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2009 NCAA Tournament: Midwest Regional Sweet 16 Preview

 

The Midwest Regional could arguably be the best of the four regionals, even though it has the lowest seed of the tournament playing in it.

Arizona has shown great resolve in a season that dealt with so much off-the-court adversity that started with the abrupt retirement of Lute Olson. The Wildcats are playing their best basketball of the year. Big East champion Louisville has responded to the expectations of being the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed despite being challenged in the first and second rounds. We still haven’t seen the best of Louisville big man Earl Clark.

Big Ten Champions Michigan State is in the Sweet 16 for the 12th time under coach Tom Izzo. You can’t argue with that kind of consistency. And credit Kansas coach Bill Self with a great coaching job because he had to replace all five starters from last year’s team. The program has won eight consecutive tournament games.

 

Midwest Regional @ Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

No. 1 Louisville (30-5) vs. No. 12 Arizona (21-13)

Louisville 2009 NCAA Tournament capsule - Arizona 2009 2009 NCAA Tournament capsule

Time/Day/TV: 7:07 EDT/Friday/CBS

Louisville Road to the Final Four: D. No. 16 Morehead State, 74-54 D. No. 8 Siena 79-72

Arizona Road to the Final Four: D. No. 5 Utah, 84-71 D. No. 13 Cleveland State, 71-57

Louisville leading scorers: Earl Clark 13.9, Terrence Williams 12.7, Samardo Samuels 12.1

Louisville Moment of Truth: Trailing Siena 63-59 with 7:20 to play in the game, the Cardinals went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good, 68-63.

Arizona leading scorers: Jordan Hill 18.4, Chase Budinger 17.9, Nic Wise 15.7

Arizona Moment of Truth: The Wildcats are the only Pac 10 team remaining in the tournament.

Key Matchup: Arizona’s big three vs. Louisville’s big three. For the Wildcats, that would be Hill, Budinger and Wise. For the Cardinals, that would be Clark, Williams and Samuels. Each trio has carried these teams and the matchup in the post between Hill and Clark should be a lot of fun in terms of positioning. Whoever has the better night, wins.

Who Wins and Why: Louisville. The Wildcats are a dangerous team and can beat the best teams. Don’t be fooled by their seed. However, the Cardinals, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and this group has the means to get to Sunday’s championship game. Williams has taken his game to another level.

 

Midwest Regional @ Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

No. 2 Michigan State (28-6) vs. No. 3 Kansas (27-7)

Michigan State 2009 NCAA Tournament capsule - Kansas 2009 2009 NCAA Tournament capsule

Time/Day/TV: 9:37 EDT/Friday/CBS

Michigan State Road to the Final Four: D. No. 15 Robert Morris, 77-62 D. 10 USC, 74-69

Kansas Road to the Final Four: D. No. 14 North Dakota State, 84-74 D. No. 11 Dayton, 60-43

Michigan State Moment of Truth: Tied at 69 with 3:53 to play against USC, the Spartans scored the last five points of the game.

Michigan State Leading Scorers: Kalin Lucas 14.6, Raymar Morgan 10.7

Kansas Moment of Truth: In the first round, the Jayhawks had to survive North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside’s 37-point outburst.

Kansas Leading Scorers: Sherron Collins 18.9, Cole Aldrich 14.8

Key Matchup: Michigan State’s Lucas vs. Kansas’ Collins. This is a battle of two very good guards. The Spartans won’t shut down Collins but they can’t let the junior go off for 25-30 points either. If they can keep him in the teens, they can win the game. Kansas is going to have to cut off Lucas’ ability to penetrate.

Who Wins and Why: Michigan State. This is a re-match of the Jan. 10 in East Lansing, MI meeting that Michigan State won. But the teams are completely different from then. However, the Spartans are a better defensive team and should get enough stops to win a tight matchup and knock out the defending national champions.

 

Sweet 16 preview - East | Sweet 16 preview - Midwest | Sweet 16 preview - South | Sweet 16 preview - West

 

By Kevin Lonnquist
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

 


 


 

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