NCAA Tournament: 16 remain, with some 'Sweet' matchups
A selective preview of some of the more intriguing matchups in the so-called 'Sweet 16' - the round of sixteen remaining teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament - taking place on Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23.
Wisconsin versus Syracuse: Thursday, 7:15 p.m. Eastern, East Region, Boston.Skip to next paragraph
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Syracuse has been nothing if not resilient throughout this season. Jim Boeheim’s Orangemen have endured both scandals and injuries to achieve thirty wins and defy predictions that they’d be in the Sweet 16 at all. Even without standout Fab Melo, Syracuse has achieved a balanced offensive attack anchored by point guard Scoop Jardine. Jardine, originally from South Philadelphia, came to Syracuse with exceptional talent, but also a work ethic needing considerable improvement. Boeheim has praised Jardine’s leadership and how very hard he’s worked this year to assume his leadership position with the team. He’s a major reason why Syracuse, despite the dour predictions at the beginning of the NCAA tournament, has righted itself after a scare in their opening East regional game against UNC Asheville.
Bo Ryan’s fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers have had a less linear path to the tournament. They’re currently ranked 23rd nationally, with a 7-7 record against the RPI top 50 teams. And last week, they just barely eked past a talented Vanderbilt squad that pushed them the entire forty minutes. But Wisconsin’s a strong outside shooting team that works the post equally hard. Syracuse will likely try and diffuse the Badgers’ inside game with their 2-3 zone which has been very effective this year; but against a Wisconsin team that’s patient with the ball and can hit threes, this will be a very close game. The edge should go to No. 1 seed Syracuse.
Indiana versus Kentucky: Friday, 9:45 p.m. Eastern, South Region, Atlanta.
This matchup features another four versus one seed matchup. The Kentucky Wildcats have everything going for them. They’re healthy, they have arguably one of the best big men to appear in the NCAA in a generation in center Anthony Davis, and are exceedingly well-coached by John Calipari, who’s won 77% of games in his career, and is the only coach in NCAA history to take three one-seeded programs to the NCAA tournament (the others being the University of Massachusetts and Memphis).