Yes, it’s that time of year again, when office productivity takes a plunge, and otherwise normal people are suddenly experts in ‘bracketology’. And nowhere is this truer than in Indiana, the nation’s basketball capital.
The Big Ten
There has been little disagreement over which conference is the nation’s best. Indeed, the Big Ten has been as advertised all season long, with four teams—Ohio State, Indiana University, Michigan and Michigan State—having advanced to the regional semifinals for the second year in a row. The last time that happened in the Big Ten, we were ‘partying like it was 1999.’
Oladipo vs. Carter-Williams
No discussion of this year’s Big 10 finalists would be complete without Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams. They have been the lynchpins of their respective teams throughout the regular season. Now they head to the nation’s capital on Thursday in what prove to be one of the game’s pivotal matchups.
Carter-Williams is arguably the country’s best overall defender, which makes the prospect of him taking going against one of the country’s best overall point guards all the more intriguing. The 6’6” MCW has been a formidable defensive force, despite his proclivity for turnovers—he averages 3.5 per game. And with 11.8 PPG, 7.6 APG (Assists Per Game) and 2.7 SPG (Steals Per Game) he has also been very efficient.
Oladipo is a good bet for the summer’s draft. He is 6’5” and talented both sides of the ball. He is able to hold his own against players of all sizes, and played a crucial role in propelling Indiana to a Big-10 regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney. With 2.1 SPG and a 43.3-percent shooting percentage outside the 3-point line, he will be a force to reckon with.
Michigan State vs. Duke
One Key matchup is Michigan State’s Adreian Payne and Duke’s Ryan Kelly. These two will no doubt be going at each other all day long on Friday. We are talking about two guys who are well versed at scoring in a variety of ways.
Payne is not the prototypical big guy. He has played extremely well, showing the ability to play the power forward position, but also excelling as a cornerman in recent weeks. While he didn’t play in Michigan State’s first two tournament contests, he is nevertheless a 40.5 percent shooter from outside the arch, and his blocking and rebounding abilities are rare. He had five blocks against Memphis alone.
Ryan Kelly, on the other hand, is most definitely a prototypical stretch-4, and a nightmare for any team that has to face him. At 6’11” he has the size to be imposing, and his 45.9-percent shooting from the 3-point line makes him all the more dangerous. He has gotten better on the defensive side as well.
Louisville versus Oregon
This will be an interesting one to watch. Louisville has two very capable players in Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, while Oregon’s Johnathan Loyd, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson form a formidable trio. Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is known for his zone looks, while Oregon’s Dana Altman likes to keep opponents guessing with his creative guard rotations. From a guard setup standpoint, this could easily prove to be one of the fast-played games in NCAA tournament history, and a speed junkie’s dream-come-true.
Louisville is second in the country, averaging 28 forced turnovers out of every 100 of its opponents’ possessions. Siva and Smith have been a big reason for this. They have helped the Cardinals rank first in adjusted defensive efficiency nationwide. This presents an interesting challenge for the Ducks, who average 14.2 turnovers per game, most in the Pac-12.
Midwest Regional Schedule:
NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Friday, March 29, 2013
- (12) Oregon vs. (1) Louisville at 7:15 PM ET on CBS
- (3) Michigan State vs. (2) Duke at 9:45 PM ET on CBS
Sunday, March 31, 2013, 12:00 PM.
- Louisville OR Oregon vs. Michigan State OR Duke