Men's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament East Region Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns

East Region Sweet Sixteen Game Breakdowns
Once again, it took over 20 minutes for the North Carolina Tar Heels to put away their opponent. This time it was Providence, who hung around with the top-seeded Heels until about nine minutes remained in the game. At that point, the Friars’ two stars, Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, each had four fouls, and Bentil was disqualified with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. Providence didn’t have enough production outside of those two guys to compete for 40 minutes against North Carolina. Dunn and Bentil, despite the nine total personal fouls, combined for 50 of the team’s 66 points.
UNC tabbed small forward Justin Jackson as the player to guard Dunn for long stretches. It worked relatively well. The rest of the Tar Heel effort was backed up by the usual: domination on the boards, points in the paint and second-chance points, as well as balanced scoring and production.
The Indiana Hoosiers had to battle down to the final whistle to advance from their second-round game against Kentucky. As expected, each team’s guards were very busy. Indiana got 18 points out of Yogi Ferrell; Kentucky got a combined 43 points from Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray. The Hoosiers won with their secondary players. Big freshman Thomas Bryant poured in 19 and fellow forward Troy Williams added 13. No one on the UK frontline hit more than two field goals all game. The Wildcats turned into their own version of Providence: two stars with not enough help. Ulis and Murray too combined for nine personal fouls and seven turnovers.
In the Sweet Sixteen matchup between UNC and IU, it will be history reincarnated. The Heels have made the most Sweet Sixteen’s of all time; this is their 27th. Indiana isn’t too far behind. The Hoosiers will have their work cut out for them in attempting to control this Carolina frontline. It seems unlikely they will find the same advantage as in the previous round. Instead, it will come down to Ferrell and the Indiana three-point shooting to defeat North Carolina. UNC can be outclassed in that regard; it’s just usually not enough to overcome the Heels’ strengths along the interior.
#6 Notre Dame vs. #7 Wisconsin
It wasn’t easy for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but they advanced past Stephen F. Austin and into the Sweet Sixteen. Thanks to Zach Auguste’s 16 points and 15 rebounds, Notre Dame was able to do just enough. It controlled the paint and got a poor shooting day from SFA, who went just 8-of-27 from three. Thomas Walkup led all scorers with 21 but didn’t receive enough help from his teammates on the defensive end or from the outside. According to ESPN stats and information, the Lumberjacks entered having the second-best defensive efficiency in the country, allowing 0.90 points per possession, but Notre Dame laid it on them, scoring 1.25 points per possession in this game.
It was just as difficult for the Wisconsin Badgers to advance. They needed a game-tying three and then a buzzer beater from Bronson Koenig to take out the Xavier Musketeers. Wisconsin overcame a 2-of-11 shooting night from Nigel Hayes to advance. This Badgers team isn’t ready to admit it’s worse than last year’s version as it keeps winning in unconventional fashion. Despite only forcing eight turnovers, it won defensively by drawing an offensive foul with just seconds remaining and holding Xavier to 40.7 percent shooting from the floor overall; Trevon Bluiett shot just 3-of-11 from the field.
The six-seven matchup between ND and Wisconsin wasn’t quite what folks expected for the Sweet Sixteen in Philadelphia. Yet this could be as good of a game as the Round of 32 contests were. Wisconsin will try to remove Zach Auguste from the paint and force tough shots as it did so well against the Xavier forwards. Notre Dame has to feel confident in its offensive superiority, yet Bronson Koenig proved he may be the biggest outside threat for either team. The biggest edge either team has in this one is how the Irish normally shoot it compared to Wisconsin’s field-goal proclivity. Of course, throw season numbers out the window when a trip to the regional final is on the line.