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Preview: Thursday’s NCAA Tournament games

A look at the 16 matchups, with each school’s likely starters and analysis from Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan.

MICHIGAN ST. vs. VALPARAISO

Regional: Midwest. Time: 12:15 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 3. Michigan St. (25-8/6-4); 14. Valparaiso (26-7/9-1)

No.ValparaisoHt.PPGRPG
45Ryan Broekhoff6-715.97.3
55Kevin Van Wijk6-812.75.5
15Erik Buggs5-116.82.6
23Matt Kenney6-48.23.2
3Will Bogan6-16.51.1
 Michigan St.    
11Keith Appling6-113.63.5
14Gary Harris6-412.92.4
5Adreian Payne6-1010.47.5
25 Derrick Nix6-99.56.2
22Branden Dawson6-69.46.0

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Analysis: The Spartans will give top effort, defend well (opponents shoot less than 40 percent), and rebound (plus-7 margin) but they were a cut below the best in the Big Ten this season. Valpo will have to figure out how to defend the Spartans’ guards, Keith Appling (13.6 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Gary Harris (12.9). Valpo is well-coached by Bryce Drew, who played for his father Homer at Valpo and hit a buzzer-beating shot against Mississippi that’s still shown by CBS. His best players are two imports, 6-foot-7-inch Aussie Ryan Broekhoff (15.9) and 6-8 Dutchman Kevin Van Wijk (12.7), who will have to hold their own against the Spartans’ big men.

BUTLER vs. BUCKNELL

Regional: East. Time: 12:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 6. Butler (26-8/6-4); 11. Bucknell (28-5/9-1)

No.BucknellHt.PPGRPG
31Mike Muscala6-1119.011.2
42Cameron Ayers6-512.54.0
12Bryson Johnson6-211.12.7
15Joe Willman6-710.35.9
3Steven Kaspar6-32.31.9
 Butler   
21Roosevelt Jones6-410.15.7
23Khyle Marshal6-69.94.7
44Andrew Smith6-1111.15.7
15Rotnei Clarke6-016.72.9
24Kellen Dunham6-69.92.8

Analysis: A matchup of two really good coaches in Butler’s Brad Stevens and Bucknell’s Dave Paulsen (who used to coach Williams). Neither team will beat itself. This will be an intriguing big-man matchup between Bucknell’s Mike Muscala (19.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg) and Butler’s Andrew Smith (11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg). Overall, both teams shoot well (45 percent). Butler’s best player is dynamic point guard Rotnei Clarke (16.7) but glue-guy extraordinaire Roosevelt Jones is important defensively. In the end Butler is just too good to lose this game.

PITTSBURGH vs. WICHITA ST.

Regional: West. Time: 1:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 8. Pittsburgh (24-8/8-2); 9. Wichita St. (26-8/7-3);

No.Wichita St.Ht.PPGRPG
22Carl Hall6-812.87.2
21Ehimen Orukpe7-02.84.5
2Malcolm Armstead6-010.42.7
5Demetric Williams6-28.32.7
32Tekele Cotton6-26.33.9
 Pittsburgh   
21Lamar Patterson6-510.04.4
42 Talib Zanna6-99.86.0
13Steven Adams7-07.06.2
00James Robinson6-36.12.2
1Tray Woodall6-011.82,5

Analysis: Pitt has had a good season, but remember: the only road games the Panthers played were Big East games; that didn’t impress the committee or really prepare a team for this tournament. They’re about to go into the grinder. Wichita State is not a skilled offensive team, but the Shockers have a philosophy: solid defense, rebounding, and patient offense. Pitt can play that game, too, so this figures to be low-scoring and close. Not sure if it’s a taffy pull or a rock fight.

SAINT LOUIS vs. NEW MEXICO ST.

Regional: Midwest. Time: 2:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 4. Saint Louis (27-6/9-1); 13. New Mexico St. (24-10/8-2)

No.New Mexico St.Ht.PPGRPG
10Bandja Sy6-811.77.3
25Renaldo Dixon6-105.73.9
2Sim Bhullar7-510.26.5
12K.C. Ross-Miller6-15.32.0
23Daniel Mullings6-214.05.2
 Saint Louis   
1Grandy Glaze6-63.22.7
21Dwayne Evans6-513.77.7
51Rob Loe6-117.23.5
3Kwamain Mitchell5-1010.42.4
11Mike McCall Jr. 6-09.72.5

Analysis: Saint Louis is the best defensive team in the country; it likes to put pressure on teams in the half-court and squeeze the life out of an offense. Opponents don’t simply have difficulty scoring against the Billikens; they have trouble just running their offense. New Mexico State would prefer to push the ball inside to its big guys, 7-foot-5-inch, 360-pound Sim Bhullar and 6-8 Bandja Sy; it will be surprising if the Aggies can do it.

