Mar 28, 2013, 9:29 AM EDT
Favorite: Ohio State
No team in the country has played better than the Buckeyes over the last month and a half of the season. Since getting drubbed by 22 points at Wisconsin on February 17th, Ohio State has won 10 straight games, which includes wins over Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State twice, Minnesota and Illinois. The change has come with a move to playing a smaller lineup. Instead of using Evan Ravenel or Amir Williams, Thad Matta has started playing Deshaun Thomas, Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross along the front line, sometimes all three of them together. It creates matchup problems for opponents, which is part of the reason that Ross has emerged as an x-factor for the Buckeyes down the stretch of the season.
But they could also win: Wichita State
Honestly, I think the Shockers have the second-best chance of sneaking their way through the West. Gregg Marshall’s club has proven to be versatile and deep. They have a roster full of JuCo transfers and overlooked recruits, a group of guys playing with a chip on their shoulder. Perhaps what’s more impressive is the variety of ways in which the Shockers have proven that they can win games. They beat Pitt by 18 points in the opener by out-uglying the Panthers, and followed that up by hitting 14 threes — seven in the last 12 minutes — to knock off Gonzaga in the round of 32.
(Click here to browse through all of our Sweet 16 previews)
Most Important Player: Mark Lyons, Arizona
In this Sweet 16 matchup, Lyons is going to have his work cut out for him, as he’ll be forced to lock horns with Aaron Craft, also known as the nation’s most aggravating on-ball defender. Lyons is incredibly important to what Arizona wants to do as a team, and he’s one of the only guys capable of creating his own shot on the roster. But here’s the key: if Arizona is going to win, they are going to have to take advantage of their size on the interior. Does Lyons avoid the temptation of trying to earn the glory of a trip to the Final Four himself, or can he get the ball into his big men inside.
Story line to watch: Regardless of what happens on Thursday, there is going to be either a No. 9 seed or a No. 13 seed playing for the right to go to the Final Four on Saturday evening. As it is, La Salle is already the nation’s least talked about great story, as the Explorers are just the fifth No. 13 seed to ever make it to the Sweet 16. And they played in the play-in game. It would be nice to see Aaron Craft make it to a second straight Final Four, and it will be interesting to see if Mark Lyons, who many crushed when he decided to enroll at Arizona, can fully silence the doubters with a Final Four run. But perhaps more than anything, could we be watching Marshall’s final days as Wichita State head coach?
1. Ohio State
2. Wichita State
4. La Salle
And the winner is?: Ohio State
I just think the Buckeyes are playing too well at this point. They also happen to have quite favorable matchups regardless of who they would draw in the Elite 8. They’re the only team in this region with experience playing this deep into the postseason. I think it pays off for them.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
May 4, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
Boise State might have found some production in its backcourt to help replace Derrick Marks.
May 4, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
Quinn Cook had plenty of ups and downs at Duke and this senior speech caps it all off.
May 4, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT
San Diego State landed a top-100 player in the 2016 class on Monday night.
Report: Former Clemson guard Rod Hall has interest from multiple NFL teams; college football also an option
May 4, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
Former Clemson point guard Rod Hall has some decisions to make regarding his future in football.
Four-star Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson will take a mission trip before playing college basketball
May 4, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT
Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson is a unique recruit because of a two-year mission he plans on taking after high school.
May 4, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
Seton Hall picked up a potential impact guard as a transfer.
May 4, 2015, 4:01 PM EDT
Anderson was completely off-base in his criticisms.
May 4, 2015, 3:18 PM EDT
It was a Terry Rozier-themed birthday part. Awesome.
May 4, 2015, 2:56 PM EDT
Mo Alie-Cox is one of the biggest and strongest players in college basketball.
May 4, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT
A quick look at some guys that can be stars in 2015-16.
May 4, 2015, 11:54 AM EDT
Ryan has set records for his ability to raise money at events like this.
May 4, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT
Curry burst onto the national scene with a huge 2008 NCAA tournament run.
May 4, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT
LeGerald Vick could end up moving into the class of 2015.
May 3, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Maia led the Ivy League in rebounding in each of his three seasons playing at Brown.
May 3, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT
Notre Dame’s first commitment in the 2016 class is an important one.
May 3, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT
The Aggies are on the board in 2016, and they’ve landed one of the top distributors in the class.
May 3, 2015, 8:25 PM EDT
Nigel Hayes believes that each individual school should be allowed to decide how much they give an athlete should they be allowed to pay them in the future.
May 3, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT
The Texans will hold its rookie minicamp next weekend.
May 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Jones hasn’t played a college game yet, but when he arrives on campus at UNLV he’ll be one of the best dunkers in college basketball.
May 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Former Colorado guard Dustin Thomas is heading to Arkansas.
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