With the first three rounds of the tournament in the books, only five Canadians remain standing. While it has been a wild ride, expect to see some more fireworks this weekend.
Wisconsin vs Syracuse (March 22nd, 7:15 PM ET): A very intriguing matchup between two disciplined and well coached teams. While the Orange like to force turnovers and get out in transition, the Badgers tend to slow things down in the half court set. It is no surprise that the Badgers live and die by the three and if they are hot from the perimeter, it will be a long night for the Orange and their 2-3 zone. For Syrcause, Rakeem Christmas has been solid in the absence of Fab Melo, but this game will be a true test for the team if they have any shot in contending for a National Championship. The Orange will definitely need more out of Kris Joseph, as he is shooting less than 30% from the field in the tournament. Expect to see this game go down to the wire. Will it be Syracuse’s prolific zone attack, or will the Badgers be able to shoot the lights out and run away with the game…only time will tell.
Florida vs Marquette (March 22nd, 10:17 PM ET): Probably one of the most anticipated matchups of the tournament thus far leaves two dynamic and potent offenses doing battle Thursday night. Both teams have rolled rather easily so far in the tournament and its only fitting that these two face off. The key for Marquette will be if they can defend the perimeter, as Florida leads the NCAA with almost ten three-point shots made per game. For the Gators, it will be defending the likes of Jae Crowder and slowing down the tempo of the Golden Eagles. The Golden Eagles rank seventh in the nation in assists per game, thanks in large to Junior Cadougan’s solid guard play. Expect this game to be played at a very physical and high pace as both teams like to press the ball and run.
Xavier vs Baylor (March 23rd, 7:15 PM ET): Brady Heslip, Brady Heslip, Brady Heslip, what more can one say, the kid can shoot. Coming off a 27 point performance where he shot a staggering 9/12 from three against Colorado, expect to see Xavier throw out many different looks to try and slow him down. The Baylor Bears are Canada’s new adopted team and many canucks are anxiously hoping for a matchup against Kentucky. For Xavier, everything runs through Tu Holloway, if the Bears can stop him, expect this game to be over quickly.
Indiana vs Kentucky (March 23rd, 9:45 PM ET): This is the second meeting of both teams this year. The Hoosiers were able to steal a big win over the Wildcats in December thanks to a buzzer beater by Christian Watford to hand Kentucky their first loss of the season. Look for Kyle Wiltjer to be a spark off the bench for Kentucky as he can provide a change of pace and some matchup problems for Indiana.
Kansas vs NC State (March 23rd, 10:17 PM ET): This game has upset potential written all over it. The Wolfpack have been playing their best basketball in recent memory and have found themselves matched up against arguably the best coached team in the nation. NC State will have to stay out of foul trouble if they have any shot in advancing, as their bench isn’t the deepest. Although Alex Johnson has been scoreless thus far in the tournament, don’t be surprised to see him come off the bench and be a huge contributor.