NCAA Tournament: Previewing Day Two of the Sweet Sixteen
The Sweet Sixteen continues tonight with a second slate of games. Here’s preview of the four matchups on schedule tonight.
7:15pm – CBS – #12 Oregon vs. #1 Louisville
On Selection Sunday, Oregon was a team that many felt got a much lower seed than they deserved after winning the Pac-12 tournament. The Ducks entered the Big Dance as a 12-seed, while the UCLA squad they beat in the conference championship game received a 6-seed. A week later, the Ducks are in the Sweet Sixteen for only the fourth time in program history and Ben Howland is no longer the Bruins head coach.
Regardless of what seed Oregon should have received from the selection committee, they face a tough test against the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Rick Pitino and his Cardinals are in a great position to make it to the Final Four for a second straight year. Louisville hasn’t lost since February 9th (in 5 overtimes against Notre Dame) and won their two games last weekend by a combined 57-point margin.
7:37pm – TBS – #4 Michigan vs. #1 Kansas
Michigan was a difficult team to pick on a bracket before the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines have one of the most talented lineups in the country with as many as four players who could be first round NBA Draft picks, but also lack the postseason experience that a veteran team like Kansas has.
However, the Jayhawks often played like an inexperienced team during their first slate of games in the NCAA Tournament. They almost didn’t make it past Western Kentucky and North Carolina, despite playing with an essential home court advantage in Kansas City, Missouri. Michigan played like an experienced team last week, easily winning both of their games by a combined 40 point margin.
9:45pm – CBS – #3 Michigan State vs. #2 Duke
This showdown between the Spartans and Blue Devils could be the most competitive of the evening, in a clash of styles between a strong defensive squad from the Big Ten and a great offensive team from the ACC. History doesn’t favor Tom Izzo in this matchup, who is only 2-7 all-time against Mike Krzyzewski, but past results wont matter when they take the court in Indianapolis.
Both teams have 6-4 freshman guards that are emerging as stars in the backcourt. Gary Harris was Michigan State’s second leading scorer in the regular season and led the Spartans in three-point shooting percentage. Rasheed Sulaimon hasn’t had to carry Duke as much this season, sharing the backcourt with fifth year senior Seth Curry, but the first year Blue Devil will be counted on for scoring help in a game where points will come at a premium.
Another key matchup will be in the frontcourt with Duke’s skilled offensive big men Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly facing the strong defensive pairing of Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix.
9:57pm – TBS – #15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. #3 Florida
Florida Gulf Coast’s success in becoming the first 15-seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen has made Andy Enfield’s squad the talk of the tournament. The Eagles are only in their sixth season as a Division 1 program and have captured the attention of the nation with their exciting offensive play.
As much as Sherwood Brown and FGCU are dominating the headlines at the moment, “Dunk City” has a difficult task ahead against a far more established program for the Sunshine State. The Gators have advanced to the previous two Elite Eights and are being picked by many to return for a third straight season. Florida is favored to win this game by 11.5 points, which is the largest point spread among the eight matchups in this year’s Sweet Sixteen.