Breaking down Friday's matchups

Mike Huguenin
Yahoo! Sports

East Region

No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 11 Marquette

WHERE: Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
TIME: 7:15 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst
ENROLLMENTS: North Carolina 27,700; Marquette 11,689
RECORDS: UNC 28-7, Marquette 22-14
HOW THEY GOT HERE: North Carolina d. No. 15 Long Island 102-87, d. No. 7 Washington 86-83; Marquette d. No. 6 Xavier 66-55, d. No. 3 Syracuse 66-62
KEY STAT: UNC outrebounds opponents by 6.5 per game and ranks 12th nationally in offensive rebounds at 14.1 per game.
THE BUZZ: Marquette has controlled tempo in its two NCAA wins, and that will be vital against North Carolina. The Heels want to run and get the point total into at least the high 70s. But Marquette doesn't have the firepower to hang with UNC, though the Heels' sometimes-lax approach on defense should help the Golden Eagles. Marquette needs production from its "Big Three" of Jimmy Butler, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder; Butler, in particular, could have success because of his well-rounded offensive game. Marquette outrebounded a bigger Syracuse team in its most recent game, and the Golden Eagles have to stay close in that regard against the Heels. Look for Marquette coach Buzz Williams to use three defenders on UNC PG Kendall Marshall in an effort to wear him down. If Marshall can play "unencumbered," UNC is going to roll.
THE KEY INDIVIDUAL: Butler is Marquette's best player, and he has to show it against the Tar Heels. He has a nice all-around offensive game and is going to have to score inside and outside in this game. He leads Marquette in points, and is second in rebounds and steals and fourth in assists.

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Kentucky

WHERE: Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
TIME: 9:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst
THE SPREAD: Ohio State by 6
ENROLLMENTS: Ohio State 53,715; Kentucky 27,000
RECORDS: Ohio State 34-2, Kentucky 27-8
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Ohio State d. No. 16 UT San Antonio 75-46, d. No. 8 George Mason 98-66; Kentucky d. No. 13 Princeton 59-57, d. No. 5 West Virginia 71-63
KEY STAT: Ohio State shoots 49.2 percent from the field, second in the nation, and 42.4 percent from 3-point range.
THE BUZZ: Ohio State absolutely eviscerated a solid George Mason team to reach the Sweet 16. The Buckeyes have perhaps the nation's best low-post presence in freshman C Jared Sullinger, a dead-eye outside shooter in senior G Jon Diebler (he has hit 50 percent of his 220 3-point attempts), two excellent swingmen in William Buford and David Lighty and a big-time shot-blocker in Dallas Lauderdale. Freshman Aaron Craft has a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, too. Ohio State doesn't have the deepest bench, but it's deeper than Kentucky's, which really doesn't want to play more than six guys. UK has to get big games from big men Terrence Jones and, especially, Josh Harrellson. The Wildcats' 3-point shooting has been solid all season, and UK needs Brandon Knight, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb to get hot from beyond the arc.
THE KEY INDIVIDUAL: Harrellson has been a huge surprise this season and leads the SEC in rebounding; he has been incredibly effective on the offensive boards. But he's not the most athletic guy, and how will he cope against Sullinger? If he's on the bench for extended minutes, UK is in trouble. Jones is a good rebounder but lacks the bulk to bang with Sullinger and Lauderdale, and the best big man off the bench is Eloy Vargas, whom Sullinger would destroy.

Southwest Region

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 12 Richmond

WHERE: Alamodome, San Antonio
TIME: 7:27 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analysis
THE SPREAD: Kansas by 10.5
ENROLLMENTS: Kansas 30,102; Richmond 2,750
RECORDS: Kansas 34-2, Richmond 29-7
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Kansas d. No. 16 Boston U. 72-53, d. No. 9 Illinois 73-59; Richmond d. No. 5 Vanderbilt 69-66, d. No. 13 Morehead State 65-48
KEY STAT: Kansas outrebounds opponents by 7.9 per game, and Richmond is outrebounded by 1.9 per game.
THE BUZZ: Richmond's lack of bulk is going to hurt against a talented and physical Kansas frontcourt. Spiders F Justin Harper was the Atlantic 10 player of the year, but while he averages 6.9 rebounds per game, he's more effective outside the paint on offense. Senior G Kevin Anderson is a good offensive player for the Spiders, and he needs to be on target from beyond the arc if Richmond is going to hang with the Jayhawks. He hits 42.3 percent from 3-point range and should be able to get off his shot against KU's guards. Harper, F Dan Geriot and G Darien Brothers also are 3-point threats, and each should get some open looks in the Spiders' Princeton-style offense. It's on the other end of the court, though, where the Spiders are going to have issues. The Morris twins and Thomas Robinson should own the paint.
THE KEY INDIVIDUALS: Reserve Darrius Garrett likely will see more minutes than usual for Richmond (he averages 12.8 per game). He lacks bulk (6-9/210), but he's a gifted shot-blocker who has the potential to cause some problems for KU's big men. Any offense would be a miracle (he barely averages more points - 1.9 - than blocks - 1.6), but he can rebound, run the floor and play defense.

No. 10 Florida State vs. No. 11 VCU

WHERE: Alamodome, San Antonio
TIME: 9:57 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analysis
ENROLLMENTS: Florida State 40,255; VCU 32,000
RECORDS: FSU 23-10, VCU 26-11
HOW THEY GOT HERE: FSU d. No. 7 Texas A&M 57-50, d. No. 2 Notre Dame 71-57; VCU d. USC 59-46 in play-in game, d. No. 6 Georgetown 74-56, d. No. 3 Purdue 94-76
KEY STAT: FSU leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 36.0 percent from the field.
THE BUZZ: VCU is the first team in history to have won three games to get to the Sweet 16, as the Rams pulled away late to down USC in one of the play-in games. VCU has shut down a frontcourt-oriented team (USC), a backcourt-oriented team (Georgetown) and a solid all-around offensive team (Purdue) in getting here. But FSU is more than VCU's match defensively, and the Seminoles' size is going to cause problems for the smallish Rams. Still, VCU's defensive pressure is going to bother FSU, which averages 15.9 turnovers per game. Forcing turnovers and scoring in transition is a must for VCU because the Rams are going to have trouble with FSU's size and physically nature when running their halfcourt offense. VCU relies heavily on the 3-pointer and has three players who are dangerous from beyond the arc in PG Joey Rodriguez (who also is quick and can get into the lane), swingman Bradford Burgess and reserve G Brandon Rozzell. FSU is mediocre from beyond the arc, but the Seminoles should have success in the low post against VCU. FSU has 108 more turnovers than assists and must take good care of the ball; VCU needs to find a way to force turnovers by FSU Gs Derwin Kitchen and Luke Loucks.
THE KEY INDIVIDUAL: VCU senior F Jamie Skeen, who began his career at Wake Forest (this will be his fourth game against FSU), is the Rams' only low-post threat on offense. Skeen has 41 points and 16 rebounds in the three tourney games, and he has to be more productive on the boards against FSU. He has fouled out of just one game this season and must stay out of foul trouble in this one.

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