Hoosiers, Irish ready for Sweet 16 opponents

Hoosiers, Irish ready for Sweet 16 opponents

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Indiana and Notre Dame will try to extend their seasons tonight as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament continues with regional action at two locations.

The No. 5 seed Hoosiers don’t play until 9:57 p.m. when IU (27-7) will try to knock off No. 1 seed North Carolina (30-6) in a much-anticipated East Region game at Philadelphia. Notre Dame (23-11), a 6th seed, and No. 7 seed Wisconsin (22-12) play the first game in Philadelphia, tipping off at 7:27 p.m. Both East Region contests can be seen on TBS.

In Midwest Region play at Chicago, No. 4 seed Iowa State will try to get past No. 1 seed Virginia in the first game (7:10 p.m.), with No. 10 seed Syracuse and No. 11 Gonzaga going at it in Game 2 (9:40 p.m.). Both games will be broadcast on CBS.

The ‘City of Brotherly Love’ has been extremely kind to Indiana in NCAA tournament play, something coach Tom Crean and his players hope continues.

IU 1976 Champs May Buckner Knight AP photo
IU coach Bob Knight and players Scott May and Quinn Buckner celebrate the Hoosiers’ 1976 NCAA championship and perfect 32-0 season (AP photo)

IU made its way through two NCAA Finals played in Philly, with national championships the results — including the 1976 juggernaut squad coached by Bob Knight, which finished 32-0, the last college basketball team to run the table on a season.

The 1981 Hoosiers, led by Isiah Thomas, Ray Tolbert and Landon Turner, also cut down the nets in The Spectrum after beating — ironically while shrouded in déjà vu — the North Carolina Tar Heels, 63-50, whose stars were James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Al Wood.

Check out information about all of the teams playing tonight, as well as game previews and thumbnail reports from NCAA.com.

No. 5 Indiana vs No. 1 North Carolina

 

IU Basketball logo - 2013The fifth-seeded Hoosiers blew past Chattanooga and took down No. 4 seed Kentucky in impressive fashion, but now have to get past top-seeded North Carolina to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight. The Tar Heels have taken down Florida Gulf Coast and Providence by double-digit margins thus far in the NCAA Tournament.

Players to watch: Yogi Ferrell leads Indiana with 17 points and 5.5 assists per game. He’s averaging 34.6 minutes per game, and shooting 45.9 percent from the field. Brice Johnson led North Carolina with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 10 rebounds in the Round of 32 win over Providence. Johnson is the team’s leading scorer on the season.

North Carolina logoKey stats: Indiana leads the series with North Carolina 8-5, dating back to the 1949-50 season. The Hoosiers have won seven of their last eight games, with a loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament being the sole setback in that span. Indiana has reached the NCAA Tournament in four of the last five seasons as part of a turnaround under head coach Tom Crean; the team was just 6-25 in his first season back in 2008-09. The Tar Heels have won seven straight games, and nine of their last 10. North Carolina ranks 12th in the nation in scoring offense with 82.3 points per game, The Tar Heels are allowing just 69.6 points per game. Just three Division I teams are averaging more assists per game than North Carolina’s 18.1. The Tar Heels have 30 wins this season, and haven’t won fewer than 20 since 2003-04 — the first season under current head coach Roy Williams.

 

No. 6 Notre Dame vs  No. 7 Wisconsin

 

notre dame basketball logo 2 - 2014After starting head coach Greg Gard’s tenure with a 2-4 record, the Badgers have gone 13- in the last 16 games and are on the cusp of possibly returning to a second National Title game in a row. Standing in their way first in the Sweet 16 is No. 6 seed Notre Dame, which needed a last-second tip-in to defeat No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin.

Players to watch: Bronson Koenig hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the final 12 seconds, including one at the buzzer from the right corner to send the Badgers to an improbable victory in the Round of 32 over No. 2 seed Xavier. Koenig finished with 20 points on 6-of-12 3-point shooting. Zach Auguste had 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds in the narrow Round of 32 win for the Fighting Irish over Stephen F. Austin. Auguste played 31 minutes and was 8-of-9 from the field.

Wisconsin Badgers logoKey stats: The Badgers have been defensively stout, ranking 26th in the nation with just 64.6 points per game allowed. Wisconsin ranks 267th in the country in scoring offense, averaging just 68.9 points per game. Outside of Koenig’s two late 3-point makes, the Badgers were just 6-of-27 (22.2 percent) from beyond the arc against the Musketeers. This marks the sixth season in the last seven that Notre Dame has played in the NCAA Tournament, and eighth in the last 10 — all under head coach Mike Brey. Notre Dame has won four of its last five games, including an upset win over Duke in the ACC Tournament. Rex Pflueger’s tip-in with under 2 seconds left helped Notre Dame escape the Round of 32 with a win over the Lumberjacks; they were Pflueger’s only points of the game, and he’s averaging just 2.5 points per game this season.

 

No. 1 Virginia vs No. 4 Iowa State

 

Virginia basketball logoNo. 1 Virginia will meet No. 4 Iowa State for a trip to the regional final of the NCAA Tournament. Neither team has reached the Elite Eight in more than a decade.

Players to watch: Cyclones forward Georges Niang led the way with 28 points on Saturday, hitting 11-of-18 field goals including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. He added six rebounds and three assists. ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon paced the Cavaliers with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists on Saturday. The guard shot 8-for-14 from the field and has scored 20 points in 18 games this season.

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Key stats: Virginia is vying for its first Elite Eight appearance since 1995. The Cavaliers have reached the Elite Eight five times in program history, Virginia, which has not advanced to the Final Four since 1984, is 11-4 as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa State basketball logoVirginia is 26-5 when holding opponents to fewer than 70 points. Iowa State hasn’t reached an Elite Eight since 2000. The Cyclones have reached the Sweet 16 five times. Iowa State shot 56.6 percent from the field, and hit 11-of-21 3-point shots against the Trojans. Iowa State guard Matt Thomas scored 16 points, hitting 4-of-8 3-point shots, while also chipping in four rebounds, four assists and two steals on Saturday.

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No. 11 Gonzaga vs No. 10 Syracuse

 

Gonzaga basketball logoNo. 11-seed Gonzaga beat No. 6 Seton Hall and No. 3 Utah to clinch its spot in the Sweet 16. The Bulldogs will meet No. 10-seed Syracuse, which beat No. 7 Dayton and No. 15 Middle Tennessee for its berth. The winner advances to the Elite Eight.

Players to watch: Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis compiled his second double-double of the tournament on Saturday, hitting 8-of-12 field goals to finish with 19 points and 10 rebounds while adding three assists and two steals. Syracuse guard Michael Gbinije led the team with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting against Middle Tennessee on Sunday. He averages 17.8 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting.

Syracuse basketball logoKey stats: Gonzaga has been to the Sweet 16 seven times in program history. The Bulldogs last advanced to the Elite Eight last season; it was their second trip and first since 1999. Bulldogs guard Eric McClellan led all scorers with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting on Saturday against Utah. Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer averages a team-high 20.4 points per game. The Orange have reached the Sweet 16 on 22 occasions. Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon blocked six shots, and added 10 points and seven rebounds on Sunday. Syracuse hit 55.1 percent (27-of-49) from the floor on Sunday.

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