While the Sweet 16 is set to capture our attention on Thursday and Friday, there's no reason we can't peek ahead to the Elite Eight to see what kind of potential matchups will be there for the watching on Saturday and Sunday.
The 2013 NCAA tournament continues on Thursday with the Sweet 16, and eight games spanning two days will help decide the Elite Eight—played directly following the Sweet 16 on Saturday and Sunday in the four host cities.
While you're watching one of the most interesting Sweet 16 fields in the history of the tournament, go ahead and start picturing what kind of games you can expect in the Elite Eight. If Louisville is your favorite squad, you can salivate over the potential for either Duke or Michigan State on Sunday—if the Cardinals can get by Oregon first, that is.
March Madness is a guessing game. It might not always pay off to guess in your bracket pool, but guessing at which future games have the potential to be the best of the tournament when it's all said and done is quite interesting.
Sweet 16 Schedule
Note: All times are approximate, and Eastern Time. For a complete look at the tournament bracket, check out Bleacher Report's updated PDF for all the latest on game times, matchups and television information.
|SWEET 16 TV Schedule|
|Mar. 28 ||No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 2 Miami (FL)||7:15||CBS||Washington, D.C.|
|Mar. 28||No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 2 Ohio St.||7:47||TBS||Los Angeles, Cal.|
|Mar. 28||No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Syracuse||9:45||CBS||Washington, D.C.|
|Mar. 28||No. 9 Wichita St. vs. No. 13 La Salle||10:17||TBS||Los Angeles, Cal.|
|Mar. 29||No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 12 Oregon||7:15||CBS||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Mar. 29||No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Michigan||7:37||TBS||Arlington, Texas|
|Mar. 29||No. 3 Michigan St. vs. No. 2 Duke||9:45||CBS||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Mar. 29||No. 3 Florida vs. No. 15 FGCU||9:57||TBS||Arlington, Texas|
Most Exciting Potential Elite Eight Matchups
6. No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 2 Miami (FL)
Two conflicting styles could meet in the Elite Eight in the East region, if Indiana and Miami both make it through their respective games in the Sweet 16.
Indiana's deliberate pace, tough individual defense and gauged three-point shooting falls in stark contrast to Miami's electric athleticism, one-on-one basketball and point guard catalyst Shane Larkin.
With Reggie Johnson expected to miss the rest of the tournament for the Hurricanes, it will be a challenge for Miami to get out of the Sweet 16. It could prove to be even more costly against Cody Zeller inside, though Kenny Kadji would likely get his fair share of Zeller time in this fantasy matchup.
Indiana and Miami both flirted with being the No. 1 team in the nation over the final few weeks of the season. In a matchup that could very well have sufficed as the national championship, the Hoosiers and Hurricanes would put on a heck of a show.
5. No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 2 Duke
Speaking of two of the nation's top teams, Louisville and Duke would be a similarly intriguing matchup of top-tier opponents in the Elite Eight.
Duke's multi-layered attack consists of talented guards, a big man who is just as athletic as any big in the nation and a stretch-4 that has singlehandedly put Duke back into title contention. All that being said, Louisville has all the tools to match up to all of those positions.
From guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith to big man Gorgui Dieng, the Cardinals have the tools to play different styles and have the defense to contend with Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. The NBA talent might not be out in full swing in this game, but the two head coaches are enough to earn this dream matchup a spot in our top six.
4. No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 13 La Salle
Between the limited expectations for both teams and the big-time scorers, Arizona and La Salle would put on a heck of a show in the Elite Eight.
Both teams are averaging in the 70s in points per game during the tournament, and stud guards Mark Lyons of Arizona and Ramon Galloway of La Salle have both been lighting up the scoreboard for their respective teams so far.
La Salle uses a four-guard attack with center Steve Zack sidelined, a scheme that Arizona has already handled by knocking out Belmont in the second round. However, this La Salle team plays stellar defense, and will have to prove they can rebound just to make it to the Elite Eight by sticking with Wichita State.
The Wildcats have proven their early-season start was no fluke, and that the No. 6 seed was a little too low for how talented this team really is. On the other hand, La Salle has a lot to prove, and can be the first-ever No. 13 seed in the Elite Eight with another tournament win against the Shockers. Arizona would be a fitting opponent in a game of two overachievers.
3. No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 2 Duke
If Louisville fails to beat Oregon in the Sweet 16, another game you don't want to miss is one that includes the Oregon Ducks.
We've already talked about how Duke matches up against opposing defenses, but the real question in this game would be how the Blue Devils would go about stopping Oregon's run-and-gun pace and keeping Arsalan Kazemi (tournament-leading 16.5 rebounds per game) off the glass.
Duke has been a good defensive team so far in the tournament, but Oregon's style was a match-up nightmare for UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament championship, and again for Oklahoma State and Saint Louis in Oregon's first two tournament games.
Jonathan Loyd and Carlos Emory are also threats to score in the halfcourt and in transition for Oregon, and this game would carry a large level of intrigue as Oregon would be in position to crash the Final Four party in Atlanta with a win over the Dukies.
2. No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 13 La Salle
Winning streaks and conference bragging rights are on the line in this potential matchup, as we move back to the La Salle Explorers and their magical run through both the First Four and the next two rounds of March Madness.
Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State survived its two first games, and did so in the second after a controversial charge call went the Buckeyes' way and kept this from being Iowa State and La Salle instead.
The Buckeyes are still peaking at the right time, however, and Deshaun Thomas (23 ppg in tournament so far) is quietly third among remaining scorers in per-game average. He and the rest of the Buckeyes are also leading the tournament in scoring at 86.5 points per game, and still have the late-game execution to give anyone problems.
It would be extremely interesting to see what plan of attack Thad Matta uses to slow down La Salle, particularly since four game plans will have failed if La Salle reaches the Elite Eight.
1. No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast
More than any other potential game on the board, this one would be a can't-miss game in the Elite Eight.
From the future NBA players on Michigan's roster to Florida Gulf Coast's Dunk City highlight reel, the potential for a tournament game that ranks in the top 10 in the history of the 75-year event is there.
That's high praise for a No. 4 and No. 15 seed, but Michigan and FGCU can deliver.
Michigan features three players (Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr.) that should be in the NBA next season, and another (Mitch McGary) that has been absolutely untouchable since entering the starting lineup to start the tournament.
On the other side, the Eagles are taking the world by storm. Dunk City is probably still trending on Twitter after last week's two upset wins over Georgetown and San Diego State, and guards Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson both can score 30 on any given night.
If you want fireworks, this is the matchup you should be rooting for in the South region.
All 16 of these teams have defied odds, and will square off yet again for NCAA supremacy. While there are a number of matchups that could be made from this weekend's Sweet 16 games, these are the ones that would be the most exciting to watch.
And exciting is what the tournament is all about.
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