(4) Wisconsin vs (1) Syracuse
The loss of Fab Melo has not seem to hurt the Orange much yet. Both of these teams can shoot the three well as Syracuse shot 67 percent in their win over Kansas State. Wisconsin won a grind it out game against Vanderbilt led by Jordan Taylor’s 14 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds. The Badgers will have their hands full inside with Rakeem Christmas and Kris Joseph who had 16 combined rebounds in their 3rd round win. The Orange must take better control of the basketball against a very good Wisconsin defense, who forced Vanderbilt to turn it over 12 times. The inside presence and the depth of the bench will lead the Orange to the elite 8.
Syracuse 72, Wisconsin 65
(4) Louisville vs (1) Michigan State
The biggest issue going into this game for the Cardinals will be finding a way to stop Draymond Green. Green had 16 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists against St. Louis. Gorgui Deng had a nice game scoring 6 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in their win over New Mexico, but will need to stay out of foul trouble guarding Green. Kyle Kuric can help on the boards, slip out and shoot the three and at 6’4 he is a match-up nightmare for the Spartans guards. The battle between Keith Appling and Peyton Siva will be fun to watch as they both are very athletic and can score. When it gets to this point in the tournament Tom Izzo just gets more out of his teams than most, the Spartans move on.
Michigan State 64, Louisville 60
(6) Cincinnati vs (2) Ohio State
Yhancy Gates will be a busy man come Thursday night having to contain Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas all night. Gates had 10 points and 5 rebounds against Florida State, while Sullinger and Thomas combined for 36 points and 17 rebounds in a win over Gonzaga. Both of the teams have sharpshooters in Aaron Craft and Sean Kilpatrick, who can shoot the lights out if you lose them on defense. Neither team has an outstanding bench, so it will come down to who controls the paint to allow their shooters to go off. I see Jared Sullinger having his way inside and Aaron Craft gets a lot of good looks, Buckeyes win easily.
Ohio State 77, Cincinnati 64
(7) Florida vs (3) Marquette
Neither team was really tested in the third round, as both teams won easily. The back court duo of Bradley Beal and Kenny Boynton scored 34 points in a blowout win over Norfolk State. Jae Crowder was a monster inside for the Golden Eagles with 17 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Murray State. The inside game of Marquette is strong with Crowder and Jamil Wilson, while Florida controls the back court with three guards who have well-rounded games. I will take the guard play in the tournament, the Gators pull the upset.
Florida 71, Marquette 67
(10) Xavier vs (3) Baylor
Kenny Frease must continue to play like he did against Lehigh to beat the Bears. Frease had 25 points and 12 rebounds, providing a dominant inside presence all game. Tu Holloway is tough to stop in their backcourt, he had 21 points and shot 50 percent from three against Lehigh. The Bears have a shooter in their own and his name is Brady Heslip, who scored 27 points and was 9 of 12 from three against Colorado. Inside the paint, Baylor has Perry Jones and Quincy Acy who will give Frease a headache all night. Bears are too much inside and march on to Sunday.
Baylor 77, Xavier 69
(13) Ohio vs (1) North Carolina
The big story going into this game will be whether or not Kendall Marshall will play. Marshall fractured his right wrist in their win over Creighton and needed to have immediate surgery. He is the point guard on the floor and had 18 points and 11 assists, and will be a major loss going forward if he cannot play to his full ability. The backcourt duo of Walter Offutt and D.J. Cooper lead the charge for Ohio, they combined for 40 points and Offutt was 4 for 4 from three in the upset of South Florida. The Bobcats have had a great run, but North Carolina is too athletic and powerful, Tar Heels move on.
North Carolina 85, Ohio 69
(4) Indiana vs (1) Kentucky
A rematch of one of the best games of the season, where the Hoosiers knocked off the Wildcats in Bloomington. Kentucky easily has the most talented team left in the tournament, with multiple players expected to be first round picks. They have a superb point guard in Marquis Teague who can distribute and score and in their front court they have a shot blocking machine in Anthony Davis. Teague scored 24 points and had 7 assists and Davis had 15 points and 12 rebounds in a dominating victory over Iowa State. Cody Zeller will give Davis quite a test tonight, he had 16 points and 13 rebounds in a win over VCU. Both teams shoot the three very well and make you defend the perimeter. If the Wildcats bring their A game, they will be tough to beat.
Kentucky 77, Indiana 66
(11) NC State vs (2) Kansas
The Wolfpack have been on a roll since their emergence in the ACC tournament and are giving teams fits. Kansas must regroup after being outplayed by Purdue most of the game. NC State got very balanced scoring in their upset of Georgetown with four players finishing in double figures. The Wolfpack are an inside team but don’t sleep on Scott Wood, who went 4-5 from three range against the Hoyas. The Jayhawks love to pound the ball inside with Thomas Robinson because they for the most part do not have a strong perimeter game, so expect Robinson to see double teams. NC State has been a very tough out so far, but expect to see an inspired Kansas team show up in this one.
Kansas 69, NC State 65