Mar 25, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
On Thursday evening, the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 play will begin, meaning we’ll be four days away from finding out who the four teams are that will be playing for the national title in Atlanta. And in case you spent the past four days living under a rock or on a really, really long flight that didn’t have WiFi, here’s what you missed in the East Region.
Click here to browse through all of our Sweet 16 previews:
WHERE: Verizon Center, Washington DC
WHAT HAPPENED?: Well, chalk happened. The East Region ended up being the only region where all of the top four seeds advanced to the Sweet 16. It wasn’t without excitement, however. No. 1 Indiana nearly got picked off by No. 9 Temple and Khalif Wyatt’s 31 points. No. 2 Miami needed a ridiculous step-back three from Shane Larkin and a questionable out of bounds call to get past No. 7 Illinois. No. 3 Marquette not only needed Butler Magic to fail in the round of 32, they pulled their own version of Marquette Magic to get past Davidson in the opening round. Believe it or not, No. 4 seed Syracuse had the easiest path to the DC, beating No. 13 Montana and No. 12 Cal in the first two rounds.
FAVORITE: Indiana Hoosiers
At this point, it has to be the Indiana Hoosiers, as they spent much of the season as the No. 1 team in the country, won the brutal Big Ten outright and have two all-americans on their roster. It also just so happens that Indiana matches up well with all three teams in the region. That said, they matched up well with Temple, and the Owls were a possession or two away from pulling off the upset.
KEY PLAYER: Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Syracuse’s most important player is 6-foot-6 point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Miami’s most important player is point guard Shane Larkin. Marquette’s most important player is off-guard Vander Blue. Victor Oladipo is arguably the best on-ball defender in the country. He’ll draw the key matchup in every game.
WHY AN UNDERDOG WILL WIN: I’m not even sure there is an underdog in this region, to be honest with you. But if there is, it is probably No. 4 seed Syracuse. For them to win, they are going to need their zone to be creating turnovers and getting out on shooters, and they are going to need Carter-Williams to play the way he did back in December, not the way he did in February. Throw in some consistent shooting from James Southerland and Brandon Triche, and the Orange may have a chance.
No. 1 INDIANA HOOSIERS
How they got here: Beat No. 16 James Madison 83-62 and No. 9 Temple 58-52.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 4 Syracuse, 9:45 p.m. ET CBS
No. 2 MIAMI HURRICANES
How they got here: Beat No. 15 Pacific 78-49 and No. 7 Illinois 63-59.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2000
Next up: No. 3 Marquette, 7:15 p.m. ET CBS
No. 3 MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES
How they got here: Beat No. 14 Davidson 59-58 and No. 6 Butler 74-72.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 2 Miami, 7:15 p.m. ET CBS
No. 4 SYRACUSE ORANGE
How they got here: Beat No. 13 Montana 81-34 and No. 12 Cal 66-60.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 1 Indiana, 9:45 p.m. ET CBS
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
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