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Previewing the Sweet 16: West Region

by Photo of Taylor Armosino

Two great games in the West: Florida/Marquette and Michigan State/Louisville. Who advances?

Previewing the Sweet 16: West Region

After a couple of days of inaction, the NCAA Tournament picks back up play today starting with the Sweet Sixteen. In the East Region, there are two very compelling matchups that will determine who will play on Saturday evening for a chance to represent the West Region in the Final Four.

#1 Michigan State vs. #4 Louisville

Summary:

There should be some great defense played in this game. Top seeded Michigan State and fourth seeded Louisville square off in the first of two Sweet 16 games in this region. Tom Izzo's Michigan State teams are 5-0 against Big East teams in the NCAA tournament. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino is 9-0 in Sweet 16 games. In 2009, second seeded Michigan State defeated top overall seed Louisville in the Elite Eight.  Michigan State, led by forward Draymond Green, has defeated LIU-Brooklyn and upstart St. Louis in their first two games. Defensively, they've been excellent as expected, holding their first two opponents to 39% shooting. Offensively, the Spartans have been consistent shooting the ball and have dominated on the boards. Louisville, led by guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, have faced a tougher road to the Sweet 16 than the aforementioned Spartans. Louisville took care of a good Davidson team in the first round and survived a battle of attrition against 5th seeded New Mexico. Russ Smith carried the Cardinals over New Mexico with 17 points off the bench. 

Key Matchup: Draymond Green vs the Louisville front court

In order for Louisville to win this game, the Cardinals must keep Michigan State's Draymond Green off the boards. Green has grabbed 25 boards combined in the Spartans first two games, and averaged 10.4 boards per game on the season. Louisville center Gorgui Dieng and forward Chane Behanan must be the guys to keep Green in check. Both players are very solid, capable rebounders, but Green is not your average bear. In Michigan State's first game, Green recorded his 2nd career NCAA tournament triple double. Louisville can overcome Green scoring 25 points, but Louisville will not win if Green causes havoc on the offensive boards. 

Winner: Michigan State

I think Draymond Green is the difference in this game. Louisville is a talented and strong defensive team, but I believe Green will continue his dominance and Michigan State will win the game.

#3 Marquette vs #7 Florida

Offense. Offense. Offense. Unlike the aforementioned Michigan State-Louisville game, this game is going to be an offensive shootout. Marquette boasts explosive athletes, such as Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, and will look to push the ball in transition. Florida is a team centered around strong guard play and loves to shoot the ball from the outside. Marquette overwhelmed BYU 88-68 in their first round matchup. In their second game versus Murray State, they used a late 14-2 run to bury the Racers 62-53. Coach Buzz Williams is in his 3rd year as a Marquette head coach. The Golden Eagles reached the Sweet 16 last season, but lost to number 1 seed North Carolina. Florida has rolled through both their early opponents. They defeated their two opponents, Virginia and Norfolk State, by a combined score of 155-95. Coach Billy Donovan is one of the better Tournament coaches in the country. He's led Florida to 2 National Championships and has gotten to the Sweet 16 two other times. 

Key Matchup: Florida's outside shooting against Marquette's perimeter defense

Florida boasts three guards with the potential to take a game over. Bradley Beal, Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton have the shooting ability to make it rain from downtown. Marquette guards Darius Johnson-Odom, Todd Mayo and Junior Cadougan have been solid defensively so far in this tournament. They held Murray State's Isaiah Cannon to 4/17 shooting from the floor. According to statsheet.com, Marquette ranked 69th in the country this season in opponent 3 point percentage. Florida has not exactly lit it up from downtown in this tournament. They've shot just 27% in their two tourney wins, although they did hit 10 three's in the Norfolk State game. In order for Marquette to win this game, they must keep Florida from raining in the 3 ball. 

Winner: Florida

Marquette is a very athletic team, but I think Florida's length on defense and ability to shoot the ball offensively will be the difference in this game. Marquette can be very turnover prone and I think Billy Donovan's press defense will cause some turnovers. Florida's defensive will give them an edge in half court defense and I think they'll win the game. 

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to the NCAA Tournament Final Four in New Orleans, LA.


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