A look at Saturday’s NCAA Tournament games
3. Marquette (24-8) vs. 6. Butler (27-8): This will be another grinder, as many of Thursday afternoon’s games were. Marquette is lucky to be here with their unlikely victory over Davidson. Marquette is a poor outside shooting team and Davidson capitalized on that; Butler will probably do it better. Butler could struggle to score, they did against Bucknell. Figure this game to be in the 50s unless both teams shoot well, then the 60s.
4. Syracuse (27-9) vs. 12. California (21-11): Syracuse looked like it’s getting back in form while vaporizing Montana Thursday. James Southerland has caught fire from behind the arc and forward C.J. Fair is always hard to stop. Cal played one of their best games of the season in handling UNLV and the Bears will need a repeat of that to have a chance. They have to control the pace and figure out how to score against Syracuse’s zone.
1. Louisville (30-5) vs. 8.Colorado State (26-8): Louisville did exactly what a top seed should do, complete squash a 16 seed. The Cards will press full-court and try to create the chaos in which they flourish. Colorado State played a tremendous game, maybe their best of the season, in beating Missouri Thursday. The Rams are the leading rebounding team in the country and they crushed Missouri on the boards 42-19 and Mizzou is the third-ranked rebounding team in the country. The Rams’ guards are experienced too. Louisville must be prepared for a tough fight.
3. Michigan State (26-8) vs. 6. Memphis (31-4): Las Vegas had Memphis as an underdog in its opening game vs. Saint Mary’s but the Tigers led from start to finish and got some great play from guard Joe Jackson and their intimidating big men Tarik Black and Shaq Goodwin. Michigan State rolled over Valpo and looks ready to advance further. Memphis can match Michigan State physically so this has a chance to be a close game.
4. Saint Louis (28-6) vs. 12. Oregon (27-8): Oregon proved its point with a big victory over Oklahoma State: They should have had a better seed. The Ducks had good inside play from big man Arsalan Kazemi and good outside play from freshman point guard Dominic Artis. However, the Ducks have never faced anything like Saint Louis’ defense. The Billkens just strangle opponents’ offenses and they did that in the first-round victory over New Mexico State. The Bills will dictate terms and win this comfortable.
4. Michigan (27-7) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (26-8): VCU's full-court press is a challenge for any team but Michigan has great ball-handling guards especially Trey Burke to be able to handle it. It comes down to this: When VCU forces 20 or more turnovers, they're undefeated; when they don't, they usually lose. Michigan has a simple task, don't turn it over, get some shots and make them.
1. Gonzaga (31-2) vs. 9. Wichita State (27-8): What a contrast on Thursday. Wichita was one of the most impressive of the day in dominating Pitt with their smothering defense and patient offense. Meanwhile, Gonzaga almost became the first No. 1 seed to loss to a 16 seed. They survived but it was ugly. The Zags hadn’t played since March 11 and it looked it. Expect a complete turnabout and big offensive effort.
6. Arizona (26-7) vs. 14. Harvard (20-9): Harvard will need another stellar coaching job from Tom Amaker who used his smaller, quicker lineup to advantage in the upset over New Mexico. The Crimson won’t have a quickness advantage against Arizona and the Wildcats attack the boards. The Crimson need to shoot a high percentage and not get killed on the boards to have another chance at an upset.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell