A look at Thursday's regional semifinals
2. Miami (29-6) vs. 3. Marquette (25-8): Miami will be missing center Reggie Johnson and that could open the lane for Marquette’s heavy big man Davonte “Twinkle Toes” Gardner, who’s a load in the paint and someone who makes his free throws. Johnson could have matched up with him. Now the Hurricanes will have to figure something else out. The guard matchup, Miami’s Shane Larkin and Marquette’s Van Blue, should be highly competitive and it could decide the game. Both of these teams have won their share of close ones. Johnson’s absence will be felt.
1. Indiana (29-6) vs. 4. Syracuse (28-9): The Hoosiers were taken to the limit by Temple; Syracuse advanced through two games easily. The Orange are supremely talented, especially forward C.J. Fair, but they’ve been inconsistent at times. Indiana’s weakness is depth, but what the Hoosiers have is great balance and smart play. Syracuse’s 2-3 zone has been known to baffle opponents, but Indiana has both the smarts and skill to combat it. The Hoosiers will also want to push the pace.
6. Arizona (27-7) vs. 2. Ohio State (28-7): Arizona has been stupendous in routing Belmont and Harvard in its first two games. Ohio State took care of Iona fairly easily, but then needed a controversial call to escape from Iowa State in its second game. The big matchup in this game is Arizona’s high-scoring guard Mark Lyons vs. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, perhaps the best individual defender in the tournament. If Craft can knock Lyons off his game, the Buckeyes will be well on their way to victory.
9. Wichita State (28-8) vs. 13. LaSalle (24-9): Which underdog do you like? Wichita State was unworldly in upsetting No. 1 seed Gonzaga, but it took seven straight three-pointers in the second half to do it. The Wheat Shockers are a physical team that likes to keep things contained in the half-court on both ends. LaSalle will play four guards, and penetrating with the dribble and finding open shooters is how it succeeds. It will come down to who will dictate the pace. If LaSalle’s guards can get rolling, Wichita might not be able to keep up. If Wichita turns this into a physical confrontation, the Shockers will win.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell