Today's NCAA Tournament Capsules


EAST REGION

NO. 2 NORTH CAROLINA VS. NO. 7 WASHINGTON

■ WHERE: Charlotte, N.C.

■ WHEN: 9:15 a.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ RECORDS: North Carolina 27-7, Washington 24-10

■ HOW THEY GOT HERE: North Carolina d. No. 15 Long Island, 102-87; Washington d. No. 10 Georgia, 68-65

■ LINE: North Carolina -5

■ KEY STAT: Washington hits 36.8 of its 3-pointers, and North Carolina shoots just 32.9 percent from beyond the arc.

■ BUZZ: Expect a frenetic, up-tempo game. Both teams want to run and will be quite comfortable if the game is in the 80s. Both teams can be lax on defense, and that has to worry both coaches. Washington needs its big men, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye, to be physical and make some plays defensively. Washington point guard Isaiah Thomas is one of the quickest players in the nation, and he will try to attack North Carolina's guards and get into the lane; if that happens consistently, the Tar Heels are in trouble.

NO. 1 OHIO STATE VS. NO. 8 GEORGE MASON

■ WHERE: Cleveland

■ WHEN: 2:15 p.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ RECORDS: Ohio State 33-2, George Mason 27-6

■ HOW THEY GOT HERE: Ohio State d. No. 16 Texas-San Antonio 75-46; George Mason d. Villanova, 61-57

■ LINE: Ohio State -8½

■ KEY STAT: Both teams shoot the ball well. Ohio State hits 49.5 percent from the floor (second nationally), George Mason 47.2 percent (22nd).

■ BUZZ: If George Mason is hot from beyond the arc, this will be an interesting game. The Patriots will have trouble with J.J. Sullinger (who doesn't have trouble with him?), but they have a chance to make things difficult for the Buckeyes' perimeter players. George Mason is athletic and has relatively good size on the perimeter. One issue for George Mason could be foul trouble; the Patriots have just six players who average more than 10 minutes. Forward Mike Morrison especially needs to avoid foul trouble; he's the only true big man who sees time. Keep an eye on George Mason guard Cam Long, the Patriots' best player. He hits 42.1 percent of his 3-point attempts and has to be hot from beyond the arc if George Mason is to pull the big upset.

NO. 3 SYRACUSE VS. NO. 11 MARQUETTE

■ WHERE: Cleveland

■ WHEN: 4:45 p.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ RECORDS: Syracuse 27-7, Marquette 21-14

■ HOW THEY GOT HERE: Syracuse d. No. 14 Indiana State, 77-60; Marquette d. No. 6 Xavier, 66-55

■ LINE: Syracuse -5

■ KEY STAT: Syracuse opponents hit only 39.4 percent of their field-goal attempts, the 12th-best field-goal percentage defense in the nation.

■ BUZZ: Marquette won the lone regular-season meeting by eight at home on Jan. 29. While Syracuse's defense has generally been excellent, the Orange have had a couple of defensive stinkers. One came in the loss to Marquette, when the Golden Eagles shot 52.3 percent overall and a sizzling 46.2 percent from 3-point range. (Syracuse lost despite shooting 57.1 percent overall.) Marquette usually isn't that efficient from 3-point range, as the Golden Eagles hit 35.4 percent from beyond the arc. You'd figure if the Orange can play better defense this time, they will win, as their big guys should have success against a smallish Marquette frontcourt. Marquette has to get a big offensive game from swingman Jimmy Butler or guard Darius Johnson-Odom if it's to beat Syracuse for a second time this season.

SOUTHWEST REGION

NO. 3 PURDUE VS. NO. 11 VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH

■ WHERE: Chicago

■ TIME: 4:10 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes play-by-play, Bob Wenzel analyst

■ RECORDS: Purdue 26-7, Virginia Commonwealth 25-11

■ HOW THEY GOT HERE: Purdue d. No. 14 Saint Peter's, 65-43; Virginia Commonwealth d. Southern California 59-46 in a "First Four" game, d. No. 6 Georgetown, 74-56

■ LINE: Purdue -10

■ KEY STAT: Virginia Commonwealth gets outrebounded by 3.4 per game.

■ BUZZ: Virginia Commonwealth's defense has been excellent in the tournament. In a "First Four" game, the Rams shut down frontcourt-oriented Southern California; in the second round, they shut down backcourt-oriented Georgetown. But Purdue has a big-time scorer in the frontcourt (forward JaJuan Johnson) and backcourt (guard E'Twaun Moore). Johnson should be able to exploit VCU's lack of size and could have a huge game on the boards. But Purdue doesn't have anyone else of note in its frontcourt. Purdue's tough perimeter defense will be tested by a Rams team that can get hot from beyond the arc, and the Boilermakers must keep VCU point guard Joey Rodriguez from getting into the lane.

NO. 1 KANSAS VS. NO. 9 ILLINOIS

■ WHERE: Tulsa, Okla.

■ WHEN: 5:40 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analyst

■ RECORDS: Kansas 33-2, Illinois 20-13

■ HOW THEY GOT HERE: Kansas d. No. 16 Boston University, 72-53; Illinois d. No. 8 UNLV, 73-62

■ LINE: Kansas -9

■ KEY STAT: Illinois hits 39.0 percent of its 3-pointers, but Kansas' opponents have shot only 29.7 percent from beyond the arc.

■ BUZZ: Illinois played one of its best games in hammering UNLV in the second round; the final score was not indicative of how much the Illini dominated. They have the athleticism and experience to hang with Kansas, but Illinois hasn't always played with intensity this season. A huge key is Illini point guard Demetri McCamey; he has to have a good all-around game -- as a scorer, passer and defender -- for Illinois to have a shot at the upset. Kansas' Morris twins are generally far more physical than Illinois big men Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis, and that bears watching. Indeed, Tisdale and Davis often play soft, and if that's the case today, Kansas' big men will have huge games.

NO. 2 NOTRE DAME VS. NO. 10 FLORIDA STATE

■ WHERE: Chicago

■ WHEN: 6:40 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes play-by-play, Bob Wenzel analyst

■ RECORDS: Notre Dame 27-6, Florida State 22-10

■ HOW THEY GOT HERE: Notre Dame d. No. 15 Akron, 69-56; Florida State d. No. 7 Texas A&M, 57-50

■ LINE: Notre Dame -6½

■ KEY STAT: Florida State leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense, allowing only 36.2 percent.

■ BUZZ: While Florida State plays lockdown defense, the Seminoles have lost 10 times, and that's because they aren't that good offensively. While Notre Dame gets noticed because of its offense, the Irish have played solid defense; their foes shoot only 40.7 percent. That means the onus is on Florida State's defenders, especially on the perimeter, to clamp down on the Irish's numerous offensive threats. Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis are big-time 3-point threats, but the key guy might be forward Carleton Scott, who must be effective in the low post against a big Seminoles frontcourt. Florida State is extremely sloppy with the ball, committing 16.0 turnovers per game. But the Irish force only 10.3, so the Seminoles' ballhandling might not be as big of a deal as it could be.

WEST REGION

NO. 1 DUKE VS. NO. 8 MICHIGAN

■ WHERE: Charlotte, N.C.

■ WHEN: 11:45 a.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ RECORDS: Duke 31-4, Michigan 21-13

■ HOW THEY GOT HERE: Duke d. No. 16 Hampton, 87-45; Michigan d. No. 9 Tennessee, 75-45

■ LINE: Duke -10

■ KEY STAT: Duke outscores foes by an average of 17.5 points per game.

■ BUZZ: Guard Kyrie Irving's return is big for Duke. He's the most talented player on the roster, and if he shows he's 100 percent or close to it, Michigan is in trouble. The Wolverines are small up front, which means Duke's Kyle Singler and the Plumlee twins should have a lot of success in the paint. Michigan has to be hot from 3-point range to make this interesting, but Duke allows only 31.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Blue Devils grab 12.2 offensive rebounds per game, something that should worry the Wolverines.

NO. 4 TEXAS VS. NO. 5 ARIZONA

■ WHERE: Tulsa, Okla.

■ WHEN: 3:10 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analyst

■ RECORDS: Texas 28-7, Arizona 28-7

■ HOW THEY GOT HERE: Texas d. No. 13 Oakland, 85-81; Arizona d. No. 12 Memphis, 77-75

■ LINE: Texas -4½

■ KEY STAT: Arizona makes 75 percent of its free throws (28th nationally); Texas is at only 65 percent (292nd).

■ BUZZ: While Arizona enjoys a decided advantage from the line, the Wildcats are often spotty on defense, and Texas must take advantage. Arizona forward Derrick Williams is a big-time presence in the paint, and the Wildcats have been effective hitting the 3-pointer when opposing defenses sag on Williams. While Arizona shoots 39.6 percent from beyond the arc, Texas has held opponents to 28.8 percent from 3-point range. Expect Texas to use a few different defenders on Williams, but figure Longhorns freshman Tristan Thompson (Findlay Prep) to get most of the action. Thompson will also be important on the offensive boards, where Texas has been strong this season. Texas senior guard Dogus Balbay provides no offense, but his defense could cause problems for Arizona.

MIKE HUGUENIN/RIVALS.COM

 

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