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. Former Nevada forward Cole Huff free to transfer to non-Mountain West schools in southern California

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT

    huff AP

    The number of schools that former Nevada forward Cole Huff is prohibited from transferring to has been cut down to 38 following an appeals hearing Thursday.

  2. Cincinnati, Creighton among eight teams in inaugural Emerald Coast Classic

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:07 PM EDT

    cronin AP

    NCAA tournament participants Cincinnati, Creighton and North Carolina Central part of eight-team field in inaugural Emerald Coast Classic.

  3. Order of protection filed against former Missouri F Zach Price thrown out

    Apr 17, 2014, 8:16 PM EDT

    Missouri_Tigers

    The order of protection filed against former Missouri forward Zach Price by Earnest Ross was thrown out Thursday.

  4. Green Bay, head coach Brian Wardle agree to new five-year contract

    Apr 17, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

    wardle AP

    After leading Green Bay to a 24-win season, head coach Brian Wardle’s been rewarded with a new five-year contract.

  5. Gonzaga adds forward Domantas Sabonis to solid 2014 recruiting haul

    Apr 17, 2014, 5:56 PM EDT

    Mark Few AP

    Gonzaga’s added a fourth member to its 2014 recruiting class, with the son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis making his pledge to join the program.

  6. Houston duo still looking to be released from respective scholarships

    Apr 17, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT

    TaShawn Thomas AP

    Former Houston players Danuel House and TaShawn Thomas met with an appeals committee Thursday in hopes of getting released from their respective scholarships.

  7. Report: Rodney Hood to enter the NBA Draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Rodney Hood Getty Images

    Rodney Hood is following Jabari Parker to the league.

  8. Reports: Missouri’s Frank Haith agrees to take the Tulsa job

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    haith AP

    Is Frank Haith getting out of Missouri before they kick him out?

  9. Kentucky’s James Young to enter the NBA Draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Kentucky is still waiting to hear from four players on their NBA decision.

  10. Report: Jordan Adams to return to UCLA

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

    Jordan Adams

    UCLA will be a contender in the Pac-12 next season with Jordan Adams returning to school.

  11. Are the Harrison twins leaning towards returning to school?

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    With less than stellar reviews from NBA folks, might the Harrisons be leaning towards a return to Lexington?

  12. Jabari Parker is headed to the NBA

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Parker will be a top three pick in the draft.

  13. Former Murray State guard Zay Jackson headed to Southeastern Louisiana

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Jacksons path from Murray State to Southeastern Louisiana is wild.

  14. Ahmed Hill released from his National Letter of Intent to Marquette

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Hill wrote a nice note to Marquette fans to thank them.

  15. #UMassUnited: Thousands show to support Derrick Gordon during Westboro Baptist Church protest

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Photo via MassLive.com Photo via MassLive.com

    Five protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at UMass on Wednesday. 1,500 students rallied in response.

  16. Michigan guard Caris LeVert to return for junior season

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT

    levert Getty Images

    Caris LeVert reiterated his decision to return to Michigan for his junior year at the team’s postseason banquet Wednesday.

  17. Report: New Mexico State’s Sim Bhullar to enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT

    Sim Bhullar, Barndon Ashley AP

    According to a report, New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar will forego his final two seasons of eligibility to turn pro.

  18. USC guard Byron Wesley to transfer for final season of eligibility

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

    Byron Wesley, Jarett Upchurch AP

    After leading USC in scoring last season, Byron Wesley announced that he’ll be transferring after graduating this summer.

  19. Arizona State guard Jahii Carson officially entering NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    carson AP

    Arizona State’s Jahii Carson made official the news that’s been known since October: he’ll be entering the 2014 NBA Draft.

  20. Former Northwestern wing Kale Abrahamson transferring to Drake

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:32 PM EDT

    Kale Abrahamson AP

    Former Northwestern guard/forward Kale Abrahamson will finish out his career in his home state.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'