Marquette vs. Syracuse - Wow. I haven't looked but I'm guessing the number of people who picked this regional final was pretty small. Both teams are coming off pretty impressive victories. Marquette imposed their will on a solid Miami team while Syracuse stymied a good Indiana team who look shocked the Orange ran a zone defense.
In their earlier meeting, Marquette abused the Orange in the paint and got a monster game out of Davante Gardner. According to the heads, Syracuse is very upset they let that one get away. Look for Marquette to use their own zone. Marquette will need to protect the ball and win the board battle again. The Golden Eagles shouldn't be as effected by the zone. Syracuse will have to be stronger on the glass and make the shots the Canes missed. As good as Marquette was on Thursday, the Canes left some buckets behind.
Syracuse was a one-seed type team before the final ten games. They tried to give the game away against Indiana but this seems like an improbable Boeheim run.
The Pick: Syracuse 62 Marquette 56
Wichita State vs. Ohio State - It'd be easy to dismiss both these teams. Ohio State got a lot of breaks just to survive Iowa State and then survived blowing a late lead against Arizona on last second winners. Wichita State beat a 13 to get here and maybe an overrated Zags team. That's March, though.
Wichita State has a size advantage they need to continue to ride. For all the Craft love, the truth is, he's been a bit erratic in second halves. Wichita State can't just defend Thomas and Craft, though. The Buckeyes "others" have really stepped up nicely. On the Shockers side, they've gotten healthy and are probably undervalued.
I'd love a Valley team to dance into the Final Four and Wichita State can win this game. If they do, they'd be the first 9 seed since the Penn team of 1979 to make a Final Four. That being said, the most improved team since October has been the Buckeyes. They extend their winning streak to 12.
The Pick: Ohio State 69 Wichita State 61