Sweet 16 Previews

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET 16 GAME PREVIEWS

LET'S CHECK OUT TONIGHT'S TILTS WITH #1 SEEDS SYRACUSE (EAST) AND MICHIGAN STATE (WEST) BOTH TAKING CENTER STAGE

By Jim Hurley:

Hey, don't let the TV talking heads fool you - this year's NCAA Tournament hasn't exactly been ruled by upsets although we do still have three double-digit seeds remaining here at Sweet 16 time (and all of'em are playing on the Friday night card).

The fact of the matter is all four #1 seeds are still here along with a pair of #2 seeds, a couple of #3 seeds and there are three #4 seeds still standing and so that means 11 of the top 16 seeded teams in this year's tourney have made it to these regional semifinals (that's nearly 69 percent) and that is pretty standard fare most years.

All told the NCAA Tournament Betting Favorites are a collective 25-24-2 with one pick'em affair and so $100 per-play wagers on the chalk sides thus far would have cost you $140 while wagering on all of the dogs would have lost you $350 - just another reason why you ought to let Jim Hurley get you all the tourney winners!

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT - SWEET 16 / THURSDAY PREVIEWS

NCAA TOURNAMENT EAST REGIONAL SEMIFINALS - TD Garden - Boston, MA

#4 WISCONSIN (26-9) vs. #1 SYRACUSE (33-2) - 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Here's the first of three Big East vs. Big 10 showdowns on this Sweet 16 night and don't you just know this one's gonna be like a late-night alley fight?

No doubt the Wisky Badgers will try to work the ball inside against this Fab Melo-less Syracuse front line (you saw Kansas State do that a lot in last weekend's Round of 32 loss to the Orange) and so Bo Ryan's Big 10 guys will be patient while attempting to get high-percentage shots but Wisconsin also needs senior point guard Jordan Taylor to make smart decisions and know when to kick it outside as Wisconsin did drain 10 triples in its Round of 32 win against Vanderbilt.

If there is an X-factor here for Jim Boeheim's crew it's get key reserve James Southerland rockin' from the floor early because he's a real energizer when hitting those 15-footers - and can PG Scoop Jardine play more like the guy we saw in the second half against K-State and less like the guy who's been erratic in recent games?

WISCONSIN'S FIRST TWO NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES THIS YEAR

DATE

FAVORITE

SPREAD

DOG

RESULT

(at Albuquerque)

3-15

Wisconsin

- 8.5

Montana

Wisconsin 73-49

3-17

Wisconsin

Pick'Em

Vanderbilt

Wisconsin 60-57

SYRACUSE'S FIRST TWO NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES THIS YEAR

DATE

FAVORITE

SPREAD

DOG

RESULT

(at Pittsburgh)

3-15

Syracuse

- 15.5

UNC-Asheville

Syracuse 72-65

3-17

Syracuse

- 5.5

Kansas State

Syracuse 75-59

#6 CINCINNATI (26-10) vs. #2 OHIO STATE (29-7) - approximately 9:45 p.m. ET, CBS
The Battle of Ohio figures to be won by the team that gets to play at its proper pace - heck, the rough-and-tumble Cincy Bearcats would be happy to slug it out in the 50s here while Thad Matta's Buckeyes wish for a speedier tempo and let's see if Ohio State's PG Aaron Craft winds up a "double-double" guy again.

The favored Buckeyes have plenty of ammo in F/C Jared Sullinger and silky smooth William Buford but we've seen this Big 10 crew shoot poorly from beyond the arc in this tourney so far (see 14-of-38 treys combined against Loyola-Md. and Gonzaga) and there is still reason to wonder if Ohio State's bench can win in a war of attrition type affair.

One major key for Mick Cronin's B-Cats: Get scoring star Sean Kilpatrick into the offensive swing of things sooner rather than later (Kilpatrick should attempt somewhere between 15-to-20 shots here).

