The B1G's cream definitely rose to the top this weekend, as four squads advanced to the Sweet 16. Indiana and OSU picked up hard fought wins, while the Spartans and Wolverines breezed by their competition in Auburn Hills. Comments and Sweet 16 matchups below:
MICHIGAN V. KANSAS
I think the Wolverines probably played their best game of this season while knocking off VCU, 78-53. It was a beatdown of the finest order, with Trey Burke crushing the VCU press and every other Wolverine player pitching in. That vaunted Havoc press gifted Michigan tons of open looks and transition dunks, something that the solid half-court Kansas D won't be doing. The Jayhawks will be favored in this Friday night game.
INDIANA V. SYRACUSE
Two of the bigger name programs in the country square off Thursday, a rematch of the 1987 final (KEITH SMART IN THE BUILDING). The 'Cuse zone can struggle under the weight of great three point shooting and pinpoint passing by big men. Indiana's big men can pass extremely well, but can Oladipo and Hulls knock down jumpers?
Indiana loves a quicker tempo and in their Round of 32 game, Temple dictated tempo, lengthening possessions and playing slowly. It's not a great sign that the #1 seed can be so easily pushed out of its comfort zone.
OSU V. ARIZONA
The Buckeyes have been given the upset laden bracket and thus the easiest road to the Final Four. Teams remaining in the West: LaSalle, Wichita State, Arizona. Anything less than a Final Four appearance would be considered a disappointment now. Will that pressure affect the Bucks?
Also, an aside about Aaron Craft. When I was in Chicago for the B1G Tourney, I started the argument that Aaron Craft had an ugly jumper. My friend took a different view of Craft's game, claiming he was actually a great scorer. I laughed, only to have Craft go nuts on MSU, scoring from everywhere on the floor. Now Craft is penetrating effectively and (apparently) taking over games at the end. So what do I know.
MICHIGAN STATE V. DUKE
Another Sweet 16 appearance by MSU shows a hot Spartan team, playing its signature suffocating defense and getting some lights out shooting from Gary Harris (who should probably just go to the NBA, right?). This is one of the less hatable Duke teams, but I'm sure you all can find something to get you riled up.
So that's what we've got. Four of the biggest brand names in college basketball versus the four best teams from the best B1G conference in years. It doesn't get a whole lot better than this.