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Previewing the Sweet 16: South Region

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Kentucky takes on Indiana and Baylor battles with Xavier in the South Region’s Sweet 16 games.

Previewing the Sweet 16: South Region

The second round of Sweet 16 games are being played tonight.  Last night's games weren't the most thrilling affairs, and hopefully the teams in the South and Midwest regions can give us the March Madness we've come to expect from the Tournament.  Here is a primer for the games taking place in the South Regional.

#1 Kentucky vs. #4 Indiana

Summary:

This game has a different layer of intrigue than all the other Sweet 16 games.  Kentucky will be looking for revenge after Christian Watford's last-second three gave Indiana an upset win over the Wildcats earlier this year.  The highlight of Watford's three has been playing on television constantly in a college basketball ad, and seeing that shot over and over again has to irk the Kentucky players a little bit.  

Kentucky is a much different team since that game, and they've probably been the most dominant team in the tournament thus far.  They've won their two games by a combined 31 points.  Kentucky is doing exactly what they have to do: destroy the other team.  

Indiana, on the other hand, lost Verdell Jones III and just barely scraped by VCU in the third round.  Guys like Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo have elevated their play, but against all the talent that Kentucky has, will it matter?

Key Matchup: Indiana's Cody Zeller vs. Kentucky's Anthony Davis  

This battle of freshmen in the post will play a big role in the outcome of tonight's game.  In their first meeting, Zeller got the best of Davis by getting Kentucky's big man in foul trouble.  Davis played just 24 minutes in that game and scored just 6 points (he still grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 3 shots, but those numbers would both be higher had he played another 10 minutes).

Not only is Davis the key to Kentucky's defense, he's taken on a much more active role in the offense.  Zeller is equally important for Indiana down low.  If either gets in foul trouble, their team is put at a disadvantage due to their absence.

Winner: Kentucky

There's no way John Calipari let's his team fall to Indiana again.  Tom Crean will have his team ready and they will put up a good fight, but this Kentucky team is just on a different planet right now.

#3 Baylor vs. #10 Xavier

Summary:

This matchup pits two of the more enigmatic teams in the country against each other.  Baylor has all the talent in the world and can make you look foolish, but often can't harness it or withstand extended runs by their opponents.  We've seen both versions of this team so far in the tournament (weak in the beginning of their game against South Dakota State, strong in their finish against Colorado).  Which team shows up in the Sweet 16?

Xavier was a team whose identity was defined by its toughness.  That identity was lost after the big brawl with Cincinnati, and they've been searching for it ever since.  Tu Holloway seems to have regained that swagger, and the rest of the team has rallied to win tough games against Notre Dame and Lehigh.

Key Matchup: Baylor's Perry Jones III vs. Xavier's Kenny Frease

Perry Jones III is a microcosm of this Baylor team.  He can play like an All-American and also disappear into nothing.  So far during the tournament, Jones III has been more the latter, not really getting into a groove in either game.  He'll be matched up against Xavier's burly big man Kenny Frease, who really exploited his mismatch against Lehigh with a 25 points/12 rebound performance.  Frease is a lot to handle down low, and Jones III and Quincy Acy will be tasked with slowing him down.

On the other end, Frease is the kind of player that Jones III can exploit because of his length and quickness.  It will be an interesting matchup of contrasting styles between these two big men.

Winner: Baylor

After some rough patches, Baylor looks poised to keep their run going.  With the contributions they have been getting from Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip, a strong effort from Jones III will counteract any heroics from Holloway tonight.

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


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