NCAA tournament Sweet 16 preview capsules

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FRIDAY’S GAMES
SOUTH REGION in Houston
No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 10 Saint Mary’s
TIME: 7:27 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst
THE LINE: Baylor by 4
RECORDS: Baylor 27-7, Saint Mary’s 28-5.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Baylor d. No. 14 Sam Houston State 68-59, d. No. 11 Old Dominion 76-68. Saint Mary’s d. No. 7 Richmond 80-71, d. No. 2 Villanova 75-68.
THE BUZZ: Saint Mary’s has exceptional size for a mid-major program, and the Gaels have beaten two guard-oriented teams to get this far. Baylor is guard-oriented, too, but the Bears also have excellent size with 7-foot Josh Lomers, 6-10 Ekpe Udoh and 6-10 Anthony Jones. Saint Mary’s almost certainly will have problems dealing with 6-7 reserve forward Quincy Acy because of his athleticism. Gaels senior C Omar Samhan has been great in the tournament thus far. But, again, he hasn’t seen a good frontcourt yet. He is more athletic than he looks and has a wide variety of low-post moves. Senior Ben Allen, a 6-11 Australian, is a good rebounder, and his perimeter skills should pose problems for Baylor. Saint Mary’s guards Mickey McConnell and Matt Dellavedova have handled themselves well thus far, but face another big test in Baylor’s backcourt of Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn. The Gaels shoot almost 42 percent from 3-point range, and Baylor is around 39 percent. Both are good from the line, with Saint Mary’s bordering on exceptional (76.2 percent). Neither team has much depth in the backcourt. One thing to keep an eye on: Despite the talented backcourt, Baylor can be sloppy with the ball and has just eight more assists than turnovers.
THE KEY INDIVIDUAL: Everyone knows Samhan has to play well if Saint Mary’s is to win. But the play of freshman combo guard Matthew Dellavedova is going to be just as important. Dellavedova, one of five Australians on the Gaels’ roster, has vast international experience, so he’s not the typical 18-year-old. He has good size (6-4/190) and must be physical defensively. He also needs to hit some 3-pointers and make some forays to the basket when he seeks out contact; he has made almost 88 percent of his free throws. He is one of four Gaels starters – all but Samhan – who shoot at least 80 percent from the line.

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Purdue
TIME: 9:57 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst
THE LINE: Duke by 8
RECORDS: Duke 31-5, Purdue 29-5.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Duke d. No. 16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 73-44, d. No. 8 California 68-53. Purdue d. No. 13 Siena 72-64, d. No. 5 Texas A&M 63-61 (OT).
THE BUZZ: Purdue was a trendy pick to fall in the first round, but the undermanned Boilermakers have gutted out two wins. They beat a defense-challenged Siena team in the first round and an offense-challenged A&M team in the second round. Purdue’s reward is a match with a well-rounded Duke team in the Sweet 16. Duke’s defense shut down a high-powered California attack, and unless the Boilermakers get a huge game from big man JaJuan Johnson, they have no shot at the upset. Still, expect the Boilermakers’ physical and aggressive defense to pose some problems for Duke’s backcourt. Duke is seeking its first Elite Eight appearance since 2004, which also is the last time the Blue Devils were in the Final Four.
THE KEY INDIVIDUAL: Purdue senior guard Chris Kramer was magnificent in the second round against Texas A&M, playing his usual superb defense and scoring 17 points on top of that. A 17-point outburst by Kramer is akin to the New Jersey Nets winning a game – it rarely happens. If Kramer is that sharp offensively again, Purdue will be in good shape. What is more likely to happen, though, is that Kramer’s defense again will come to the fore. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him guard, at various times, Duke’s Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith. Each has a distinctly different offensive game, but Kramer’s defensive skill set would enable him to feel confident against each of that trio.
MIDWEST REGIONAL In St. Louis
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Tennessee
TIME: 7:07 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Bill Raftery analyst
THE LINE: Ohio State by 4.5
RECORDS: Ohio State 29-7, Tennessee 27-8.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Ohio State d. No. 15 UC Santa Barbara 68-51, d. No. 10 Georgia Tech 75-66. Tennessee d. No. 11 San Diego State 62-59, d. No. 14 Ohio U. 83-68.
THE BUZZ: Ohio State runs a four-guard offense and lacks big men and depth. But Evan Turner’s presence masks a lot of deficiencies. He is the focal point of every opposing defense, but he still finds ways to control games. The Vols likely will use a variety of defenses on Turner, who commits almost 4.5 turnovers per game. Both teams will be content with a moderate pace. While Ohio State shoots 39 percent from 3-point range, the Vols struggle from beyond the arc, hitting 31.8 percent. That makes it vital that F Wayne Chism be productive in the low post for Tennessee. The Vols also struggle from the line (66.8 percent; the Buckeyes are a bit better at 69.4). This won’t be a thing of beauty, but it likely will be close and come down to the final few minutes.
THE KEY INDIVIDUAL: Tennessee struggles from 3-point territory, but the Vols’ chances for a win increase if Scotty Hopson is hot from beyond the arc. Hopson has a nice stroke, but he too often tosses up bricks from outside. Thing is, when his outside shot is falling, his all-around game flourishes because he has more confidence. He has enough ballhandling skills to get past defenders, and when his outside shot is falling, a shot fake can get him a lot of open mid-range looks.

No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 9 Northern Iowa
TIME: 9:37 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Bill Raftery analyst
THE LINE: Michigan State by 1
RECORDS: Michigan State 26-8, Northern Iowa 30-4.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Michigan State d. No. 12 New Mexico State 70-67, d. No. 4 Maryland 85-83. Northern Iowa d. No. 8 UNLV 69-66, d. No. 1 Kansas 69-67.
THE BUZZ: The Spartans are used to being here in March, but this is uncharted territory for Northern Iowa – which pulled the shocker of the tournament by ousting Kansas in the second round. UNI has good size for a mid-major team, and senior C Jordan Eglseder has a real shot to be productive in this game because of his size advantage over Michigan State’s big men. UNI is a physical group up front, with Adam Koch, Lucas O’Rear and Jake Koch also not afraid to throw their weight around. Michigan State’s Delvon Roe, Raymar Morgan and Draymond Green are physical, as well, but not nearly as big overall as UNI. Michigan State will be without star PG Kalin Lucas. His absence likely will make it easier for Northern Iowa to control the pace – which is vital for the Panthers. UNI wants to keep this one in the 60s and limit Michigan State in transition, which means doing a good job on the boards against a team that outrebounds foes by nine per game.
THE KEY INDIVIDUAL: Northern Iowa’s Kwadzo Ahelegbe is the point guard for a 30-win team, yet he has more turnovers than assists. He must take care of the ball against the Spartans, and he also needs to use his strength to get into the lane. Michigan State has proven susceptible to guards who can get into the lane. If Ahelegbe can do that consistently, UNI will be in great shape. He’s strong enough to finish at the rim and savvy enough to find open teammates.

Mike Huguenin is a Yahoo! Sports college sports editor. Send Mike a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Sunday, Mar 21, 2010