Sweet 16 Bracket: Breaking Down Best Matchups

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Sweet 16 Bracket: Breaking Down Best Matchups
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The stage for the Sweet 16 is finally set in the 2013 NCAA tournament, and after several surprises, this round should only provide even better games.

With a mix of top teams and Cinderellas, this year's March Madness has been one of the best in recent memory.

Which matchups will be the best going forward? Which games will have the country glued to the TV?

Let's break down the best matchups of the highly anticipated Sweet 16.

 

Indiana vs. Syracuse

Indiana takes on Syracuse for the first time in the NCAA tournament since the 1987 National Championship game, which Indiana won.

After cruising in its first game, Indiana pulled out a squeaker against Temple. Victor Oladipo was terrific in the win, scoring a team-high 16 points and hitting a clutch three to seal the victory.

Syracuse absolutely demolished Montana in the second round, winning by an incredible 47 points. They struggled a bit more in their third-round matchup against California, winning by just six and hitting just six baskets in the second half.

Indiana is a high-powered offensive team, scoring 80 points per game, which is third best in the nation. They shoot a remarkable 48.6 percent from the field, which is seventh in the country. Cody Zeller, averaging 16.7 points, and Oladipo, 13.6 points per game, led the way on offense. The team shoots 40 percent from three-point land.

Syracuse normally has a good offense, despite its poor performance against California. They average 71.3 points per game and shoot 44 percent from the field. C.J. Fair is their top scorer, averaging 14.4 points per game. He has 31 points over the first two games.

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This game will really come down to the performance of Oladipo and Fair. Arguably the two best players in this game, whoever wins this matchup will lead his team to victory.

Oladipo had the clutch three against Temple, but the normally stout defensive player struggled with Temple's Khalif Wyatt. Wyatt scored 31 points. That said, Oladipo and Indiana shut Wyatt down for the last 2:56, with the Hoosiers going on a 10-0 run.

Fair's defense, as well as Syracuse's defense as a whole, was incredible against California. Their suffocating zone held Cal stars Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs to a combined 5-of-18 shooting from the field.

If Oladipo can hit from three, which is the best way to beat the zone, Indiana has a chance. Oladipo shoots 43 percent from three. The more his three-point shot falls, the better chance the Hoosiers have.

If Fair can play like Wyatt, and if James Southerland, who's a better secondary scorer than any player Temple has, can contribute, then Indiana will have a tough time.

This is a pretty even matchup that will likely go down to the wire. Look for Indiana and Oladipo's three-point shooting to narrowly escape and head to the Elite Eight. 

 

Louisville vs. Oregon

As the No.1 overall seed, Louisville has dominated as expected, winning its two matchups by a combined 57 points. The Cardinals are incredibly hot, as they are 15-1 in their last 16 games, and that one loss was in a five-overtime thriller against Notre Dame. 

Oregon is ranked 12th, but that seeding seems a bit low after beating Oklahoma State and St. Louis by a combined 30 points. They are led by Damyean Dotson, who has 40 points over the first two games.

Despite its success, Oregon will have its hands full with Louisville. Russ Smith has scored 50 points over the first two games and has been terrific on both sides of the ball.

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This game will come down to who can win the rebounding battle. That favors Oregon, which is led by Arsalan Kazemi. Kazemi averages 10.2 rebounds per game, and has 33 through the first two games of the tournament. Louisville's Gorgui Dieng averages 9.5 rebounds per game, but he will have his hands full with Kazemi. If Oregon can bring down more boards, it will have the ball more often, and will be able to control the pace.

Also playing in Oregon's favor is the fact that Dominic Artis has established himself as a defensive stopper. He held highly regarded Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart to just 14 points in their second-round matchup. If Artis can provide that kind of defense on Russ Smith, then Oregon has a pretty good chance to pull off another upset.

It will be a close game. Oregon has the ability to pull off the upset, but only if it can control Russ Smith and win the battle on the boards. That's a lot of "ifs" and thus it's likely that Louisville will pull this one out in the end.

 

Ohio State vs. Arizona

No. 2 Ohio State vs No. 6 Arizona preview

Ohio State needed a late three from Aaron Craft to lift them into the Sweet 16, while Arizona has had two stress-free games against Belmont and Harvard.

Of course, that means nothing now. These are two good teams in what should be a good matchup.

Ohio State, after dominating Iona, really struggled against Iowa State in the third round. They had a 13 point lead late, but Craft's three won it. Despite giving up the lead, the Buckeyes held Iowa State's top-ranked three-point offense to 12-of-25 from behind the arc, and the Cyclones missed eight of their first 12 from distance.

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Arizona has been dominant thus far. Mark Lyons has been terrific, scoring 27 points against Harvard. Their defense has been good too. After Harvard shot 44.4 percent from the field in their upset against New Mexico, it shot just 27.8 percent against Arizona and went two of its first 22.

Arizona will need that defense against DeShaun Thomas, who averages 19.7 points per game and scored 22 against Iowa State. If he can get going, it will be tough for the Wildcats.

This will be a battle of defense. Ohio State is great at forcing turnovers, and it scored 18 points off 16 Iowa State turnovers. The Buckeyes are 15-1 when scoring at least 15 points off turnovers. They'll need that defense against Mark Lyons. The Xavier transfer has been terrific all season, shooting 33 percent from three.

Arizona averages about a rebound more per game and that will help it control the pace. That said, Arizona will need to overcome Ohio State's stifling defense.

Ohio State has the better defense, and if it forces turnovers, then it will win easily. 

Look for that outcome to come true. Ohio State's defense is just too good and the Wildcats are too reliant on Mark Lyons for their offense. Aaron Craft will shut Lyons down and Ohio State should take this somewhat easily.

 

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