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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Sports

Sweet 16 offers great matchups


The first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament were all-chalk as the highest seeds eliminated, Wake Forest and Washington, were only No. 4 seeds.

This sets up a competitive and captivating Sweet 16 on Thursday.

The Sweet 16’s most intriguing matchups include Missouri-Memphis, Villanova-Duke and Syracuse-Oklahoma.’

Memphis vs. Missouri will be an amazing game since both teams are extremely athletic and fast, not to mention they like to run and apply full-court pressure on defense. Missouri, led by forward DeMarre Carroll, won its 30th game this season on Sunday by sneaking past sixth-seeded Marquette 83-79.’

The battle of the Tigers will come down to which team has more legs at the end of the game. I like Memphis, led by superstar guard Tyreke Evans and head coach John Calipari, to beat an exciting Missouri team and extend its winning-streak to 28 games.

Guard play, and which team can make 3-pointers more efficiently, will be the key to victory when Villanova meets Duke on Thursday. Both teams have good perimeter shooters, including Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds and Duke’s Gerald Henderson. The coaching edge goes to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, but the real edge in this game goes to Villanova because of its balanced scoring and low-post presence.’

Duke has no answer for Dante Cunningham, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Wildcats’ 89-69 second round win over sixth-seeded UCLA. Duke relies too much on its outside shooting, and forwards Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek do not give the Blue Devils the low-post scoring needed to survive the Wildcats’ balanced attack. ‘

The Syracuse-Oklahoma matchup will come down to who can make big shots down the stretch. Player of the Year front-runner Blake Griffin will have to carry the Sooners against a very active Syracuse two-three zone. Griffin must touch the ball on every possession and get to the free-throw line against an Orange team that has only two true big men – Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson.

The difference in the game will rest on the play of Orange guards Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf, who combined for 33 points and 10 assists in the Orange’s 78-67 second-round win over sixth-seeded Arizona State. I like Syracuse to advance, winning a tight one over the slightly-favored Sooners.’


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