The Sweet Sixteen is set, and there are some interesting story lines to consider.
First, the rematch between Indiana and Kentucky. The first game was won on a stunning three pointer by IU and is surely remembered by Kentucky.
The winner there will take on the winner of the Baylor-Xavier game. Both highly talented teams, for very different reasons they have both arguably underachieved. Baylor's talent is really not that far behind UK's, but Scott Drew is not nearly the coach that John Calipari is.
Syracuse and Wisconsin will do battler in the East and will take on the winner of the Cincinnati-Ohio State game.
That's an emotional matchup to say the least and brings up echoes from the late '50s and early '60s, when Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek took their Buckeyes to the Final Four three times, while Oscar Robertson led his Bearcats to two as well. One or both teams made the Final Four ever year between 1959 and 1963.
In the West, Michigan State will take a methodical approach focused on rebounding and discipline against Louisville and Rick Pitino, who has always preferred a frenetic pace.
If the 'Ville advances, they'll get a similar opponent in either Marquette or Florida, ably coached by Pitino protege Billy Donovan, who was loyal enough to shelter Pitino's son Richard on his staff during Pitino's infamous scandal (young Pitino has since returned to the Louisville staff).
Finally, in the Midwest, UNC and State are still alive, but UNC may or may not have the injured Kendall Marshall, and even with him, they aren't as good as they might be.
Ohio is no pushover: they have solid guard play, though they can't really match UNC's frontcourt. But without Marshall, or with a less-than-ideal Marshall, a lot of their advantages are neutered. Somebody has to handle the ball and move it around. You'll remember the dramatic improvement this team had when Larry Drew II flew. Marshall has made this bunch great. Who can take over if needed? Tough to see.
There's a reasonable chance that either State or Kansas could look past one another to a potential matchup with UNC.Â Assuming they don't, what are State's odds?
Well, Kansas has a terrific player in forward Thomas Robinson, who made the key play to beat Purdue. Not that it matters, but Purdue would have been a much better match for State than Kansas.
They also have Jeff Withey, all 7-0 of him, and he's had some moments of brilliance.
They are occasionally vulnerable at point guard, where Tyshawn Taylor has had a real up-and-down career and periodically self-destructs.
He's a St.Anthony's grad, by the way.
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