The Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament kicks off on Thursday night with a schedule of four games, the same as Friday. Games on the weekend will determine who advances to next weekend’s Final Four in New Orleans. Here is a look at the matchups:
East Region (Boston)
(1) Syracuse vs. (4) Wisconsin
Thursday, 7:15 p.m. ET
After a scary game to open the tournament, Syracuse looked much more confident against Kansas State, playing without academically ineligible starting centre Fab Melo. Wisconsin will look to expose Syracuse in the middle, but does not have a high-end inside threat.
(2) Ohio State vs. (6) Cincinnati
Thursday, 9:45 p.m. ET
The intrastate rivals are meeting for only the second time in 50 years. Both teams are among the stingiest in the country, with Buckeyes post presence Jared Sullinger an easy-bucket machine.
Pick: Ohio State
West Region (Phoenix)
(1) Michigan State vs. (4) Louisville
Thursday, 7:47 p.m. ET
You are going to see lots of reaction shots from both benches, as the matchup pits two of the NCAA’s most recognizable coaches: Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino. Izzo’s Spartans surprised Pitino’s Cardinals in 2009 to reach the Final Four.
Pick: Michigan State
(3) Marquette vs. (7) Florida
Thursday, 10:17 p.m. ET
This matchup will determine just how much experience matters. Marquette is led by two seniors, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, who combined for 34 points in last round’s win over Murray State. But Florida will have the most highly touted player on the floor, freshman guard Bradley Beal.
South Region (Atlanta)
(1) Kentucky vs. (4) Indiana
Friday, 9:45 p.m.ET
Christian Watford hit a three-pointer at the buzzer when these teams met in December, handing Kentucky its lone loss of the regular season. Can the Hoosiers stay close without the benefit of a frenzied home crowd?
(3) Baylor vs. (10) Xavier
Friday, 7:15 p.m. ET
Brady Heslip, from Burlington, Ont., drilled nine three-pointers in Baylor’s win over Colorado in the third round. He is shooting 56% from long range in the Bears’ last five games. Can he keep it up?
Midwest Region (St. Louis)
(1) North Carolinavs. (13) Ohio
Friday, 7:47 p.m. ET
If the Tar Heels are without starting point guard Kendall Marshall, who fractured his right wrist against Creighton, they will have to turn to freshman Stilman White or senior Justin Watts to run the team. Both players rarely see floor time, leaving North Carolina susceptible to sloppy play.
Pick: North Carolina
(2) Kansas vs. (11) North Carolina State
Friday, 10:17 p.m. ET
The Jayhawks boast a scoring power forward in Thomas Robinson and a defensive-minded centre in Jeff Withey. Wolfpack big men Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie, both foul prone, will need to stay on the court to give their team any chance at concocting a third straight upset.