Top Dog — Louisville (1)
Louisville is playing like the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals advanced to the Sweet 16 with a surprisingly easy 82–56 win over a very good Colorado State team. Shooting guard Russ Smith, never known to be the most efficient player on the Cards’ roster, scored 27 points on only 15 shots to lead the way for Rick Pitino’s club. In its two wins, Louisville is shooting a combined 56.9 percent from the floor and has forced an average of 20.5 turnovers. That’s a formula for success at any level of basketball.
Underdog – Oregon (12)
It flew a bit under the radar, but No. 12 seed Oregon recorded one of the most impressive wins of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, rolling past Saint Louis 74–57 on Saturday. The Ducks, grossly underseeded by the Selection Committee, knocked off the No. 5 and No. 4 seeds by a combined 30 points. Oregon is led by a pair of senior forwards, E.J. Singler (younger brother of former Duke star Kyle Singler) and Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi. The Ducks are outstanding on the defensive end of the court and are a very good rebounding team. They do, however, struggle from the 3-point line, ranking 298th in the nation at 27.5 percent.
Coaching Showdown to Watch: Izzo vs. Coach K
Two of the great NCAA Tournament coaches of all time — Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski will meet in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis. Duke, the No. 2 seed, is a slight favorite over the No. 3-seeded Spartans. Izzo is 1–7 all-time vs. Coach K, but the one victory came in the 2005 Sweet 16. These teams last met in November 2011 at Madison Square Garden. Duke won 74–69.
“I don’t want to put the pressure on Rick and his guys, but they’re special. They need a little luck like everybody does to win it all, but that’s as impressive team as I‘ve been against, certainly.” — Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy, after his team lost to Louisville.
Sweet 16 Previews: