Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Double-digit seeds look to upset Midwest
By ESPN Stats & Information
Our Sweet 16 preview continues with a look at the matchups in the Midwest Regional on Friday:
(13) Ohio vs. (1) North Carolina, 7:47 ET
According to North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, the Tar Heels are preparing to play Friday’s game without starting point guard Kendall Marshall.
Without Marshall as the primary ball handler, the Tar Heels could have difficulty getting past the Ohio Bobcats tomorrow. Ohio forces 17.2 turnovers per game, the fifth-highest mark in the nation and most among the remaining Sweet 16 teams.
Marshall has also shined as the team’s offensive catalyst during the tournament, creating 80 points in his two games from either his own scoring or assists. Against Creighton, Marshall was responsible for 45 of the team's 87 points (55 percent).
If Marshall is not able to play, North Carolina’s ability to finish in the paint and in transition will likely be hurt. Nearly 30 percent of his 201 assists since the start of ACC play have come in transition.
Also, two-thirds of Marshall's assists in that time frame have resulted in paint shots. Tyler Zeller has been the biggest benefactor during this stretch, with 43 percent of his field goals coming off passes from Marshall.
Ohio’s most indispensable player is guard D.J. Cooper, who will be on the court Friday, and the Bobcats are certainly happy about that. Cooper has scored or assisted on 71 of Ohio’s 127 points (56 percent), the highest percentage for any player remaining in the field.
(11) North Carolina State vs (2) Kansas, 10:17 ET
One key battle to watch in this Sweet 16 matchup will be the ability of North Carolina State’s big men to dominate Kansas' forward-center tandem of Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey around the basket.
The Jayhawks have allowed just 22 points in the paint per game this season, which leads the Big 12 and is second among major conference schools. The Wolfpack are averaging 33 paint points per game this season, which ranks second in the ACC and 11th among the Power 6 teams.
However, NC State struggled to find its inside game against Georgetown in the third round. The Wolfpack shot less than 35 percent and scored just 20 points on attempts in the paint, including only six in the second half.
If Kansas is going to advance to the Elite Eight, the Jayhawks might want to improve their mid-range game. Kansas is shooting 27 percent outside the paint in the tournament, the worst among the remaining teams in the field.