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Sweet Sixteen Preview and Open Thread

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And some other helpful tournament thoughts from our "writers"

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the NCAA Tournament fires back up with half of the Sweet Sixteen in action. Tomorrow, the other half gets back on the court as we continue moving forward to determine a champion. This will be your open thread to discuss the tournament for the next two days, but since you came to us for tournament insight, we'll do our best to provide.

For tonight's Maryland vs. Kansas game, here's some thoughts from DJ:

"Maryland is a 6.5 underdog to Kansas going into tonight's game.  This makes absolute sense to me, and if I'm Vegas I feel confident in that line.  Kansas is currently playing it's basketball of the season and Maryland stumbled their way into the tournament after an extremely disappointing March.  This should make me feel....not so great about this game, but I'm not.  I'm cautiously optimistic about the game and I think Maryland can win it.  Maryland, by most people's standards, is one of the most talented teams on paper in the tournament this year.  In February they looked very average and at one point I had the conversation with a few writers about how the team just looked like they straight up did not like playing with each other. That's ​not​ good.

Then the Big Ten tournament happened, and even though they lost to MSU in the semifinals, they looked like they were all on the same page offensively against Nebraska and looked as good as they had all season on defense against MSU.  Moving on to the NCAA tournament, Maryland was rightfully curbstomping SDSU before Turgeon pulled his starters way too early and SDSU hit a few timely 3's in a row to make things way too uncomfortable.  Very Maryland of him.  It seemed he learned his lesson against Hawaii, not for a second thinking of pulling his starters until the game was done and over with. It's March and it's win or go home, teams aren't just going to lay down and quit when they are down 20 with 8 to go.

So why am I confident? They're seemingly putting it together, and despite shooting 1-18 from 3 against Hawaii, they still managed to put them away by 12+ points.  Since the BTT, Maryland is on fire offensively and it appears that everyone has remembered how to shoot the ball, or if they can't that they have two great post players who can score.  Combine that with what appears to be a renewed presence on the defensive side of the floor and Maryland suddenly looks much better than the 5 seed they have.  Are they going to win? I'm not sure.  They're playing the number 1 overall seed who is firing on all cylinders, but I at least feel confident that they're not going to go out and embarrass themselves, something I would have absolutely predicted if you told me in February that Maryland played Kansas in the Sweet 16.  But Maryland firing on all cylinders? They can hang with the best of them, and the MD/UNC game in the B1G/ACC Challenge was one of the best games of the season that I watched and it gives me hope that Maryland can pull the upset."

Other games of note for Thursday: Miami vs. Villanova, Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma, Duke vs. Oregon

On Friday, there's the not-Big Ten regional and the Big Ten regional. The not-Big Ten regional features Iowa State vs. Virginia and Gonzaga vs. Syracuse. In the Big Ten regional, Wisconsin takes on Notre Dame in the early game, while IU-UNC is the nightcap.

When asked for his thoughts about Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame, Speth's response was "Fuck Notre Dame."

As far as Indiana vs. North Carolina goes, there's every reason to believe that this game is winnable. It won't be easy, especially if Robert Johnson and/or Juwan Morgan can't go, but if IU can play their game and hold UNC off the boards, the Hoosiers might find themselves in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2002. They'll need Yogi Ferrell to put up a good to great game, for starters. And Thomas Bryant will need to find a way to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble, something he's been having more trouble doing as the season goes on. If Bryant goes off early, Colin Hartman and Max Bielfeldt are going to have their hands full with the frontcourt for the Tar Heels. OG Anunoby needs to keep having good games; maybe not double figure points necessarily, but top notch defense is a necessity, particularly if Johnson and Morgan don't play or can't stay healthy if they do play. Also, it wouldn't be the first time Indiana has knocked out North Carolina in Philly; it's just been a while.

Since not all of our "writers" still have teams left in this tournament, their thoughts will be gathered here for your amusement.

Stew: Life is pain and suffering. Karma is a lie.

Jesse: I hope everyone loses like UNI.

LPW: DePaul Basketball drives me to drink.

Graham: Death and Destruction, may we all have peace amidst the rubble. - Smug Dith

Enjoy your basketball, everyone. Usual open thread rules apply.