Sweet 16 live blog

Sweet 16 live blog
March 28, 2013, 6:30 pm
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12:02 a.m -- In the end, there would be no Hoosier miracle. The Syracuse defense did not allow it. 

Many stories will be written about this game, much will be said about Indiana's struggles, but the star of this show was the Syracuse defense. The Orange put on one of the finest defensive performances I've ever seen, and it sent the talented Hoosier squad back to Indiana, well before many thought or expected. 

GAME TWO FINAL SCORE: SYRACUSE 61, INDIANA 50

11:53 p.m. -- Three minutes left, Indiana is down 10. If there is a time for Hoosier miracles, this is it. 

11:43 p.m. -- (Ben) We are seven minutes away from two visiting Big East schools playing for a Final 4 on Georgetown's home court. Yikes. In this game, credit that heralded 2-3 matchup zone for leading the Orange and frustrating the Hoosiers not named Victor Oladipo.

11:37 p.m. -- With just seven and a half minutes left, Indiana's season is in serious jeopardy. The Hoosiers now trail Syracuse by 14 and have no leader on the floor. Junior guard Victor Oladipo appears to be suffering from cramps and sophomore Cody Zeller has been largely invisible for most of the night.

Syracuse looks to be in control of this one on both ends of the floor. Offensively, Michael Carter-Williams has been dominant. He has 21 points, four rebounds and four steals, highlighting a very active Orange defense. No. 1 seed Indiana is in trouble, and Cuse looks ready to knock them out. 

11:29 p.m. -- At this juncture of the game, things are turning into a grinder. Syracuse looks to be getting the most out of every offensive chance; even when they don't score the deliberate pace is wearing down the Indiana defense. Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell just doesn't have it tonight for the Hoosiers, and it looks like he might spend more time on the bench than the floor down the stretch. With just under 12 minutes to play, Cuse is up 10. 

11:18 p.m. -- Seems like Syracuse was able to withstand the initial Indiana surge coming out of halftime. With just under 16 minutes to play in the game, Cuse leads by nine over the Hoosiers. The second half is off to a sloppy start, with both teams turning the ball over at an accelerated rate. A faster game favors the Hoosiers, though the Orange have the athletes to score on the break too. It is too early in the game for Syracuse to milk the game clock on each possession, but Boeheim is undoubtedly reminding his players to value the ball. 

11:09 p.m. -- Maybe Tom Crean knows what he's doing after all. Whatever he said to his Hoosiers at halftime seems to be working in the early going of the second half. Indiana has trimmed a 12-point deficit to seven in just 90 seconds, and more importantly, started the second half with a strong offensive possession against the Syracuse zone.

My colleague Matt Doolin points out that Syracuse knows the feeling of blowing a big halftime lead -- remember the second half of the Big East Tournament final against Louisville? The Orange need to respond with a bucket or that sinking familiar feeling could come creeping back. 

10:51 p.m. -- Nice moment for the local teams as the NCAA honored recent Final Four teams from Georgetown, George Mason and Maryland. Among the folks honored at half-court included Mason's Tony Skinn, Georgetown's Tyler Crawford and former Maryland coach Gary Williams. Williams received the loudest ovation of the bunch. On a sad turn, the big screen at Verizon and the PA announcer introduced Tony Shinn, instead of Skinn, though the former Mason great seemed to laugh the mispronunciation off. 

10:45 p.m. -- This is a serious question: Did Indiana prepare for the zone? At all?  At halftime, Syracuse leads 34-22, but Indiana's half court offense looks stagnant. On the break the Hoosiers can score, but when the Orange slow down the pace and force Indiana to run their offense, the Hoosiers look lost.

10:38 p.m. -- This Syracuse crowd isn't missing any chances to enjoy themselves. When legendary former Georgetown coach John Thompson, working the game for radio, was shown on the Verizon Center big screen the crowd broke out into a chorus of boos. You'll remember that Big John famously closed Manley Field House, among many other perceived slights to the Orange, while he coached the Hoyas. 

10:28 p.m. -- This about sums things up so far. 

