Breaking down Sunday's matchups

Mike Huguenin
Yahoo! Sports


No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 7 Washington

SITE: Charlotte, N.C.

TIME: 12:15 p.m.


ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

THE SPREAD: North Carolina by 4

RECORDS: North Carolina 27-7, Washington 24-10

HOW THEY GOT HERE: North Carolina d. No. 15 Long Island 102-87; Washington d. No. 10 Georgia 68-65

ENROLLMENTS: North Carolina 27,700; Washington 42,000

KEY STAT: Washington hits 36.8 of its 3-pointers, while UNC shoots just 32.9 percent from beyond the arc.

THE BUZZ: Expect a frenetic, up-tempo game. Both want to run and both will be quite comfortable if the game is in the 80s. Both teams can be lax on defense, and that has to worry both coaches. Washington needs its big men, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye, to be physical and make some plays defensively. Washington PG Isaiah Thomas is one of the quickest players in the nation, and he will try to attack UNC's guards and get into the lane; if that happens consistently, the Tar Heels are in trouble. UNC has played defense in fits and starts of late, and that can't happen against the Huskies.

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 George Mason

SITE: Cleveland

TIME: 5:15 p.m.


ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

THE SPREAD: Ohio State by 11

RECORDS: Ohio State 33-2, George Mason 27-6

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Ohio State d. No. 16 UT San Antonio 75-46

ENROLLMENTS: Ohio State 53,715; George Mason 32,067

KEY STAT: Both shoot the ball well. Ohio State is at 49.5 percent from the floor (second nationally), while Mason is at 47.2 percent (22nd).

THE BUZZ: If Mason is hot from beyond the arc, this will be an interesting game. The Patriots are going to have trouble with J.J. Sullinger (who doesn't have trouble with him?), but they have a chance to make things difficult for the Buckeyes' perimeter players. Mason is athletic and has relatively good size on the perimeter. One issue for Mason could be foul trouble; the Patriots have just six players who average more than 10 minutes. Mason especially has to have F Mike Morrison avoid foul trouble; he's the only true big man who sees time. Keep an eye on Mason G Cam Long, the Patriots' best player. He hits 42.1 percent of his 3-point attempts and has to be hot from beyond the arc if Mason is to pull the big upset.

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Marquette

SITE: Cleveland

TIME: 7:45 p.m.

TV: truTV

ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

THE SPREAD: Syracuse by 5

RECORDS: Syracuse 27-7, Marquette 21-14

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Syracuse d. No. 14 Indiana State 77-60; Marquette d. No. 6 Xavier 66-55

ENROLLMENTS: Syracuse 13,040; Marquette 11,689

KEY STAT: Syracuse opponents hit just 39.4 percent of their field-goal attempts; that's the 12th-best field-goal percentage defense in the nation.

THE BUZZ: This is one of two all-Big East third-rounders (UConn played Cincinnati on Saturday). Marquette won the lone regular-season meeting, by eight at home on Jan. 29. While Syracuse's defense generally has been excellent this season, the Orange have had a couple of defensive stinkers. One came in the loss to Marquette, when the Golden Eagles shot 52.3 percent overall and a sizzling 46.2 percent from 3-point range. (Syracuse lost despite shooting 57.1 percent that day.) Marquette usually isn't close to that efficient from 3-point range, as the Golden Eagles hit 35.4 percent from beyond the arc. You'd figure if the Orange can play better defense this time, they will win as their big guys should have success in the paint against a smallish Marquette frontcourt. Marquette has to get a big offensive game from either swingman Jimmy Butler or G Darius Johnson-Odom if it's to beat Syracuse for a second time this season.


No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 11 VCU

SITE: Chicago

TIME: 7:10 p.m.


ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes play-by-play, Bob Wenzel analyst

THE SPREAD: Purdue by 9

RECORDS: Purdue 26-7, VCU 25-11

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Purdue d. No. 14 Saint Peter's 65-43; VCU d. USC 59-46 in a play-in game, d. No. 6 Georgetown 74-56

ENROLLMENTS: Purdue 39,726; VCU 32,000

KEY STAT: VCU gets outrebounded by 3.4 per game.

THE BUZZ: VCU's defense has been excellent in the tourney. In a play-in game, the Rams shut down frontcourt-oriented USC; in the second round, they shut down backcourt-oriented Georgetown. Purdue, though, has a big-time scorer in the frontcourt (F JaJuan Johnson) and in the backcourt (G E'Twaun Moore). Johnson should be able to take advantage of VCU's lack of size and could have a huge game on the boards. But Purdue doesn't have anyone else of note in its frontcourt. Purdue's tough perimeter defense will be tested by a Rams team that can get hot from beyond the arc. The Boilermakers also need to keep VCU PG Joey Rodriguez from getting into the lane.

