Men's NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns

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Men’s NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns


#1 Louisville vs. #12 Oregon (Indianapolis, Indiana)

If Louisville was not the best team in the nation before, they probably are now. After an opening weekend that saw many top teams struggle or lose, the Cardinals came away from Lexington with a couple relatively easy victories. After beating 16 seed North Carolina A&T by a score of 79-48, Louisville cruised past Colorado State 82-56 on Saturday. In fact the Cardinals have now won a dozen games in a row since their early February epic five overtime loss at Notre Dame and only one of those, at Syracuse, was by less than ten points. Considering that also includes a relatively easy sweep through the Big East Tournament, this is a very hot Louisville team.

Oregon, another conference tournament champion, has built on that momentum and pulled off two “upsets” in San Jose. The Ducks looked very impressive against Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. The team scored an impressive 74 points against the Billikens. That was just the fourth time Saint Louis allowed 74 or more points all season and, like this occasion, the previous three all resulted in losses. That says a lot about where Oregon’s offense is right now. Damyean Dotson, E.J. Singler and Carlos Emory all had solid scoring tournaments, but the rebounding of Arsalan Kazemi may be the biggest reason the 12 seed is in the Sweet Sixteen.

And it will be in the rebounding department where the Ducks will have to be a major force again if they hope to send top seeded Louisville home. Neither of these teams are particularly productive when it comes to shooting the long ball. Creating a bit of space for the Ducks scoring options will be very important and that means Singler, Dotson and Dominic Artis will have to hit some long balls. Otherwise Oregon will be forced to take the ball into the paint and face the shot blocking presence of Gorgui Dieng. The way Russ Smith is scoring, Oregon will pretty much have to hope for a few timely stops here and there and attempt to outscore Louisville and that is not going to happen without stretching out the Louisville defense.


#3 Michigan State vs. #2 Duke (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Duke struggled a bit against Albany in their 2013 NCAA Tournament opener, but really turned up their game against a tough Creighton squad. It was Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee that dominated the scoring against Albany, but they got plenty of help from Rasheed Sulaimon against the Bluejays. Now we just seem to be waiting for Ryan Kelly and Quinn Cook to explode for 20+ points. Overall, the Blue Devils shot pretty well from the floor in Philadelphia, although it was their defense that won the day against Creighton. Now they will hope to keep that hot shooting going in Indianapolis.

Like Louisville and Duke, Michigan State made pretty easy work of their road to the Sweet Sixteen. They handled Valparaiso without much drama in the second round and impressively pulled away from Memphis in a 70-48 victory to reach the Sweet Sixteen. The frontcourt duo of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne has been very impressive after a season of some inconsistent play. Freshman Gary Harris tallied a career high 23 points against Memphis.

Duke and Michigan State should provide a very good Sweet Sixteen matchup. Both are playing very well right now and it is not like either team struggled against inferior competition along the way. In fact, both teams are coming off quality wins where it would have not been all that surprising if they had lost. The variety of scoring options on both sides will be tough to prepare for, but nobody prepares their teams better than Coach Tom Izzo of Michigan State and Coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. The Blue Devils are better shooters and generally take much, much better care of the ball than the Spartans. Turnovers could be huge in this game, but MSU could also neutralize that disadvantage by outrebounding Duke. If that is the case, it all comes down to whether or not Duke is hitting their shots. If the Blue Devils shoot 40 percent or so from beyond the arc, which is even below their season average, that may be enough to keep the Spartans defense off balance.


Midwest Regional Overview


West Regional Overview

West Region Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

South Region Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns


East Regional Overview

East Region Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns


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