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NCAA Sweet 16: Big 10 teams lead the way in East and West regions

Thursday night, there are two games each in the East and West regions of the NCAA tournament. In the East: Miami vs. Marquette and Indiana vs. Syracuse. In the West: Ohio State vs. Arizona and Wichita State vs. La Salle.

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The last time Syracuse played Indiana in the NCAA tournament, IU beat the Orange for the 1987 NCAA title in New Orleans.

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Ohio State vs. Arizona

Things are a little bit crazier out in the West region, after a few upsets along the way. Left in the aftermath are second-seeded Ohio State and sixth seed Arizona.

Ohio State, coached by Thad Matta, cruised past Iona in the second round. Then the Buckeyes needed a last-second three-point basket by point guard Aaron Craft to edge Iowa State.

Arizona had it a little easier in their first two games, defeating Belmont and then running past upstart Harvard in the third round. The Wildcats are led in scoring by Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, and Nick Johnson, all averaging double figures.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller, who was an assistant under Matta at Xavier, knows the players at Matta's current school aren't lacking in confidence when it comes to the NCAA tournament.

"This is Ohio State's fourth straight Sweet 16, and you think about some of the players on their team, they have incredible NCAA tournament experience, and they were in last year's Final Four. They're used to big arenas and the big stage, and that's one of the things that makes them such a great team," Miller said Monday.

Wichita State vs. La Salle

The West region nightcap will feature a pair of teams from conferences considered one step below the Big 10s and Pac-12s of the world. But Wichita State of the Missouri Valley and La Salle from the Atlantic 10 have played like prime-time performers so far.

The ninth-seeded Shockers defeated Pittsburgh in the second round, then knocked off West No. 1 seed Gonzaga last weekend.

Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall has been down this road before. He previously coached Winthrop to an upset of Notre Dame in the 2007 NCAA tournament. Marshall says that his team's hard work this season is paying off.

"The stars are aligned for the Shockers right now," Marshall said this week during a conference call.

13th-seeded La Salle, which won the 1954 NCAA championship, has won three tournament games so far. The Explorers began with a play-in victory over Boise State, then an upset of fourth seed Kansas State followed by a two-point win over Mississippi.

The four games Thursday evening will be televised by CBS and TBS, beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

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