Sports

Rothstein Files: Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Primer

John Calipari (credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

John Calipari (credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

By Jon Rothstein
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BEST GAME: MURRAY STATE VERSUS MARQUETTE

Buzz Williams will be telling his team all the way up until tip off that is a road game for the Golden Eagles and in a lot of ways, it really is. Murray State will have a large contingent of fans at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville and that should provide a major advantage. The question is, will that be enough to help the Racers’ big men Ed Daniel and Ivan Aska negate the power game of Marquette’s baseline combo of Jae Crowder and Davante Gardner.

BEST CHANCE FOR AN UPSET: VCU OVER INDIANA


The Rams proved in their win over Wichita State that they were tenacious enough defensively to make an effective big man become irrelevant when Shockers center Garrett Stutz was a virtual non factor. Can they do the same thing to Indiana’s Cody Zeller? Quite possibly. The Hoosiers are down a guard in Verdell Jones and their starting floor general Jordan Hulls isn’t a true point guard. Look for VCU’s “HAVOC” defense to push them to the Sweet 16.

BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: ANTHONY DAVIS VERSUS ROYCE WHITE


This one will be worth the price of admission. There is no player in college basketball like White and Davis has proven this year can guard just about anyone at any time. The folks in Louisville are in for a real treat on Saturday night.

FIVE PREDICTIONS


1. SYRACUSE WILL GET BY KANSAS STATE


The Wildcats have a tendency to turn the ball over and the Orange’s transition game will benefit.

2. AARON CRAFT’S EXPERIENCE WILL PUSH OHIO STATE TO THE SWEET 16


Gonzaga’s two freshmen guards — Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell only had two turnovers in their win over West Virginia but that will change on Saturday. The Buckeyes gritty defense, led by Craft will be the difference as Ohio State advances.

3. KENTUCKY’S PERIMETER DEFENSE WILL LOCK UP IOWA STATE

One of the most underrated qualities of John Calipari’s teams is how well they guard the perimeter and that will be on full display against Iowa State’s talented perimeter of Chris Allen, Scott Christopherson, and Chris Babb.

4. PEYTON SIVA WILL CONTINUE HIS TERRIFIC RUN

Louisville’s speedy floor general will continue to flourish as the Cards run past New Mexico.

5. COLORADO WILL GIVE BAYLOR ALL IT CAN HANDLE


The Buffaloes might be the most underrated defensive team in the bracket and have what it takes to take the Bears to the brink.

FIVE UNDER THE RADAR NAMES TO KNOW


1. BRIANTE WEBER, VCU


2. SPENCER DINWIDDIE, COLORADO


3. THOMAS GIPSON, KANSAS STATE


4. DEMETRIUS WALKER, NEW MEXICO


5. JARED SWOPSHIRE, LOUISVILLE