All eyes in Gainesville are on the Florida-Florida Gulf Coast battle up in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament but there are other match ups Friday night as well….
Midwest Region: (1) Louisville v.s. (12) Oregon, 7:15 p.m.
The Louisville Cardinals have looked like the number one overall seed in the tournament. In its two games so far in the NCAA Tournament, they beat North Carolina A&T and Colorado State by an average of 28.5 points. Louisville’s press has been outstanding so far. In those two games combined, they forced 47 turnovers.
Oregon has actually been practicing with an extra player on the floor to give some insight on how to attack Louisville’s press.
But if Oregon wants to hang with Coach Rick Pitino’s squad they need to be able to stop turning the ball over in game situations. In its two games, they have turned it over 36 times, which is three over their average.
Lousiville head coach Rick Pitino, however, thinks the Ducks are a really strong unit right now.
If Oregon were to pull off an upset, they would advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007, when the Gators beat the Ducks to advance to the Final Four.
South Region: (1) Kansas v.s. (4) Michigan, 7:37 p.m.
The Wolverines are playing in its first Sweet 16 game since 1994, but that isn’t stopping them from playing its best basketball as of late. Michigan defeated South Dakota State Univesity and Virginia Commonwealth by an average by 20 points.
The most impressive stat from the box score is the lack of turnovers by Michigan. The Wolverines lead the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, and that could play a factor in the outcome of Friday’s game.
Kansas head coach Bill Self talks about Michigan’s lack of turnovers and how it could be the difference come game time.
The Jayhawks, on the other hand, have struggled as of late. Besides the second half run against North Carolina, Kansas has not looked like a number one seed. They squeaked out a win against 16 seed Western Kentucky and a 12-point victory over the Tarheels.
A reason for their lackluster play could be because projected top five pick Ben McLemore has struggled. Against North Carolina, the freshman guard went o for 9 from the field and only scored two points. Over his last four games, he has only averaged seven points per game.
McLemore will probably need to step up in order for Kansas to have the edge over Trey Burke and the Wolverines.
Midwest Region: (2) Duke v.s. (3) Michigan State
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo have gone to 17 Final Fours combined.
The last time Krzyzewski squared off against Izzo, the Blue Devils gave him a 74-69 win that broke Bob Knight’s career record for wins.
These teams are defensive-oriented and rely on their big men to score. Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly for Duke and Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix for Michigan State.
Coach K spoke about the similarities between his squad and Izzo’s unit.
However, Kelly has been silent in his two games in the tournament. He needs to be able to score to stretch the defense in order for Plumlee to have some room to work.
For Michigan State to win, they need to be effective on the boards. Duke ranks 17th in field goal percentage, so the Spartans need to corral the boards to not give any second-chance opportunities to the Blue Devils.