(2) Miami vs. (7) Illinois
(2) Miami (Fl.) Hurricanes
The Hurricanes may not have been a one seed in the eyes of the tournament committee, but they definitely played like one in their opening game against Pacific. They held the Tigers to 19 first half points and earned a spot in the Round of 32 with a 78-49 win. It was the backcourt of Shane Larkin and Durand Scott who did the heavy lifting in this game as Scott scored a game-high 21 while Larkin handed out nine assists. The Hurricanes were a +12 on the boards and held the Tigers to 33 percent shooting from the field and 34 percent from deep. To get past the Fighting Illini, they’ll have to contain them out on the perimeter and make sure every shot is contested. On the other end of the court, the Hurricanes should look to establish their big men early.
(7) Illinois Fighting Illini
In a game of runs that featured several major momentum swings, the Fighting Illini held the Colorado Buffaloes to one field goal in the final 5:50 en route to earning a 57-49 victory. Brandon Paul came on strong late, scoring 10 of his 17 in the final 6:16. This was not the Fighting Illini’s best shooting performance as they shot just 25 percent from distance, but they showed no hesitancy to get them up as they shot 31 total threes in the game. Luckily their defense held strong, limiting the Buffaloes to just 17 field goals while forcing 15 turnovers. The Hurricanes are a tough match-up, as they also have great guard play and an advantage in the interior. To take the spot in the Sweet 16, they’ll have to be on offensively and avoid the prolonged droughts that nearly led to their season coming to an end on Friday.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Miami (Fl.) The Hurricanes aren’t going to have same kind of cold spells the Buffaloes did.