Fewer than 24 hours before the start of the Sweet 16, I'll be breaking down each and every Sweet 16 game, one by one, in painstaking detail. The first game of the round features the #3 Seeded Marquette Golden Eagles against the #2 Seeded Miami Hurricanes from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. at 7:15 ET on CBS.
How Did They Get Here:
Marquette (25-8, 14-4 Big East) defeated #14 Davidson in their opening round game 59-58 on a Vander Blue layup with one second left. Down seven with fewer than two minutes left, Blue and Jamil Wilson scored the final 13 points on the strength of 3 three-pointers, a shot they have had incredible difficulty with all year. In their next game, in one of the best games of the tournament, the Golden Eagles survived against the Butler Bulldogs 74-72, on the strength of 29 points on 3-4 shooting from three and 4 steals.
Miami (29-6, 15-3 ACC) defeated #15 Pacific 78-49 in the opening game behind 21 points from Durand Scott. In their next game, thanks to a stroke of luck in the form of some favorable calls, the Hurricanes defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini 63-59. The Canes were lifted by reserve Rion Brown, who scored 21 points on 5-10 shooting from three.
What to Watch For:
Vegas puts the Hurricanes as the five-point favorites; however, without Center Reggie Johnson (out with a knee injury), they are an entirely different team. Miami is an incredibly dangerous three-point shooting team, led by Shane Larkin (40.6%). Marquette on the other hand, is not, as they are the worst three-point shooting team in the field. At the same time, without Johnson, Miami loses a considerable amount of size, and with a short-rotation (Larranaga only plays eight or so guys), if Kenny Kadji gets into foul trouble, the Marquette bigs can beat up on Miami inside. In this contrast of styles, if Miami can shoot the three, they will win this one.
Prediction: Miami 67, Marquette 63.