MEMPHIS vs. SAINT MARY’S

Regional: Midwest. Time: 2:45 Seed, record/last 10: 6. Memphis (30-4/9-1); 11. Saint Mary’s (28-6/14-2)

No.Saint Mary’sHt.PPGRPG
3Mitchell Young6-97.65.5
0Brad Waldow6-910.26.1
4Matt Dellavedova6-415.83.3
14Stephen Holt6-411.85.4
12Jordan Giusti6-22.81.6
 Memphis   
4Adonis Thomas6-711.94.6
5 Shaq Goodwin6-97.84.6
30 D.J. Stephens6-57.66.7
1Joe Jackson6-113.63.1
55Geron Johnson6-310.54.6

Analysis: The Tigers have lots of talent on the perimeter, with guards Joe Jackson (13.6), Adonis Thomas (11.9), Chris Crawford (10.7), and Geron Johnson (10.5) all serious offensive threats. The big guys, Tarik Black and Shaq Goodwin, are intimidating. They also won 19 straight conference games, but when challenged outside the league, they lost to VCU, Louisville, Minnesota, and Xavier. It makes people doubt. Saint Mary’s would have a season for the ages if it weren’t for Gonzaga, which beat it three times. The Gaels are an up-tempo team, following the lead of multi-skilled point guard Matthew Dellavedova.

MARQUETTE vs. DAVIDSON

Regional: East. Time: 3:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 3. Marquette (23-8/7-3); 14. Davidson (26-7/10-0)

No.DavidsonHt.PPGRPG
15Jake Cohen6-1014.85.5
24De’Mon Brooks6-713.86.2
5JP Kuhlman6-48.12.7
12Nik Cochran6-39.82.3
35Chris Czerapowicz6-79.25.1
 Marquette   
10Juan Anderson6-63.03.0
22Trent Lockett6-57.14.7
42Chris Otule6-114.93.3
5Junior Cadougan6-18.72.9
13Vander Blue6-414.33.3

Analysis: Marquette is a true scrappy unit that exceeds its individual talent with great team play. If anyone comes close to a star, it’s “Twinkle Toes’’ Davante Gardner, who is an XXXXL if there ever was one at 6 feet 8 inches, 290 pounds. But he has great footwork that puts that big body in the right places. He nails his free throws, too (84 percent). Vander Blue (14.3) is a guard who doesn’t shoot threes well but gets to the basket. Davidson will make this a close game. Wildcats coach Bob McKillop is exceptional; his team shoots well, plays smart, and defends tenaciously. Jake Cohen, a 6-10 center, can hurt opponents inside and out.

GONZAGA vs. SOUTHERN

Regional: West. Time: 4:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 1. Gonzaga (31-2/10-0); 16. Southern (23-9/8-2)

No.SouthernHt.PPGRPG
32Brandon Moore6-106.27.1
44 Javan Mitchell6-99.54.9
2Derick Beltran6-415.94.5
5Jameel Grace6-09.22.8
10Cameron Monroe6-22.11.4
 Gonzaga   
20Elias Harris6-814.97.4
30Mike Hart6-61.93.5
13Kelly Olynyk7-017.57.2
4Kevin Pangos6-211.52.7
5Gary Bell Jr.6-19.22.2

Analysis: Southern has had a great season, as the program revived to make it back to the tournament. Forward Malcolm Miller is a terrific player, but he’s not going to be enough to prevent a rout. The Zags are the most gifted offensive team in the tournament, with great outside play from guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell and skilled inside play from Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.

OKLAHOMA ST. vs. OREGON

Regional: Midwest. Time: 4:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 5. Oklahoma St. (24-8/7-3); 12. Oregon (26-8/7-3)

No.OregonHt.PPGRPG
1Dominic Artis6-18.52.4
14Arsalan Kazemi6-79.39.5
21 Damyean Dotson6-510.83.6
25EJ Singler6-611.64.9
55Tony Woods6-119.53.7
 Oklahoma St.   
2Le’Bryan Nash6-714.14.1
20Michael Cobbins6-86.96.2
44Philip Jurick6-112.95.9
22Markel Brown6-315.34.5
33Marcus Smart6-415.45.7

Analysis: This is the chance for Oregon to prove the selection committee wrong for its seed, but it’s not going to be easy. Okie State has the second-best freshman in the country in Marcus Smart, a sleek slasher who’s not a great shooter but leads by example. His effort and decision-making are top-notch. Oregon lost freshman point guard Dominic Artis briefly and slumped. He’s back and healthy. The Ducks’ leading scorer is E.J. Singler, younger brother of former Duke player Kyle Singler.

