March 24, 2011 in Sports

Examining the Sweet 16

Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune
 

East Region

(4) Kentucky (27-8) vs.

(1) Ohio State (34-2)

• Things to know: Kentucky’s Doron Lamb is nursing a sore ankle. Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft comes off the bench for center Dallas Lauderdale and is coming off a school-record 15-assist performance in the victory over George Mason.

• Players to watch: The freshmen are the stars. Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, the Big Ten freshman of the year, averages 17.1 points and 10 rebounds. UK guard Brandon Knight averages 17.4 points and 4.2 assists.

(11) Marquette (22-14) vs.

(2) North Carolina (28-7)

Things to know: The Tar Heels have put together a string of comebacks, including charging from 11 down to beat Washington in the third round. Marquette rallied from 10 down to topple third-seeded Syracuse.

• Players to watch: Marquette senior Jimmy Butler has the ability to guard a point guard or a power forward, while also producing offensively with 15.8 ppg and 6.1 rpg. North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes is a clutch shooter, averaging 15.5 points and 5.7 rebounds.

Southwest Region

(12) Richmond (30-7) vs.

(1) Kansas (34-2)

Things to know: Richmond gave Morehead rebounding star Kenneth Faried trouble with double teams. The Spiders have another looming task against the Jayhawks’ Morris twins.

• Players to watch: Richmond point guard Kevin Anderson has averaged 19.4 points during the Spiders’ nine-game winning streak. Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hit his stride in the Big 12 tournament.

(11) VCU (26-11) vs.

(10) Florida State (23-10)

Things to know: VCU emerged from the First Four, beating USC, Georgetown and Purdue, which they ousted with a 94-76 blowout. Florida State is known for outstanding defense, holding opponents to 62 ppg, but shot the lights out against No. 2 Notre Dame.

• Players to watch: Chris Singleton, a 6-9 forward, was the ACC defensive player of the year for Florida State, averaging 6.7 rebounds. VCU guard Joey Rodriguez was outstanding against Purdue with 10 assists and 10 points.

West Region

(1) Duke (32-4) vs.

(5) Arizona (29-7)

Things to know: The Blue Devils added another weapon to the backcourt when freshman Kyrie Irving returned from a three-month absence with a toe injury. Arizona advanced after a controversial call against Texas in the third round and could be playing to prove it belongs.

• Players to watch: Arizona’s Derrick Williams, a 6-8 forward, is a beast in the lane, getting to the free-throw line frequently and averaging 19.1 points and 8.2 rebounds. Duke is led by guard Nolan Smith, who averages 21.3 ppg.

(3) Connecticut (28-9) vs.

(2) San Diego State (34-2)

Things to know: The Huskies have won seven games in 11 days, and many fans are wondering how long their legs will hold up. San Diego State, one of the tournament’s most athletic teams, needed two overtimes to beat Temple.

• Players to watch: Connecticut guard Kemba Walker might be the tournament’s most electric player with highlight-reel game-winners throughout the season. Forward Kawhi Leonard averages 15.6 points and 10.6 rebounds for the Aztecs.

Southeast Region

(8) Butler (25-9) vs.

(4) Wisconsin (25-8)

Things to know: Both teams pride themselves on efficiency and defense. The Badgers ranked third nationally in holding opponents to 58.3 ppg. Before giving up 70 points to Pittsburgh in another down-to-the-wire tournament victory for Butler, the Bulldogs had held 10 of their last 11 opponents to 65 or fewer.

• Players to watch: Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor leads the nation with a 4.03-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Butler guard Shelvin Mack is coming off a 30-point performance.

(3) BYU (32-4) vs.

(2) Florida (28-7)

Things to know: Florida guard Kenny Boynton, the team’s No. 2 scorer with 14.1 ppg, sprained his left ankle in a victory against UCLA but is expected to play. The Cougars are deeper than they have been in the tournament since 1981 and Danny Ainge.

• Players to watch: Jimmer Fredette leads the nation with 28.6 ppg, including 32 and 34 in BYU’s first two tournament victories. Erving Walker, a 5-foot-5 point guard, has provided late-game heroics for the Gators.

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