Skip to content

Breaking Down the Sweet 16: The X-factor in each game

Mar 26, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT

spt-111115-plumlee

We’re down to the Sweet 16, when teams will have more time to study unfamiliar opponents and figure out what needs to be done in order to advance. With that in mind, here are the x-factors for each of the eight Sweet 16 games that will be played later this week.

Click here to browse through all of our Sweet 16 previews

EAST REGION

No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 2 Miami: Who makes the plays down the stretch?

Marquette may be the best team in the country when it comes to winning close games. Just ask Butler, who Marquette beat in the round of 32, or Davidson, who watched a team that can’t hit threes makes a flurry of them in the final minute. That said, Miami may have the most clutch player left in the tournament in Shane Larkin. This will be a close game. Who makes the big shots and the big plays down the stretch to win it?

No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 1 Indiana: Can Indiana play two point guards?

We already told you that the key matchup in this game is going to end up being how Victor Oladipo defends Michael Carter-Williams. It only makes sense that the Hoosiers would matchup that way. MCW is the most important player on the Syracuse roster, and Oladipo is one of the best defenders in the country. But if Oladipo is on MCW, than does that mean that one of Jordy Hulls or Yogi Ferrell is stuck on James Southerland? That can’t happen, which puts Indiana in a tough spot. Can they go 2-3 zone against the Orange to get both of their guards on the floor? Will Will Sheehey or Remy Abell see the majority of the minutes at the three, allowing Indiana to better matchup with the Syracuse size? If Indiana is forced to play bigger, does that hurt how they can execute against the Syracuse 2-3 zone?

WEST REGION

No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 2 Ohio State: Who has to adjust their lineup?

Arizona is as big as anyone in the country, especially at the times where they slide Solomon Hill down to the three and play two of their freshmen bigs together. Ohio State, currently the hottest team in the country, has made their late season run by going small, using Deshaun Thomas, Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross as their front court rotation. Will the Buckeyes be forced to play big, or will Arizona have to play small to matchup with Ohio State?

No. 13 La Salle vs. No. 9 Wichita State: Cleanthony Early

Early is the guy that solves Wichita State’s matchup problem. The Explorers play four guards at once, especially with Steve Zack still injured. Early is the most talented player on the Shockers, a 6-foot-8 forward with perimeter skills. He can defend on the perimeter as well, and while you might not want to stick him on Ramon Galloway, he should be able to hold his own against Sam Mills. If he does, he creates the matchup problem at the other end with his size.

MIDWEST REGION

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 1 Louisville: Oregon’s defensive execution

We already know about Oregon’s turnover issues against Louisville’s press, but if the Ducks want to avoid facing that press, they need to get stops. When Louisville scores, they smother you. When they don’t, they drop back and defend in the half court. The best press break is a good defense.

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Duke: Mason Plumlee vs. Derrick Nix

Part of what makes Duke’s offense so effective is that Mason Plumlee can overpower people in the post. If he gets doubled, he’s got four sharp-shooters and capable passers surrounding him that can make teams pay for leaving them open. Plumlee isn’t going to be overpowering Derrick Nix, however. If there is no double team coming, is Duke going to be able to get enough good looks offensively against Michigan State’s defense?

SOUTH REGION

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 1 Kansas: How does Kansas defend ball-screens?

The way that Iowa State almost pulled off a pair of wins over Kansas is that they were able to pull Jeff Withey away from the rim by engaging the guy that he was guarding in ball-screen actions. While the Cyclones used Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim in pick-and-pop actions, Mitch McGary is as good as anyone in the country at rolling hard to the rim off of a ball-screen. Trey Burke is terrific coming off of a ball-screen as well, and with the number of knockdown shooters that Michigan has on the perimeter, help defense becomes even more risky.

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 3 Florida: Dunk City

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the way that FGCU beat both San Diego State and Georgetown is that they hung around long enough that, when they went on their big second half run, it just ripped the will out of both teams. Will the Gators allow Dunk City to hang round long enough to do that?

Latest Posts
  1. Four-star 2016 recruit Juwan Durham commits to UConn

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    UConn landed its second four-star recruit in the Class of 2016.

  2. Four-star 2016 center sets four official visits

    Sep 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Jayce Johnson is focusing on five schools as he’s set four official visits.

  3. Rivalry games highlight Georgetown’s non-conference schedule

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    John Thompson III AP

    Georgetown has some very intriguing games on the non-conference slate.

  4. Report: Arkansas signee Ted Kapita signs professional contract

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Arkansas Razorbacks Anderson looks on as his team takes on the LSU Tigers during the first round of the SEC men's NCAA basketball tournament in New Orleans Reuters

    Arkansas won’t be getting a boost from the four-star big man.

  5. Pitt adds junior college guard for 2015-16 roster

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    Big East Basketball Tournament - Syracuse v Pittsburgh Getty Images

    Pitt bolsters its backcourt with the late addition of a junior college guard.

  6. Coastal Carolina moving to Sun Belt

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Conference realignment is still happening at the lower levels as Coastal Carolina makes a move to the Sun Belt.

  7. Summer mixtape of New York 2016 guard Shamorie Ponds (VIDEO)

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Shamorie Ponds is one of the best bucket-getting guards in the 2016 class.

  8. Malik Monk’s highlights from Nike Global Challenge (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT

    (USA Baketball) (USA Baketball)

    Malik Monk is rated No. 6 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.

  9. Iowa State adds three-star power forward Solomon Young

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:44 PM EDT

    Nike Nike

    It’s the second commit in as many nights for the Cyclones.

  10. Siena applies for waiver on behalf of Javion Ogunyemi

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Jimmy Patsos AP

    Javion Ogunyemi averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 2014-15.

  11. Syracuse, Georgetown to officially renew rivalry on December 5

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The two teams last met in the 2013 Big East Tournament

  12. Indiana dismisses Emmitt Holt

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Indiana dismissed the forward after his second alcohol-related incident.

  13. Bill Self remains “confident” Cheick Diallo will be eligible this season

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Cheick Diallo is still waiting to hear from the NCAA Eligibility Center.

  14. Five-star 2016 guard Frank Jackson set to announce his decision

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Frank Jackson will make his college decision on Tuesday.

  15. New mixtape of five-star 2016 guard Rawle Alkins (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp 2015 - Day One Getty Images

    Rawle Alkins is one of the best players to come out of New York in years.

  16. Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan makes another statement wavering on potential retirement

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    boryan Getty Images

    Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan seems to be taking things slowly when it comes to deciding his future.

  17. Five-star 2016 big man Marques Bolden is down to seven schools

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Texas native Marques Bolden is focusing on seven schools.