(3)Syracuse vs. (11)Marquette
After losing six of eight games in the heart of the Big East schedule, the Syracuse Orangemen have played their best basketball of the season, winning seven of their last eight games, including a second round meeting with Indiana State in the East Regional. Forwards rick Jackson and Kris Joseph combined to for 35 points and 17 rebounds as ‘Cuse sent the Sycamores packing. Junior guard Scoop Jardine hit 3-4 three-point shots and dished out nine assists for Coach Jim Boeheim’s team, which was on the offensive throughout the game, getting to the free throw line 31 times in the victory. Reserve forward C.J. Fair had 14 points and seven rebounds and the renowned Orange zone defense held Indiana State to just 40 percent shooting from the field.
(11)Marquette Golden Eagles
Jimmy Butler and Marquette did a fantastic job of shutting down one of the country’s most explosive players, Tu Holloway (who led the nation with two triple-doubles this season), en route to a second round victory of Xavier on Friday. The Golden Eagles limited Xavier to just 55 points, more than 17 fewer than its season average, and held the Musketeers to just .412 (21-51) shooting and allowing them to hit just 2-13 (.154) three-point shots. Butler showed off his steadily improving all-around game, scoring 15 points, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out four assists and coming up with three steals in the win. Marquette has struggled with consistency all year long, but if it can lock in defensively in the next round like it did against Xavier, this will be a dangerous squad against a Syracuse team that is looking to avenge its 76-70 loss to Marquette on Jan. 29.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Syracuse. Look for the Orangemen to dominate the boards and dare Marquette to shoot the three-ball while slowing down the Golden Eagles’ explosive offense with the famed Syracuse 2-3 zone.