CINCINNATI'S FIRST TWO NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES THIS YEAR

DATE

FAVORITE

SPREAD

DOG

RESULT

(at Nashville)

3-16

Cincinnati

- 3

Texas

Cincinnati 65-59

3-18

Florida State

- 3

Cincinnati

Cincinnati 62-56

OHIO STATE'S FIRST TWO NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES THIS YEAR

DATE

FAVORITE

SPREAD

DOG

RESULT

(at Pittsburgh)

3-15

Ohio State

- 17.5

Loyola-Md.

Ohio State 78-59

3-17

Ohio State

- 7.5

Gonzaga

Ohio State 73-66

NCAA TOURNAMENT WEST REGIONAL SEMIFINALS - US Airways Center - Phoenix, AZ

#4 LOUISVILLE (28-9) vs. #1 MICHIGAN STATE (29-7) - 7:45 p.m. ET, TBS
Getting tired of this Big East versus Big 10 theme yet ... good! Here's a case where the West's top-seeded Michigan State Spartans may not need an absolute stat-sheet stuffing game from senior F Draymond Green who followed up his Round of 64 triple-double against Loyola-Maryland with 16 points, 13 boards and 6 "dimes" in that close encounter win against Saint Louis last Sunday afternoon but they sure do need to put the hammer down on'Ville point guard Peyton Siva who dished off for a big-time hoop late in the win against New Mexico last Saturday night and he could be a touch too fast here for opposite number PG Keith Appling.

Much is being made - of course - of this coaching showdown between Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Louisville's Rick Pitino but might this be a case where the U of L Cardinals have the better defense (say what!) and could squeeze down Sparty during the shot clock a few times here - watch for State to possibly have to hurl up some desperation chucks here.

LOUISVILLE'S FIRST TWO NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES THIS YEAR

DATE

FAVORITE

SPREAD

DOG

RESULT

(at Portland)

3-15

Louisville

- 5.5

Davidson

Louisville 69-62

3-17

Louisville

- 2

New Mexico

Louisville 59-56

MICHIGAN STATE'S FIRST TWO NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES THIS YEAR

DATE

FAVORITE

SPREAD

DOG

RESULT

(at Columbus)

3-15

Michigan State

- 18.5

LIU

Michigan State 89-67

3-17

Michigan State

- 7.5

Saint Louis

Michigan State 65-61

#7 FLORIDA (25-10) vs. #3 MARQUETTE (27-7) - approximately 10:15 p.m. ET, TBS
As we stated earlier this week in a Jim Sez column, you could make the case that Florida and Marquette have played better than anyone else in this tourney thus far (we hear the folks from Ohio University begging to differ, right?) but now who plays their "A game" here and does the extra "prep day" help the Big East team that beat Murray State last Saturday while Florida clobbered Norfolk State last Sunday?

Marquette - a slight wagering fav at press time - may have to be forced into a "pick your poison" approach on defense as Florida's multiple perimeter shooters can be too much to handle and so expect one of Buzz Williams' game strategies here for the Golden Eagles is to pick up Gator guards at half court and try to disrupt their flow. No doubt that Florida guard Kenny Boynton can be a flash to the hoop and expect a few instances where Marquette's Jaw Crowder comes "out of nowhere" to challenge his shots.

If Boynton can kick it out to three-point specialist F Erik Murphy, it could be lights out for the gang from Milwaukee.

On the flip side, Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom won't hesitate to hurl up a bunch of triples here - might this wind up being a good old-fashioned Western shootout?

Keep in mind the more physical the game, the more it helps Marquette. Florida coach Billy Donovan is counting on a "quick whistle".

FLORIDA'S FIRST TWO NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES THIS YEAR

DATE

FAVORITE

SPREAD

DOG

RESULT

(at Omaha)

3-16

Florida

- 3

Virginia

Florida 71-45

3-18

Florida

- 14

Norfolk State

Florida 84-50

MARQUETTE'S FIRST TWO NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES THIS YEAR

DATE

FAVORITE

SPREAD

DOG

RESULT

(at Louisville)

3-15

Marquette

- 5.5

BYU

Marquette 88-68

3-17

Marquette

- 5.5

Murray State

Marquette 62-53

NOTE: Get Friday's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Game Previews - that's Baylor-Xavier and Indiana-Kentucky (South) along with Ohio-North Carolina and N.C. State-Kansas (Midwest) - in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.

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