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Thursday's Sweet 16 Picks

6 Arizona vs. 2 Ohio State
These two teams roar into the Sweet 16, despite different expectations when the tournament began. Many had the Wildcats getting upset by Belmont, while Ohio State was a popular Elite Eight/Final Four selection. Though it was the Buckeyes who struggled to get past the 10 seed Iowa State, as they needed a buzzer beater from Aaron Craft to beat the Cyclones. This one has an interesting point guard battle as Craft and his playmaking ability face Xavier transfer Mark Lyons, who can score on a dime. Both have been on fire, Craft hitting shots and showing his dominant defense as well, while Lyons scored 50 combined in Arizona's first two games. Both of these teams have stretch forwards as Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas takes shot after shot, and Arizona's Solomon Hill plays aggressive defense and has a good mid range game. Whoever has the better game should lead their squad to a victory and the Elite Eight. My money is on Thomas who always plays even better in the tournament.
Ohio State, 68 Arizona, 62
Vander Blue

2 Miami vs. 3 Marquette

The Miami Hurricanes, a very popular championship pick didn't dominate Illinois in the third round and they have an even tougher match up against the Marquette Golden Eagles. Miami will use ball screens to free up their leading scorer, point guard Shane Larkin who can nail the three and has improved his passing in his sophomore year. Marquette has a number of guards who can score including Vander Blue and Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett but their defense may have troubles containing Larkin and Durand Scott. The key could be in the low post where the Hurricanes will be without leading rebounder Reggie Johnson who is a lot to handle. This means Jim Larranaga's club must get huge contributions from Kenny Kadji and the rest of their frontcourt. If they do, the 'Canes should be able to beat Marquette.
Miami, 73 Marquette, 65

9 Wichita State vs. 13 La Salle
Two Cinderella's square off in this one, with a chance in the Elite Eight on the line. La Salle has relied heavily on explosive guard Ramon Galloway to beat Kansas State and then Ole Miss, busting a ton of brackets. The Explorers must shut down the Wichita State Shockers who has handled Pitt and Gonzaga in the first rounds thanks to junior Cleanthony Early who is leading the team in both scoring and rebounding in this tournament. Neither of these teams are very flashy, the Shockers win games by playing tough and stingy defense. The Explorers can score with players other than Galloway, like Tyrone Garland but even that dynamic combo could have some struggles putting up points against a Shockers that only allows 60 points a game. If Early gets some help from his teammates and they don't let Galloway become a factor, Wichita State should dance into the Elite Eight.
Wichita State, 68 La Salle, 61

1 Indiana vs. 4 Syracuse
Cody Zeller and Yogi Ferrell
Two of college basketball's perennial powers meet in DC, both playing great basketball. The Hoosiers were eliminated by Kentucky in last year's Sweet 16, but they didn't have Victor Oladipo playing the way he is, and Cody Zeller consistently dominating down low. Oladipo continues to be the key for Indiana, when he struggles the team struggles, but when he plays well the team usually wins games. His ability to attack the rim, hit shots on the perimeter and play psychical defense always give Indiana a good shot. Meanwhile, the Orange spread the ball around on offense and can shut teams down with their great zone defense. The X-factor for Syracuse is point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who is fantastic when he is on his game, but at times he turns the ball over at an incredible rate and struggles to find his shot. He must also be a factor on the defensive end, as he must force Indiana's freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell to turn the ball over.
Indiana, 76 Syracuse, 66

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