Thursday's Early Action
March 27, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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Thursday's Sweet 16 action in the East and West regionals involves an interesting group of teams ranging from 13th seed La Salle to top-seeded Indiana. We'll take a look at the two tips in the 7:00 EST hour as four major conferences are represented, leading off with the Big East against the ACC.
(2) Miami vs. (3) Marquette - 7:15 PM EST - CBS
The first tip-off at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. involves two teams that weren't expected to be playing in this round when the season began. The Hurricanes continued their magical run by holding off Illinois in Sunday's round of 32 with a 63-59 triumph, but failed to cash as eight-point favorites. However, UM will be without one of its key players for Thursday's Sweet 16 showdown with Marquette.
Center Reggie Johnson underwent minor knee surgery on Tuesday, which will keep him out of this weekend's action. Johnson's productivity dipped following a thumb injury in December's Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, as 'Canes big man has not scored more than eight points in any of the last 12 games. In Sunday's win over Illinois, Johnson failed to score a single point in 18 minutes, but point guard Shane Larkin came through with a huge three-pointer in the final minute to take the lead for good.
Marquette managed to qualify for this round after squeaking by Davidson and Butler in the first two games. In the victory over Davidson in the second round, the Golden Eagles erased a five-point deficit in the final 41 seconds to shock the Wildcats, 59-58. Buzz Williams' team couldn't cash as 3 ½-point favorites, the fifth consecutive non-cover away from Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles held off Butler in the third round on Saturday, 74-72, as many closing numbers had Marquette as two-point 'chalk,' while the line hovered at 1 ½ for most of the day.
The Hurricanes turned in one of the better ATS records in the country at 21-10-1, as Jim Larranaga's club is riding a 4-1 ATS run. Miami is in the midst of a 7-3 'over' stretch, but the offense has been held to 65 points or less three times, including in the Illinois victory. The 'Canes are facing Marquette for the first time in school history, while searching for their first-ever appearance in the Elite Eight.
Miami is listed as five-point favorites, while the total is set at 127.
(2) Ohio State vs. (6) Arizona - 7:45 PM EST - TBS
The Buckeyes survived a scare in Sunday's round of 32 triumph over Iowa State thanks to a three-pointer at the buzzer by Aaron Craft. Ohio State edged its way to the Sweet 16 with a 78-75 win, but couldn't take home the money as 7 ½-point favorites. Thad Matta's squad led by 13 points in the second half, as the Cyclones rallied back with 19-5 run to grab a one-point advantage in the final two minutes of regulation. Craft's three-ball helped put the Buckeyes in the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive March.
The Wildcats breezed through their first two tournament victories over Belmont and Harvard, winning each game by at least 17 points. Sean Miller's team easily cashed in the favorite role each time, including as 10 ½-point favorites in a wire-to-wire 74-51 rout of the Crimson in the third round. In each of Arizona's last six victories, the Wildcats have won by double-digits, but four of those triumphs came against weaker competition as favorites of at least 10 points.
Ohio State has been nearly an automatic cover since February 20, posting an 8-2 ATS record the last 10 games. The two ATS losses came to Iowa State (in which the Buckeyes had a commanding lead) and at Northwestern, as the Wildcats cashed as 11-point home underdogs in a 63-53 loss. The Buckeyes are dominated as a single-digit favorite of late by going 7-2 ATS the last nine games in this role.
Arizona doesn't have to travel very far after returning home from Salt Lake City, as the next two rounds of this regional take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles. It may not mean much, but the Wildcats lost each of their two games in L.A. this season at UCLA and USC towards the end of the season. The 'Cats are listed as an underdog for just the second time this season, as Arizona came back late to stun Florida at home in December, 65-64.
The Buckeyes are 3 ½-point favorites, while the total is set at 134.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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