10:24 p.m. -- A lot to digest here, but the Cuse fans really didn't like that charge call on Fair. Looked like a tough call, the Indiana defender slid in to take the charge at the last second. Whether or not the right call was made, college hoops has a problem with calls like that. 

The biggest surprise so far is what appears to be Indiana's utter lack of preparation for the Syracuse zone. Orange coach Jim Boeheim has only been coaching the 2-3 for 20 years or so, it's not like this should be a surprise. If there has ever been a knock on Tom Crean, it's in-game strategy. Right now it appears the Hoosiers have no answer for the Orange defense, though they certainly knew it was coming and had the better part of a week to prepare.

At just under the 7-minute mark, Syracuse leads 20-9. Most, if not all, of the Hoosiers nine points have come in transition, and IU already has 10 turnovers in the game.

10:06 p.m. -- Syracuse is off to a great start in this one and the "Let's go Orange" chants are echoing throughout the Verizon Center. Indiana seems confounded by the famed 2-3 zone of Syracuse, and the Orange are out to a 11-3 lead at the 14-minute mark. It's time for Indiana's Tom Crean to get his star sophomore Cody Zeller the ball in the high post. The best way to attack a 2-3 zone is with a skilled big man at the top of the key, and Zeller should be able to provide the Hoosiers with that. To this point, Indiana stationed the less talented Christian Watford in the high post. It will be interesting to see if Crean makes the change, which could also free up Oladipo from the wing. 

10:04 p.m. -- I hope everyone just got to see the end of that Ohio State game. Wow. 

9:55 p.m. -- The ball is tipped... and here we go. Syracuse seems to have a bit louder of a cheering section, and Baltimore native C.J. Fair got a warm welcome. The loudest ovation of starting lineup's came for Indiana star, and DeMatha alum, Victor Oladipo. Indiana's Tom Crean got a weird mix of cheers and boos, perhaps some coming from the Marquette fans who may have felt spurned when Crean left Milwaukee for Bloomington.

The atmosphere has picked right back up. This place is buzzing.  

9:38 p.m. -- Instant analysis of Marquette/Miami

9:25 p.m. -- Man, I'm just glad that one is over. I know Miami made the score respectable in the end, but that game was over midway through the second half. Now we get to settle in for what should be a heavyweight battle between Syracuse and Indiana.

Many think Temple provided a blueprint to beat the Hoosiers last week in the third round, even though the Owls suffered a narrow defeat. The idea: out-physical the Hoosiers, make some shots, and slow the game down. Can the Orange do it? I'm not sure, but I certainly look forward to finding out. 

9:20 p.m. -- (Ben) Congrats to Marquette for advancing into the round of 8 for the first time under coach Buzz Williams – which means we are an Indiana win over Syracuse away from Hoosiers coach Tom Crean facing the school he took to the Final Four in 2003.

GAME ONE FINAL SCORE: MARQUETTE 71, MIAMI 61

9:00 p.m. -- (Ben) Just noticed Wolf Blitzer sitting right behind me. Maybe I should ask him what's the situation with Miami so far. Since he doesn’t have the stats handy, I’ll note that both teams have three 3-point field goals, but Miami has attempted 11 more. Oh, just noticed Marquette is 13 of 17 from the field this half. Only hotter shooting second half I recall is 1985 Villanova over Georgetown in the…eh, never mind. Big John is a few seats over from me and Wolf. In case he’s reading this blog, I better quit it.

8:54 p.m. -- This first game is hardly exciting, but the good news is the arena is just about capacity now. It seems that many of the Syracuse and Indiana fans watched the first game in bars rather than in their seats, and it will be interesting to see which crowd brings more energy for their team. With the fans settling in, and both schools known for rowdy fans that travel, the nightcap could be a gem. 

8:47 p.m. -- (Ben) Adding to Miami's concerns, lack of a bench. The Canes often go no more than eight-deep and that was with the now injured Reggie Johnson. Right now Coach
L is basically using six players and Kenny Kadji for one looks exhausted. Larranaga has turned to full-court pressure, but his players might wear out in the process. On the other side, Buzz Williams continues his usual 10-player rotation, though Blue and Lockett have played virtually the entire game. Now 51-34 Marquette, nearing the 9-minute mark.

