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Sweet Sixteen Gets Interesting Fast

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There are some great matchups and some great story lines looming in the Sweet

First a brief recap: Wisconsin very nearly got Syracuse, but the Orange
cracked down on defense and stopped Bo Ryan's bunch from scoring on their last
possession - twice.

Florida's defense has supposedly been their weak spot but it was pretty good
against Marquette as they sent they knocked off the Golden Eagles by 68-58.

Ohio State handled Cincinnati early before the Bearcats roared back only to
see the Buckeyes roar back themselves, winning 81-66 and cracking down on the
Bearcats. Jared Sullinger showed again why he is a superb talent, rebounding,
scoring and passing like a champ. He's been discounted a bit since Anthony Davis
came on the scene, but no one should underestimate the guy's intelligence for
the game. He's really, really sharp.

See a theme here? Still, all the solid defense and defenders Thursday can bow
down to Louisville as they just dismantled powerhouse Michigan State, 57-44.
That's the lowest total by a #1 seed since the shot clock was introduced. They
ran over Michigan like a bus going over Wile E. Coyote.

Michigan State, to be clear, is really good. You wouldn't expect them to be
held to 28.6%, but they were.

Gorgui Dieng had seven blocks - not a bad night's work!

This sets up a fun teacher-pupil game between little Ricky Pitino and
Florida's Billy Donovan. Think Rick will ask son Richard what it's like in the
Florida huddle?

Should Louisville win that, they'll get the winner of the game Bob Knight is
loathe to mention, Kentucky vs. Indiana. And Louisville vs. Kentucky in the
semifinals would be epic.

That assumes a Kentucky win over IU of course and that they beat the winner
of the Baylor/Xavier game. Our money is on Baylor by the way.

On the other side, Syracuse and Ohio State will tangle, and that's going to
be really interesting too.

But before that game, the other side of the bracket gets busy with UNC taking
on Ohio and State taking on Kansas.

These games are in St. Louis, which is basically a homecourt for the

Carolina of course is either playing without Kendall Marshall or playing with
a limited Kendall Marshall who may try to go with a broken right wrist. Seems
dicey for a point guard, but he is a gamer.

On the other hand, he told Roy Williams that he can't brush his teeth yet, so
that is not a good sign.

If we had to pick an unsung hero in this one, we'd say Justin Watts, who has
a chance to carve out a truly unique place in the history of UNC basketball: the
ultimate Mr. Fixit.

For State, this is like maybe Marquette playing Carolina in Raleigh.

On the other hand, there are some serious pits in the ACC. Playing in Chapel
Hill is no fun for State, and the trip to Cameron this year was unusually

In different years, Maryland can be hell, and Clemson has a special place in
the Inferno.

So maybe it won't be that much to overcome.

If UNC and Kansas advance, obviously that's a circle-the-date game for the
Jayhawks, who enjoy sticking it to Roy Williams when they have the chance. And
the UNC Cocktail without a straw? That's a mood enhancer, as long as the mood is

Back to State for a minute: with Duke out, we're pulling hard for the Pack.
And can we take a minute to praise the growth in this team? It's

State has just taken off in every way. As ACC fans, we couldn't be prouder of
our brethren.

We're very happy for State fans, who finally get a new shot at major glory.
Enjoy it. Win or lose, your guys have been superb at the end - when it counts
the most.

We could see them getting to the Final Four actually: they'd have to beat
Kansas obviously, but to get UNC with a limited or absent Kendall Marshall?
Catnip. Or wolfnip, or some sort of stimulant.

In the previous three games UNC won 74-55, 86-74 and 69-67 in Atlanta. The
first game was a runaway. The second was too, but that was during State's
emotional fog after the devastating Duke comeback in Cameron.

The tournament game was sensational, coming down to literally the last

For State, the key is to stay out of foul trouble and to play smart. If
they can do that and handle the crowd pressure, they'll be fine.

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