LOUISVILLE vs. N.C. A&T

Regional: Midwest. Time: 6:50 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 1. Louisville (29-5/10-0); 16. N.C. A&T (20-16/6-4)

No.N.C. A&THt.PPGRPG
1Adrian Powell6-612.55.1
5Jean Louisme6-49.73.4
30Lamont Middleton6-312.44.1
31Austin Witter6-86.17.1
34Bruce Beckford6-77.94.3
 Louisville   
20Wayne Blackshear6-58.03.2
21 Chane Behanan6-69.96.6
10Gorgui Dieng6-1110.09.9
2Russ Smith6-018.13.6
3Peyton Siva6-010.02.3

Analysis: The Cardinals are the overall No. 1 seed after winning the Big East tournament in impressive fashion, rallying like one of Rick Pitino’s racehorses to win going away. The Cardinals have two sometimes stupendous, sometimes erratic guards in Russ Smith (18.1) and Peyton Siva (10.0) plus an intimidating shot-blocker in Gorgui Dieng that helps the full-court press. This will amount to a scrimmage in preparation for the tough games ahead. North Carolina A&T defeated Liberty Tuesday for its first NCAA Tournament win in 10 tries.

MICHIGAN vs. SOUTH DAKOTA ST.

Regional: South. Time: 7:15 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 4. Michigan (26-7/5-5); 13. SDSU (25-9/7-3)

No.SDSUHt.PPGRPG
34Tony Fiegen6-710.15.5
42Jordan Dykstra6-812.57.9
3Nate Wolters6-422.75.6
12Brayden Carlson6-48.73.7
25Chad White6-610.04.0
 Michigan   
1Glenn Robinson III6-610.75.4
52Jordan Morgan6-85.14.7
10 Tim Hardaway Jr. 6-614.84.7
11Nik Stauskas6-611.53.2
3Trey Burke6-019.23.1

Analysis: This is an upset possibility, but it will take a huge effort from South Dakota State’s do-everything guard Nate Wolters, who leads his team in scoring (22.7) and assists (5.8) and also grabs a decent amount of rebounds (5.6). He averages only 2.3 turnovers. Michigan has to stop him from having a career game. It’ll be interesting to see how the Wolverines’ 1-3-1 zone affects him. Chances are, he could get loose for some 3-pointers. Michigan could dominate with its great trio of guards — Trey Burke (19.2), Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.8), and Glenn Robinson III (10.7) — plus Canadian sharpshooter Nik Stauskas (11.5).

ARIZONA vs. BELMONT

Regional: West. Time: 7:20 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 6. Arizona (25-7/5-5); 11. Belmont (26-6/8-2)

No.BelmontHt.PPGRPG
2Blake Jenkins6-79.74.7
3Kerron Johnson6-113.73.2
14JJ Mann6-610.54.7
21Ian Clark6-318.13.3
30Trevor Noack6-712.55.5
 Arizona   
3Kevin Parrom6-68.34.9
44Solomon Hill6-713.45.3
35 Kaleb Tarczewski7-06.56.1
2Mark Lyons6-114.81.9
13Nick Johnson6-311.73.5

Analysis: Belmont was a tournament regular from the Atlantic Sun, then moved to the Ohio Valley this season and won that conference. The committee was impressed and gave it a decent seed. The Bruins play through two really good guards, Ian Clark (18.1) and Kerron Johnson (13.7). Clark makes 46 percent of his threes. Arizona slumped a bit at the end, losing three of its last five, but the Wildcats are very talented, especially guard Mark Lyons (14.8) and forward Solomon Hill (13.4).

UNLV vs. CALIFORNIA

Regional: East. Time: 7:27 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 5. UNLV (25-9/7-3);  12. California (20-11/7-3)

No.CaliforniaHt.PPGRPG
35Richard Solomon6-108.46.6
45David Kravish6-98.16.9
1Justin Cobbs6-315.53.5
3Tyrone Wallace6-47.24.5
23Allen Crabbe6-618.76.0
 UNLV   
15Anthony Bennett6-816.18.1
43Mike Moser6-87.26.0
3Anthony Marshall6-310.54.0
5Katin Reinhardt6-510.12.0
13Bryce Dejean-Jones6-510.14.5

Analysis: Back on Dec. 9, these teams played a tight game, with UNLV winning, 76-75. It was also the game in which UNLV star forward Mike Moser was injured. A high-flying high scorer, he hasn’t been the same since he returned, and that has changed Vegas from a Final Four contender to maybe a Sweet 16 team. The Rebels still have the best freshman in the country in rugged forward Anthony Bennett (16.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and plenty of offensive threats. Cal is symbolized by its star Allen Crabbe (18.7), who plays well enough to be Pac 12 Player of the Year but can disappear at times.