8:39 p.m. -- (Ben) Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson are 8 of 14 from the field for Marquette. Miami’s entire team is 9 of 34. In other news, Marquette is up 41-23. Only Kenny Kadji (5 of 11) is doing anything for the Canes. Reggie Johnson’s presence wouldn’t help as a scorer, but the Golden Eagles are also controlling the paint and the boards.

8:35 p.m. -- After five minutes of the second half, it doesn't look like Miami will stage a come back. Sure plenty of time remains, but Marquette is completely controlling the game, not to mention pushing their lead to nearly 20 points. With the score 41-23 Marquette, the Canes will need to real off at least a 10-point run to make this one compelling down the stretch. If not, all the talk of Marquette being a "lucky" team goes out the window. 

8:11 p.m. -- Our boss Mike Wargo brings up a great stat: Miami's football team scored 16 or more points by halftime eight times this year. It is never good when the hoops team is outscored by the football team, but especially bad in a Sweet 16 game. 

8:07 p.m. -- Halftime and Marquette is way out in front on Miami 29-16. I can't imagine Miami has shot that poorly in a half at all this season. Marquette deserves a lot of credit, but the Canes also just missed open shots. Miami shot just 21 percent from the field in the first half, which is bad, and 1-12 from 3-point land, which is awful. Miami has shooters in Durand Scott and Shane Larkin, even big man Kenny Kadji can knock down the three. Those guys will have to heat up in the second half to come back.

Golden Eagles guard Vander Blue leads the team with eight points, including an impressive step-back jump shot from the top of the key to close the first half. Vander Blue is not only an awesome name (Ben and I agree on that), Ben thinks Blue has been the most outstanding player in the East region thus far.

7: 56 p.m. -- (Ben) Marquette is the inferior 3-point shooting team, right? Well, Miami is 1 of 11 from beyond the arc. Helps explain a 24-14 deficit.

On a random, non-game note, Andy Katz is reporting UCLA targeting Butler's Brad Stevens as its next head coach and the two sides are negotiating. Can't argue with that move - unless you’re the new Big East banking on Butler as one of its high-wattage teams.

7:52 p.m. -- This game has been pretty ugly, but a lot of that is attributable to the relentless defensive pressure from Marquette. Jamil Wilson, in particular, has been all over the Hurricanes, blocking shots and harassing the Canes ball-handlers. On one possession Wilson personally shut down what could have been a Canes fast break. Miami will have to figure out a way to score to get back in this thing, something Larranga will no doubt look to figure out at half.

7:42 p.m. -- (Ben) Julian Gamble's free throw snaps 7-minute scoreless streak for the Canes. Down 12-5, 10 min left. I've witnessed this kind of game before in this building...

7:14 p.m. -- (Ben) I spoke yesterday with Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson about ACC foe Miami's desired style. "They win the way they need to win,' Johnson said. "They need to go up-tempo, they will. They need to slow it down - they won some games in our league scoring in the 40's, 50's. They have the stuff to score in the 70's, 80's. They can win either way."

If that's the case, look for a grind-it-out game because Marquette struggles to score, certainly in an aesthetically pleasing way. Also look for a close game; the Golden Eagles last eight games have been decided by eight points or less.

7:11 p.m. -- And we're off. Though tickets for the Sweet 16 regional at Verizon Center were quite expensive and tough to get, the arena is far from full to start. Anyway, with the games set to begin here are our picks:

JP -- Miami beats Marquette, Indiana beats Syracuse

Chick Hernandez -- Miami beats Marquette, Indiana beats Syracuse

Ben -- Miami beats Marquette (in a close one), Indiana beats Syracuse

J. Michael (Wizards Insider) -- Miami over Marquette, Indiana over Syracuse

6:45 p.m. -- We're about a half hour from tip-off and the Verizon Center is just starting to fill in. The first game will feature Marquette against Miami, and it seems like the Golden Eagles brought more fans from Milwaukee than the Hurricanes did from South Florida. No surprise there really, even when Marquette plays Georgetown in the regular season there always seems to be a vocal group of Wisconsin fans cheering on MU. 

Ben caught a great picture of Marquette coach Buzz Williams soaking in the atmosphere while his team got ready for the game.