Skip to content

Previewing the Midwest Regional: Is it 2009 all over again?

Mar 29, 2013, 9:35 AM EST

Colorado State v Louisville Getty Images

Favorite: Louisville

The Cardinals have been the most impressive team in the NCAA tournament to date, and it’s all thanks to their defense. It’s simply been overwhelming, and it’s not like they are changing anything. Louisville is just doing what they do on a nightly basis. Russ Smith, Peyton Siva and Kevin Ware pressure their opponent’s back court. Luke Hancock and Chane Behanan pick off the errant passes that float out of the back court. Gorgui Dieng and Montrezl Harrell swat away anything that happens to make its way to the rim.

Louisville’s defense is streaky. Once they get one steal and a layup off of it, their confidence grows. It builds on itself and snowballs until opponents are seeing flashes of Smith and Siva when they close their eyes at night. You see, Louisville is not a great half court team. They are much better when they can score in transition. And when they do score, they are able to get right back into that press. It’s not fun to play against.

But they could also win: Michigan State

The Spartans actually matchup well with Duke on the interior. Derrick Nix is big enough that he won’t be overpowered by Mason Plumlee, which means that he’ll be able to guard Duke’s all-american center one-on-one in the post. That will make things difficult for the Blue Devils on the perimeter, as the Spartans will be able to matchup with them. The key to Michigan State making it out of the weekend, however, is going to be the health of Keith Appling’s shoulder. When he’s playing well, Michigan State is a much better team.

(Click here to browse through all of our Sweet 16 previews)

Most Important Player: Point guards playing Louisville

It will be Dominic Artis and Jonathan Loyd on Friday night. On Sunday, it will either be Appling or Duke’s Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton. You know what you’re getting when you do up against this Louisville team, but that doesn’t mean that it’s possible to prepare for. You just simply cannot replicate that kind of speed, quickness or defensive tenacity. Protect the ball and have a chance. Turn it over, and go the way of Colorado State.

Story line to watch: Rewind to the 2009 tournament. No. 1 overall seed and title favorite Louisville played No. 12 seed Arizona in the Sweet 16 and blew them out, advancing to take on Michigan State in the Elite 8. In Indianapolis. In the Midwest Region. Sound familiar? Well, Michigan State won that game. Can the Cardinals reverse their fortunes this time around?

Rank ‘em:

1. Louisville
2. Michigan State
3. Duke
4. Oregon

And the winner is?: Louisville

Louisville is rolling right now, and unfortunately I just don’t see anyone in this region that has the back court play to handle the press. Oregon has turnover issues. Michigan State has turnover issues. In fact, I think that if Duke can get by the Spartans in the Sweet 16, they may actually have the best chance to take down Louisville; they’ve done it once already this season. But at the end of the day, Louisville is streaky, so you might as well ride the hot hand while it lasts.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. 2015 Gildan Charleston Classic field includes reigning ACC champions

    Nov 20, 2014, 9:29 PM EST

    Tony Bennett Tony Bennett

    2015 participants George Mason (2010) and Seton Hall (2011) will play in the Gildan Charleston Classic for the second time in the history of the event.

  2. Caris LeVert’s all-around impact helps No. 24 Michigan hold off Detroit

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:36 PM EST

    Caris LeVert, Lucas Grose Caris LeVert, Lucas Grose

    Caris LeVert led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds, and Michigan held Juwan Howard Jr. without a point over the final 5:39.

  3. Hand injury sidelines Tennessee sophomore forward for home opener

    Nov 20, 2014, 6:59 PM EST

    Veterans Classic Tennesse vs Virginia Commonwealth Getty Images

    Dominic Woodson injured his left hand in practice Sunday.

  4. Inclement weather leads to postponement of Montana State’s game at Buffalo

    Nov 20, 2014, 6:04 PM EST

    Record Snowstorm Pummels Buffalo Getty Images

    More than sixty inches of snow have fallen in western New York this week, so it makes little sense to attempt to play a sporting event as scheduled.

  5. Arizona, Michigan State headline 2015 Wooden Legacy field

    Nov 20, 2014, 4:58 PM EST

    Tom Izzo Tom Izzo

    Arizona, Michigan State and Providence all reached last season’s NCAA tournament.

  6. Burning Questions: Who gets the last shot?

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:32 PM EST

    marcus paige Getty Images

    Who is the most clutch player in the country?

  7. Throwback Thursday: Jeff Brassow beats Arizona in Maui in 1993 (VIDEO)

    Nov 20, 2014, 2:37 PM EST

    jeff_brassow

    The 2014 Maui Invitational kicks off on Monday.

  8. Poll: 54 percent of people think Kentucky beats the 76ers, 54 percent of people are dumb

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:57 PM EST

    @Sportsnation @Sportsnation

    I cannot respect your intelligence if you think Kentucky beats Philly. I just can’t do it.

  9. Burning Questions: Will we get another surprise Final Four team this year?

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:29 PM EST

    Aaron White, Nathan Hawkins AP

    The last two years, Wichita State, UConn and Kentucky have all made the Final Four as teams seeded outside the top six.

  10. Jerry Tarkanian is back in the hospital

    Nov 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Sad: One of the sport’s most notorious coaches is struggling with his health.

  11. Assigned Reading: The Tao of Shaka

    Nov 20, 2014, 11:05 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    There’s more to Shaka Smart than meets the eye.

  12. Report: Colleagues don’t expect Brandon Miller to return to coaching

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:32 AM EST

    Brandon Miller Brandon Miller

    Will we ever see Butler’s head coach on the sideline again?

  13. Late Night Snacks: Creighton, Gonzaga make statement in wins

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:05 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    It was a quiet night on the college hoops front, but one ranked team went down.

  14. Defense carries the day for an Arizona team that’s still a work in progress offensively

    Nov 20, 2014, 12:53 AM EST

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson AP

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was the spark plug for a team that has a lot of progress to make offensively.

  15. Key Missouri freshman will not be traveling with team to Maui Invitational

    Nov 19, 2014, 11:37 PM EST

    10171551

    Jakeenan Gant has yet to play in a game for Missouri.

  16. Creighton comes from 18 down to knock off No. 18 Oklahoma

    Nov 19, 2014, 10:37 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    This is a huge win for Creighton and for the Big East as a whole.