m.
    Kansas forward Jeff Withey is a big reason for Kansas' success in 2012-13. In the NCAA Tournament, Withey has averaged 16.5 points per contest and added an average 11 rebounds and six blocks in the first two rounds. His dunk ability has the power to change a game's momentum, but a lengthy Michigan backcourt could wreak some havoc. Led by guard Tim Hardaway Jr.'s 17.5 points per bout, the Wolverines have cruised to huge victories over San Diego State (71-56) and Virginia Commonwealth (78-53). Having Trey Burke on Naismith watch might helpt the Wolverines as well. Watch for a match-up between Hardaway Jr. and Jayhawks' guard Travis Releford. The combination of size and athleticism should be at least entertaining.
  • Florida vs. (15) Florida Gulf Coast, 3/29 at 8:57 p.m.
    The cinderella story is one every college hoops fan looks toward each year, and in 2013 it's Florida Gulf Coast, who has overcome No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State to become the first No. 15 seed to dance in the Sweet 16. But because of sheer experience, the Florida Gators have a slight advantage over the high-flying Eagles. Florida's balanced attack is led by guard Mike Rosario who has upped his 12 PPG average to more than 16 in the tournament – and three other student-athletes average nearly 10 PPG or better. But a balanced attack is the method of both teams. If FGCU's Brett Comer can sustain his 12 assists per game average, watch out, Gators. And look for spectacular dunks, too.