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Illinois

SITE: Tulsa, Okla.

TIME: 8:40 p.m.


ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analyst

THE SPREAD: Kansas by 8.5

RECORDS: Kansas 33-2, Illinois 20-13

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Kansas d. No. 16 Boston U. 72-53; Illinois d. No. 8 UNLV 73-62

ENROLLMENTS: Kansas 30,102; Illinois 41,198

KEY STAT: Illinois hits 39.0 percent of its 3-pointers, but Kansas' opponents have shot just 29.7 percent from beyond the arc.

THE BUZZ: Illinois played one of its best games in hammering UNLV in the first round; the final score was not indicative of how much the Illini dominated. The Illini have the athleticism and experience to hang with Kansas, but Illinois hasn't always played with intensity this season. A huge key is Illini PG Demetri McCamey; he has to have a good all-around game - as a scorer, passer and defender - if Illinois is going to have a shot at the upset. Kansas' Morris twins generally are far more physical than Illinois big men Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis, and that bears watching. Indeed, Tisdale and Davis often play soft, and if that is the case in this one, KU's big men are going to have huge games.

No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 10 Florida State

SITE: Chicago

TIME: 9:40 p.m.


ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes play-by-play, Bob Wenzel analyst

THE SPREAD: Notre Dame by 5

RECORDS: Notre Dame 27-6, Florida State 22-10

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Notre Dame d. No. 15 No. 15 Akron 69-56; FSU d. No. 7 Texas A&M 57-50

ENROLLMENTS: Notre Dame 11,733; Florida State 40,255

KEY STAT: Florida State leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense, allowing foes to hit just 36.2 percent of their shots.

THE BUZZ: While FSU plays lockdown defense, the Seminoles have lost 10 times and that's because they aren't that good offensively. While Notre Dame gets noticed because of its offense, the Irish have played solid defense all season and their foes shoot just 40.7 percent from the field. That means the onus is on FSU's defenders, especially on the perimeter, to clamp down on the Irish's numerous offensive threats. Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis are big-time 3-point threats, but the key guy might be F Carleton Scott, who needs to be effective in the low post against a big Seminoles frontcourt. FSU is extremely sloppy with the ball, committing 16.0 turnovers per game,. But the Irish force just 10.3, so FSU's ballhandling might not be as big a deal as it could be.


No. 1 Duke vs. No. 8 Michigan

SITE: Charlotte, N.C.

TIME: 2:45 p.m.


ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

THE SPREAD: Duke by 11.5

RECORDS: Duke 31-4, Michigan 21-13

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Duke d. No. 16 Hampton 87-45; Michigan d. No. 9 Tennessee 75-45

ENROLLMENTS: Duke 6,400; Michigan 39,980

KEY STAT: Duke outscores foes by an average of 17.5 points per game.

THE BUZZ: G Kyrie Irving's return is big for Duke. He's the most talented player on the roster, and if he shows he's at or close to 100 percent, Michigan is in trouble. The Wolverines are small up front, which means Duke's Kyle Singler and the Plumlee twins should have a lot of success in the paint. Michigan has to be hot from 3-point range to make this interesting, but Duke allows foes to hit just 31.6 percent from beyond the arc. The Blue Devils grab 12.2 offensive rebounds per game, and that is something that should worry the Wolverines.

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 5 Arizona

SITE: Tulsa, Okla.

TIME: 6:10 p.m.


ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analyst

THE SPREAD: Texas by 5.5

RECORDS: Texas 28-7, Arizona 28-7

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Texas d. No. 13 Oakland 85-79; Arizona d. No. 12 Memphis 77-75

ENROLLMENTS: Texas 48,167; Arizona 38,800

KEY STAT: Arizona hits 75.0 percent of its free throws (28th nationally); Texas is at just 65.0 percent (292nd).

THE BUZZ: While Arizona enjoys a decided advantage from the line, the Wildcats often are spotty on defense and Texas must take advantage. Arizona F Derrick Williams is a big-time presence in the paint, and the Wildcats have been effective hitting the 3-pointer when opposing defenses sag on Williams. But while Arizona hits 39.6 percent of its shots from beyond the arc, Texas has held opponents to just 28.8 percent from 3-point range. Expect Texas to use a few different defenders on Williams, but figure Longhorns freshman Tristan Thompson to get most of the action. Thompson also will be important on the offensive boards, where Texas has been strong this season. Texas senior G Dogus Balbay provides no offense, but his defense could cause problems for Arizona.