Temple v Indiana

Sweet 16 Resets: The East Region


On Thursday evening, the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 play will begin, meaning we’ll be four days away from finding out who the four teams are that will be playing for the national title in Atlanta. And in case you spent the past four days living under a rock or on a really, really long flight that didn’t have WiFi, here’s what you missed in the East Region.

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WHERE: Verizon Center, Washington DC

WHEN: Thursday

WHAT HAPPENED?: Well, chalk happened. The East Region ended up being the only region where all of the top four seeds advanced to the Sweet 16. It wasn’t without excitement, however. No. 1 Indiana nearly got picked off by No. 9 Temple and Khalif Wyatt’s 31 points. No. 2 Miami needed a ridiculous step-back three from Shane Larkin and a questionable out of bounds call to get past No. 7 Illinois. No. 3 Marquette not only needed Butler Magic to fail in the round of 32, they pulled their own version of Marquette Magic to get past Davidson in the opening round. Believe it or not, No. 4 seed Syracuse had the easiest path to the DC, beating No. 13 Montana and No. 12 Cal in the first two rounds.

FAVORITE: Indiana Hoosiers

At this point, it has to be the Indiana Hoosiers, as they spent much of the season as the No. 1 team in the country, won the brutal Big Ten outright and have two all-americans on their roster. It also just so happens that Indiana matches up well with all three teams in the region. That said, they matched up well with Temple, and the Owls were a possession or two away from pulling off the upset.

KEY PLAYER: Victor Oladipo, Indiana

Syracuse’s most important player is 6-foot-6 point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Miami’s most important player is point guard Shane Larkin. Marquette’s most important player is off-guard Vander Blue. Victor Oladipo is arguably the best on-ball defender in the country. He’ll draw the key matchup in every game.

WHY AN UNDERDOG WILL WIN: I’m not even sure there is an underdog in this region, to be honest with you. But if there is, it is probably No. 4 seed Syracuse. For them to win, they are going to need their zone to be creating turnovers and getting out on shooters, and they are going to need Carter-Williams to play the way he did back in December, not the way he did in February. Throw in some consistent shooting from James Southerland and Brandon Triche, and the Orange may have a chance.


How they got here: Beat No. 16 James Madison 83-62 and No. 9 Temple 58-52.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 4 Syracuse, 9:45 p.m. ET CBS
How they got here: Beat No. 15 Pacific 78-49 and No. 7 Illinois 63-59.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2000
Next up: No. 3 Marquette, 7:15 p.m. ET CBS
How they got here: Beat No. 14 Davidson 59-58 and No. 6 Butler 74-72.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 2 Miami, 7:15 p.m. ET CBS
How they got here: Beat No. 13 Montana 81-34 and No. 12 Cal 66-60.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 1 Indiana, 9:45 p.m. ET CBS

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.