Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Miami Hurricanes (-5, 127)
After both survived scares last weekend, the road will end for either third-seeded Marquette or second-seeded Miami when they clash Thursday in the NCAA Tournament round of 16 in Washington, D.C. The Hurricanes continued their charmed season by holding off Illinois 63-59 on Sunday, reaching the Sweet 16 for only the second time. They have never advanced to the Elite Eight, but will have to do so without reserve C Reggie Johnson, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday.
The Golden Eagles are in the Sweet 16 for the third straight year, but they haven't advanced past this point since a Final Four run in 2003. Marquette was fortunate to get out of the round of 64, needing a late rally to fend off upset-minded Davidson 59-58, and the Golden Eagles denied another challenge in a 74-72 win over Butler on Saturday. The teams have split four all-time meetings and are squaring off for the first time since 1989.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT MARQUETTE (25-8, 13-15-1 ATS): The Golden Eagles have been forced to rally in the second half of their first two games in the tournament, and junior guard Vander Blue has been the hero in both. Blue made the winning basket in the final seconds against Davidson and poured in 29 points against Butler. "We had two close games - we had a lot of those this year," Blue told reporters. "What we went through earlier this year prepared us." They ought to expect another tight contest in a matchup of defensive-minded teams. Blue and junior forward Jamil Wilson are the only Marquette players averaging double-digit scoring in the tournament.
ABOUT MIAMI (29-6, 21-10-1 ATS): The Hurricanes already have enjoyed what could be described as the best season in school history, winning the ACC regular-season and tournament titles, and they're not ready to send off six seniors yet. "Words can't describe it," forward Julian Gamble told reporters. "It is the first time (in the Sweet 16) for our school since the year 2000. To be going with this group of guys and continue with this dream season of sorts is really hard to put into words right now. We are really excited about the opportunity." Junior Rion Brown helped keep the season going with 21 points against Illinois, as the Hurricanes overcame a tough offensive night from senior Durand Scott. There's a chance Johnson could return if Miami reaches the Final Four.
* Golden Eagles are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Hurricanes are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Under is 6-2 in Golden Eagles' last eight NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 7-1 in Hurricanes' last eight NCAA Tournament games.
1. In five postseason games, Miami's Shane Larkin, Trey McKinney Jones, Scott and Brown all are averaging more than nine points, have hit 10 or more 3-pointers and are shooting better than 80 percent from the foul line.
2. Marquette is 4-6 this season when trailing at halftime, including two wins in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles are 20-1 when leading at half and 1-1 when tied at the break.
3. The Verizon Center is the same site where Miami coach Jim Larranaga led George Mason to the Final Four in 2006. The Patriots beat Wichita State in the regional semifinals and Connecticut in the regional final in Washington, D.C.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Syracuse Orange (+5.5, 135.5)
It has been more than a quarter-century since Indiana and Syracuse created one of the most memorable finishes in national championship history. The two basketball powers will meet again in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since – this time in the East Regional semifinals – on Thursday in Washington D.C. In 1987, the Hoosiers’ Keith Smart drained a 16-foot jumper from the left baseline in the final seconds against the Orange, giving Indiana its last NCAA title. The Hoosiers reached their second consecutive Sweet 16 for the first time in school history Sunday after rallying in the final minutes to defeat Temple 58-52.
Like Indiana, the Orange survived their own third-round scare, pulling out a 66-60 victory over California despite 15 missed free throws and a second-half field-goal drought that lasted 12:09. “It was not pretty. Honestly, I don't think I can describe it. It was about as ugly as I think it can get,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said following the game. The winner will face either Miami (Fla.) or Marquette in the Elite Eight on Saturday.
TV: 9:45 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT SYRACUSE (28-9, 18-15-0 ATS): Although he did not find out about it until after the game, Michael Carter-Williams’ home in Massachusetts was destroyed by fire Saturday, approximately at the same time the Orange were on the court with the Golden Bears in San Jose, Calif. Syracuse held Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe to eight points and nine field-goal attempts – each mark two shy of his season low. The Bears also shot 4-for-21 beyond the arc. Defending the 3-point shot will be pivotal against the Hoosiers, who rank third in the country beyond the arc (40.8 percent) and feature three starters who knock down at least 43 percent of their 3-point attempts.
ABOUT INDIANA (29-6, 17-15-1 ATS): Victor Oladipo was named one of four finalists for the Naismith Award on Sunday and promptly closed out the Hoosiers’ victory over Temple by converting the tiebreaking free throw and a critical insurance 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year will enjoy a homecoming of sorts this week in the nation’s capital, which is a short drive from Oladipo’s hometown of Upper Marlboro, Md. The 58 points against the Owls matched the Hoosiers’ second-lowest output of the season and marked the first time the third-highest scoring team in the country won a game in which they scored fewer than 66 points.
* Orange are 2-5 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games.
* Hoosiers are 0-3-1 ATS in their last four NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 5-2 in Orange last seven neutral site games.
* Under is 5-2 in Hoosiers last seven overall.
1. Indiana is 11-1 all-time as a No. 1 seed, with the resulting .916 winning percentage the best such mark for a top seed in NCAA Tournament history.
2. Boeheim’s 50 NCAA Tournament victories rank fourth all-time.
3. The Hoosiers are the sixth-best shooting team in the country (48.6 percent) while the Orange own the third-best field-goal defense (37.3).