(1) Indiana vs. (4) Syracuse
(1) Indiana Hoosiers
The Hoosiers received a firsthand lesson on just how good Khalif Wyatt is, but ultimately Victor Oladipo was the best player on the floor and he was able to lead his team to a 58-52 victory over Wyatt’s Owls. Oladipo scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and hit a crucial late three to help seal the deal on the Hoosiers’ trip to the Sweet 16. He also played great defense on Wyatt in the game’s final moments. The Owls made life difficult for Cody Zeller, who had just as many turnovers (6) as rebounds and less makes (4) from the field. The Hoosiers lost Jordan Hulls for a stretch, but he was able to return after suffering a shoulder injury. In the Sweet 16 the Hoosiers will take on a Syracuse team with a variety of options offensively and a 2-3 zone defense that has been particularly difficult to score against this season. Attacking it properly and not settling for long range jumpers will be the first key to success for the Hoosiers. If Zeller can bounce back with a big game, they’ll continue dancing into the Elite Eight.
(4) Syracuse Orange
Very few teams live to say they survived a 12-minute scoreless stretch in the NCAA Tournament, but the Orange is in that select company. They were able to withstand a late comeback attempt from the Golden Bears and move onto the Sweet 16 with a 66-60 victory. The Orange were greatly aided by their 41 trips to the free throw line. Even though they only made 26, that still gave them 14 more makes than the Golden Bears and seven more makes than the Bears had attempts. C.J. Fair and James Southerland were very effective, combining to score 32 points, grab 15 rebounds and tally six steals. The Orange forced 17 turnovers as a team and only allowed the Golden Bears 22 made field goals on 56 attempts. The Orange will be going up against a Hoosiers team that is much more equipped to attack their zone defense. They’ll have to know where the shooters are at all times, keep Zeller off of the offensive boards and try to keep Oladipo from wrecking havoc in the interior as well.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Indiana. The Hoosiers will work the weak spots in the Orange’s 2-3 zone defense and move onto the Elite Eight.