NCAA Tournament

Previews for Thursday’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 games

Updated: 2013-03-27T20:16:17Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

EAST REGION

At Washington, D.C.

No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 2 Miami, Fla., 6:15 p.m., CBS

• Shane Larkin has been outstanding all year, but the Miami point guard has elevated his game in the postseason. His step back three-pointer was the critical basket in Miami’s round-of-32 victory over Illinois. Marquette is in the Sweet 16 after two escape acts, against Davidson and Butler. Bad news for the Hurricanes: center Reggie Johnson won’t play because of a knee injury. This game matches conference champions. The Golden Eagles shared the Big East title with Louisville and Georgetown. Miami won the ACC regular season and tournament.

•  Pick: Marquette 74-71

No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 1 Indiana, 8:45 p.m., CBS

• The Hoosiers had trouble with Temple’s pace and now they get Syracuse’s zone. The Orange’s length figures to give Indiana problems. A great backcourt matchup pits the Hoosiers’ Victor Oladipo, widely considered the nation’s top perimeter defender, against Michael Carter-Williams. The teams met for the 1987 national championship – remember the Keith Smart jumper? The Hoosiers are on their fourth coach since then, while Jim Boeheim continues to lead Syracuse.

•  Pick: Indiana 77-70

WEST REGION

At Los Angeles

No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 2 Ohio State, 6:47 p.m., TBS

• The Buckeyes are the clear favorites to come out of this region, and they were fortunate to get here, needing a last-second three-pointer from Aaron Craft to beat Iowa State. DeShaun Thomas continues to carry the load for Ohio State, averaging 23 points in the tournament. The Wildcats easily knocked off Belmont at Harvard. Point guard Mark Lyons makes Arizona go. The coaches, Ohio State’s Thad Matta and Arizona’s Sean Miller, served together on Xavier’s staff, where Matta was the head coach.

•  Pick: Ohio State 76-71

No. 13 La Salle vs. No. 9 Wichita State, 9:17 p.m, TBS

• The Sweet 16 game nobody outside of Philly and Wichita expected. The Explorers downed Wisconsin and Mississippi with great guard play, led by Ramon Galloway, a deadly three-point shooter. Plus there’s Tyrone Garland and his “Southwest Philly floater,” the shot that felled Ole Miss. If the Explorers win they’ll become the first No. 13 seed or worse to make a regional final. The Shockers stunned top-ranked Gonzaga after bouncing Pittsburgh and are bidding for their first Elite Eight since 1981. Wichita State’s Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early outplayed the Zags’ big men and combine to average 27 points and 12 rebounds.

•  Pick: Wichita State 67-65

| Blair Kerkhoff, bkerkhoff@kcstar.com

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