Will the Orange crumble? East Regional Sweet 16 preview
No. 1 Syracuse Orange vs. No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers, East Regional from the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Thursday, March 22, 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS
How they got here:
Second Round: No. 1 Syracuse defeated No. 16 UNC-Asheville, 72-65.
Third Round: No. 1 Syracuse defeated No. 8 Kansas State, 75-59.
Second Round: No. 4 Wisconsin defeated No. 13 Montana, 73-49.
Third Round: No. 4 Wisconsin defeated No. 5 Vanderbilt, 60-57.
The Orange (33-2) have overcome quite a bit this year, so who's to say they won't beat the Badgers? After a tremendous regular season on the court that saw Syracuse fall just once prior to the Big East Tournament, the Orange quickly got discounted when star center Fab Melo was ruled ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. Lots of people said they weren't even the favorites in the East Regional anymore. However, this is the same Syracuse squad that was seemingly unaffected by molestation allegations against their former assistant coach Bernie Fine and self-reported violations of their drug program.
Clearly, Jim Boeheim's team knows how to handle adversity--that is how the Orange survived a controversial opening round game with UNC-Asheville, in which Syracuse won despite trailing for most of the game. The Orange bounced back well in their second game, pulling away in the second half against Kansas State.
Wisconsin (26-9) handled Montana easily in the opening round and then staved off a very hot Vanderbilt team in the Round of 32 to advance to the Sweet 16.
Expect this game to be quite low-scoring. The Badgers play some of the slowest basketball in the nation and both teams have stellar defenses, despite completely different styles. The Orange rely on Boeheim's patented 2-3 zone, while Wisconsin plays man-to-man defense 100 percent of the time.
This is a big game for Bo Ryan, who has brought great success to Madison, but has never taken the team to a Final Four. A win over Syracuse would put him in great position to achieve that goal.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats, East Regional from the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Thursday, March 22, 9:45 p.m. ET, CBS
How they got here:
Second Round: No. 2 Ohio State defeated No. 15 Loyola (MD), 78-59.
Third Round: No. 2 Ohio State defeated No. 7 Gonzaga, 73-66.
Second Round: No. 6 Cincinnati defeated No. 11 Texas, 65-59.
Third Round: No. 6 Cincinnati defeated No. 3 Florida State, 62-56.
The Buckeyes (29-7) have one of the nation's best players in Jared Sullinger, but in their second-round win over Loyola (MD), it was Deshaun Thomas who stole the show with 31 points and 12 rebounds. In the Third Round, Ohio State fought off a pesky Gonzaga team to advance to the Sweet 16.
Cincinnati (26-10) is the lone surprise in the East Regional's Sweet 16. The Bearcats upset arguably the hottest team in the country, Florida State, in the third round to earn the right to take on the Buckeyes. Cincinnati is pretty hot in its own right too. The Bearcats, thanks to some very good defense, made a run to the Big East Tournament title game after upsetting Syracuse in the semifinals. No doubt the Orange would love to see a rematch in the Regional Final.
This battle between the Bearcats and the Buckeyes pits two of the four Ohio-based teams remaining in the tournament against one another. Despite their close proximity, Ohio State and Cincinnati did not play one another this season.