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.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.