COLORADO ST. vs. MISSOURI

Regional: Midwest. Time: 9:20 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 8. Colorado St. (25-8/6-4); 9. Missouri (23-10/6-4)

No.MissouriHt.PPGRPG
21Laurence Bowers6-814.46.2
32Jabari Brown6-513.73.5
42Alex Oriakhi6-911.18.6
1Phil Pressey5-1111.63.4
5Keion Bell6-411.14.3
 Colorado St.   
4Pierce Hornung6-58.79.2
44Greg Smith6-611.15.3
45Colton Iverson6-1014.79.8
10 Wes Eikmeier6-312.71.7
22Dorian Green 6-212.82.6

Analysis: This will be the war on the boards. Colorado State leads the nation with a plus-12.1 rebounding margin, and Missouri is third at plus-9.6. It will be ColoState’s Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung vs. Missouri’s Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers. Heck, the guards on both teams rebound, too. To win, Colorado State needs to slow down Missouri point guard Phil Pressey (7 apg), who can destroy defenses if he’s allowed to take the ball anywhere he wants. And that’s what he tries to do.

VCU vs. AKRON

Regional: South. Time: 9:45 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 5. VCU (26-8/7-3); 12. Akron (26-6/8-2)

No.AkronHt.PPGRPG
1Demetrius Treadwell6-711.47.9
23Chauncey Gilliam6-55.51.6
44Zeke Marshall7-013.07.1
2Brian Walsh6-57.53.6
12Carmelo Betancourt5-112.0.8
 VCU   
10Darius Theus6-37.11.6
11Rob Brandenberg6-210.42.7
15Juvonte Reddic6-914.48.3
21Treveon Graham6-515.56.0
30Troy Daniels6-412.13.0

Analysis: VCU is known for its full-court pressure, and Akron just lost its starting point guard, Alex Abreu, to suspension after he was arrested for buying marijuana. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. With Abreu, the Zips are a formidable unit that put together a 19-game winning streak. Their 7-0 center, Zeke Marshall (13 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.7 bpg), can be a force. VCU’s pressure game can make things miserable for opponents, especially Briante Weber, who averages 2.8 steals per game. Without Abreu, that’s almost sure to happen.

NEW MEXICO vs. HARVARD

Regional: West. Time: 9:50 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 3. New Mexico (29-5/9-1); 14. Harvard (19-9/7-3)

No.HarvardHt.PPGRPG
25Kenyatta Smith6-85.44.2
15Christian Webster6-58.42.9
1Siyani Chambers6-012.92.6
00Laurent Rivard6-510.43.7
23Wesley Saunders6-516.54.1
 New Mexico   
41Cameron Bairstow6-99.65.9
53Alex Kirk7-011.97.9
3Hugh Greenwood6-37.25.1
10Kendall Williams6-413.53.6
21Tony Snell6-712.62.7

Analysis: Harvard’s NCAA bid was a great reward for the unexpected Ivy League title. The Crimson would be wise to turn this into a half-court game, because they’re going to be giving away size and speed. An upset would be shocking. New Mexico has legitimate Final Four aspirations because of a high-octane offense sparked by guard Kendall Williams, who’s talented enough to score 46 points in a game but also leads the team in assists.

SYRACUSE vs. MONTANA

Regional: East. Time: 9:57 Seed, record/last 10: 4. Syracuse (26-9/5-5); 13. Montana (25-6/8-2)

No.MontanaHt.PPGRPG
24Spencer Coleman6-67.63.6
32Kareem Jamar6-514.56.0
45Eric Hutchison6-93.32.1
5Will Cherry6-113.94.2
10Jordan Gregory6-28.33.3
 Syracuse   
5C.J. Fair6-814.47.1
1 Michael Carter-Williams6-612.04.8
43James Southerland6-813.95.2
25Rakeem Christmas6-95.34.7
20Brandon Triche6-413.83.4

Analysis: Some experts see this as a possible upset because of Montana’s guards, Kareem Jamar (14.5 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Will Cherry (13.9). Unfortunately, the Grizzlies lost their leading scorer, Mathias Ward, to an injury in February. On paper, Syracuse’s physical presence appears to overwhelm Montana; the Grizzlies don’t have anyone who can match up with silky-smooth 6-8 forward C.J. Fair or even a pair of 6-4 guards in Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams (watch him dribble; it’s as if he’s bending over to pick up something off the court)..

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