- Brian Bennett, College Football
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CLEVELAND -- Here's a look at Friday's evening action from the East Regional at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena:
What to watch: Two basketball-obsessed, big-city, Jesuit schools known for their outstanding guard play and March success. Yes, please. Xavier dominated the Atlantic 10 and has a legitimate superstar in guard Tu Holloway. Marquette was just 7-8 in its final 15 games but had the highest scoring attack in the Big East. If the shots are falling, the Golden Eagles can beat anyone.
Who to watch: Holloway. Marquette players saw some great guards in their league, including UConn's Kemba Walker and Providence's Marshon Brooks, and they say Holloway compares favorably. "Kemba from what I can tell is a little faster, but they both have their scoring mentality," Golden Eagles guard Jimmy Butler said. "They both can shoot it. They both get to the line extremely well, and they both run their team extremely well." Butler is no slouch, either, averaging 16 points and 6.1 rebounds as a dangerous penetrator.
Why to watch: They say guards win in March, which is a debatable cliché. But this matchup should ensure an entertaining game. These are different types of teams, though. Xavier excels on defense and has better big men than it gets credited for, while Marquette usually needs to shoot well from the outside and get to the free throw line to win. Either one could pose a difficult potential opponent for Syracuse in Round Two.
What they're saying: "I think the biggest focus for us would be the ball screen. Focus a lot on that because every possession they're going to set two to three ball screens and try to get into the paint and distribute off of a ball screen, that being a side or flat ball screen, or to the baseline or things like that. So we've got to be ready for many types of ball screens they'll throw at us." -- Butler, on the defensive keys for Marquette.
"New York is full of great point guards every year. And I was fortunate enough to play against and with Kemba. And it's not new to me what he's doing in the college basketball world. I watched him do it firsthand in the backcourt. He never had a game like that against me, I'll say." -- Holloway, on the Kemba Walker comparisons.
Of note: The Golden Eagles have made more free throws than their opponents have attempted this season. "And it's odd in a way, because they don't necessarily have Shaquille O'Neal in the low post that's drawing fouls left and right -- they do it by committee," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "They do it by driving the basketball." ... These two teams met early last season, with Marquette winning by 10. Xavier went on to win two 2010 NCAA tournament games on Marquette's home court, the Bradley Center.
What to watch: If you want to boil this down to a simple storyline, it's Syracuse's size and 2-3 zone against Indiana State's four-guard attack. All but one Sycamores starter stands between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-5, and they spread the floor with their abundance of ballhandlers and shooters. How will that work against the Orange, who shorten the court defensively with guys like Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph? In an effort to simulate Syracuse's length, Indiana State practiced against a six-man zone this week, with the sixth defender standing in the low post holding up a hockey stick. The actual game may be even more difficult. On defense, the Sycamores can switch every screen, but they could get pounded on the glass.
Who to watch: The 6-foot-10 Jackson, who was named Big East defensive player of the year, could dominate the paint. Indiana State will have to use its quickness to neutralize him. The Sycamores define balance; they have seven players averaging between six and 11 points. Point guard Jake Odum will have to get in the lane against that 2-3 zone and kick out to shooters.
Why to watch: Never underestimate the Missouri Valley champion, even in a down year for the league. Just ask Kansas last year. Syracuse's 2010 tournament run came to an end in the Sweet 16 against another mid-major from Indiana: Butler. The Orange made this year's motto "Unfinished Business" in remembrance of that defeat.
What they're saying: "[On] selection Sunday, all we know about Indiana State was Larry Bird went there. And after watching film on them and reading the scouting report, they're a good team just like us. ... And I can tell you one thing, they can all shoot. And when a team all can shoot, that's kind of tough for our zone." -- Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine.
"It's pretty hard to prepare for the type of athleticism that they have. I mean, in the [Missouri] Valley, it's very few teams that have that type of frontcourt lineup. You can't really simulate that type of stuff. It's really just about willpower." -- Indiana State swingman Carl Richard.
Of note: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim will be coaching in his 71st NCAA tournament game. This will be the first one for Indiana State coach Greg Lansing. ... The Sycamores played in the 2000 and 2001 tournaments, but they will always be remembered as the 1979 runner-up led by Larry Bird. Lansing said the first thing he did when he came to Indiana State was to watch tapes of that '79 team to get a feel for what the heyday was like. "He wished us luck," guard Jake Kelly said of Bird. "He had some nice comments in some of the news coverage. We walk down the halls everywhere and there's pictures and stuff still. That gets us excited that somebody like Larry Bird is following us and wishing us luck."
CLEVELAND -- Here's a look at Friday's evening action from the East Regional at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena:No. 6 seed Xavier (24-7) vs. No. 11 Marquette (20-14), 7:27 ET (truTV)What to watch: Two basketball-obsessed, big-city, Jesuit schools known for their outstanding guard play and March success.