Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, March 29, 2013 at 7:00 PM
The stage is set in the nation's capital and out in Hollywood too - a pair of NCAA Tournament Elite 8 games that figures to be riveting stuff. Here's what is on the Saturday college hoops menu ...
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT EAST REGIONAL FINAL
Verizon Center - Washington, D.C.
#4 SYRACUSE (29-9) vs. #3 MARQUETTE (26-8) - 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS
It's not often a pair of Sweet 16 underdog sides dominate their favored foes but that's what happened on Thursday night in D.C.
Okay, so maybe that famed 2-3 Syracuse zone was just too much to handle for a smaller Indiana backcourt that seemed intimidated at nearly every turn - plus the Hoosiers front court was pretty timid too as the Big 10 gang committed 19 turnovers and had 10 shots blocked (it only seemed as if it were more!) but how does anyone explain Marquette's rousing 71-61 triumph over 5 ½-point fav Miami - our Sweet-16 Shocker of the Year!
Yes, it was discovered publicly that Miami PG Shane Larkin was sick to his stomach but the Hurricanes played truly uninspiring offense in the Sweet 16 affair and now the 'Cuse wants its athletic group to go hard to the hoop and hope that PG Michael Carter-Williams (game-high 24 points against Indiana) keeps hitting his 15-foot jumpers while the Orange needs sharpshooter James Southerland to heat up after going a strangely silent 1-of-3 from the floor against Indiana.
Hey, did you notice - that as well as Syracuse played - Jim Boeheim's club registered a mere four assists on 21 made field goals on Thursday night? Hmmm.
But back to Marquette:
The Golden Eagles here need to get the majority of those "50-50 balls" that hoarse head coach Buzz Williams is always talkin' about and it sure would help if someone like Jamil Wilson (16 points and 8 boards in the blowout win against Miami) stepped it up to give G Vander Blue some help but here's two tips for the crew from Milwaukee:
Send everyone hard to the hoop - the 10 offensive rebounds against Miami was okay but count us among the folks that believe Marquette needs 15-to-20 "gimme points" here off offensive misses, etc. - or else!
Finally, in that 74-71 regular-season home win against the Orange back on February 25th, Marquette had a huge advantage from the foul line as the Golden Eagles connected on 29-of-35 FTs while the Orange nailed just 5-of-7 FTs - to think things will be lopsided in Marquette's favor again here from the charity stripe is silly, right?
Not if Blue, Junior Cadougan and mates are "making" the officials call fouls on aggressive drives through the zone and into the lane. Stay tuned.
SYRACUSE'S NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES
|3-21||Syracuse||- 13.5||Montana||Syracuse 81-34|
|3-23||Syracuse||- 7||California||Syracuse 66-60|
|3-22||Indiana||- 5||Syracuse||Syracuse 61-50|
MARQUETTE'S NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES
|3-21||Marquette||- 3||Davidson||Marquette 59-58|
|3-23||Marquette||- 1.5||Butler||Marquette 74-72|
|3-28||Miami||- 5.5||Marquette||Marquette 71-61|
NCAA TOURNAMENT WEST REGIONAL FINAL
Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA
#9 WICHITA STATE (29-8) vs. #2 OHIO STATE (29-7) - 7:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Now that the O-State Buckeyes are making it an NCAA Tourney habit of winning games with late perimeter jumpers - first it was PG Aaron Craft in last Sunday's near buzzer-beater win against Iowa State and than in the Sweet 16 tilt it was kid LaQuinton Ross who nailed the sweet wing jump shot - you get the feeling that Thad Matta's guys may be playing with fire.
Is that gonna cost 'em here against a rough-and-tumble Wichita State team that has won its three NCAA Tournament games by a per-game margin of 12.6 points?
The Shockers buried LaSalle 72-58 and really mashed the Explorers on the boards - did you know Wichita State won the first-half glass battle 25-8 en route to a 47-to-28 backboard advantage? - but maybe the first order of business for this Missouri Valley Conference club is to "check" the aforementioned Ross who registered 14 of his 17 points against Arizona in the second half and that aggressiveness to his game that was lacking back in January/February is now a major part of the Buckeyes' scene and game plan.
Let's not forget the chap who dished it off for the Ross game-winner on Thursday night in LA-LA land and that was - of course -- PG Aaron Craft (13 points, 5 assists and 5 rebs against 'Zona) but the reality here is Craft may not even be the top point guard on the floor for this West Regional Final.
Wichita State's do-it-all PG Malcolm Armstead (18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists against LaSalle) continues to make a major name for himself in this year's tourney and here look for Armstead to joust with Craft the full 94-feet while the Shockers' guard looks to get open looks for the likes of veteran F Carl Hall (16 points versus LaSalle) and frosh G Ron Baker - still something tells us Wichita State needs to drain more than a handful of triples here because Ohio State will "pack it in" at times and challenge that beefy W-State front court.
Tell us right now if Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas is good for 20-or-more points and we'll tell you who's going to the Final Four. It might be that simple, folks.
WICHITA STATE'S NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES
|3-21||Pittsburgh||- 4.5||Wichita State||Wichita State 73-55|
|3-23||Gonzaga||- 6.5||Wichita State||Wichita State 76-70|
|3-28||Wichita State||- 4.5||La Salle||Wichita State 72-58|
OHIO STATE'S NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES
|3-22||Ohio State||- 14.5||Iona||Ohio State 95-70|
|3-24||Ohio State||- 7.5||Iowa State||Ohio State 78-75|
|3-28||Ohio State||- 3.5||Arizona||Ohio State 73-70|
NOTE: Catch Sunday's NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.