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Preview: Friday's NCAA Tournament games

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

ALBANY vs. DUKE

Regional: Midwest. Time: 12:15 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 2. Duke (27-5/7-3); 15. Albany (24-10/7-3).

No.AlbanyHt.PPGRPG
0Jacob Iati5-1012.11.9
10Mike Black6-014.93.2
14Sam Rowley6-69.06.3
20Gary Johnson6-63.52.3
44John Puk6-105.44.4
 Duke   
5Mason Plumlee6-1017.110.3
34Ryan Kelly6-1114.85.5
2Quinn Cook6-112.53.8
3Tyler Thornton6-13.22.2
30Seth Curry6-216.92.3

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Analysis: The Dookies were upset by Maryland in the ACC tournament but they’ll shake that off and move on easily. Albany has no one who can contend with Plumlee, a rugged individual who’s had an All-America season. The Blue Devils are well-balanced with five players in double figures. Albany can’t guard them all. The Great Danes will have to make this a half-court game and hope their leading scorers, Black and Iati have big afternoons.

WISCONSIN vs. MISSISSIPPI

Regional: West. Time: 12:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 5. Wisconsin (23-11/6-4); 12. Mississippi (26-8/8-2).

No.MississippiHt.PPGRPG
23Reginald Buckner6-99.57.4
31Murphy Holloway6-714.69.6
3Derrick Millinghaus5-105.61.4
20Nick Williams6-48.12.7
22Marshall Henderson6-220.13.1
 Wisconsin   
31Mike Bruesewitz6-66.55.3
5Ryan Evans6-610.27.4
40Jared Berggren6-1011.16.9
1Ben Brust6-111.25.2
12Traevon Jackson6-26.92.4

Analysis:  Wisconsin’s plan never changes under coach Bo Ryan. The Badgers will run their patient swing offense and try to make it a physical, half-court game. Speeding them up is the key to beating them. Mississippi has one of the most flamboyant players in college basketball in Henderson, who will work hard to get open shots, hit them, then openly celebrate. Ole Miss won its first SEC tournament championship since 1981 to force its way into the Tournament.

N.C. STATE vs. TEMPLE

Regional: East. Time: 1:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 8. N.C. State (24-10/7-3); 9. Temple (23-9/8-2).

No.TempleHt.PPGRPG
1Khalif Wyatt6-419.82.9
32R. Hollis-Jefferson6-68.96.2
33Scootie Randall6-611.86.1
2Will Cummings6-26.12.3
3Anthony Lee6-910.07.0
 N.C. State   
1Richard Howell6-812.710.7
5C.J. Leslie6-914.97.4
15Scott Wood6-612.73.0
24T.J. Warren6-812.44.2
2Lorenzo Brown6-512.14.3

Analysis: N.C. State has been maligned all season; the Wolfpack lack chemistry but they’re tremendously talented, especially Leslie. For all their troubles, this is a balanced team with five players averaging in double figures. Temple might have the coaching advantage with Fran Dunphy, but his Owls have failed to win an NCAA Tournament game while he’s been on the bench. The steady, clutch Wyatt might change that himself.

MIAMI vs. PACIFIC

Regional: East. Time: 2:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 2. Miami (27-6/7-3); 15. Pacific (22-12/8-2).

No.PacificHt.PPGRPG
13Khalil Kelley6-85.13.6
24Travis Fulton6-69.14.0
2Colin Beatty6-46.03.5
3Sama Taku6-18.33.5
11Lorenzo McCloud6-011.43.1
 Miami   
35Kenny Kadji6-1113.37.0
45Julian Gamble6-106.74.9
0Shane Larkin5-1114.63.9
1Durand Scott6-513.23.9
4T. McKinney Jones6-59.43.3

Analysis: Miami is the first team to win the ACC regular season and the tournament to not get a No. 1 seed. The Hurricanes lost to Florida Gulf Coast early in the season and Wake Forest late in the season, so they’re capable of a dud, but it’s been a sensational season. The team is well-coached by Jim Larranaga (he’s a really loud whistler so listen for it on TV) and the team plays together cohesively on both ends of the floor. Pacific coach Bob Thomason is in his 25th and final season; he’s been here before and will rely on his usual methods: patient offense, tight man-to-man defense.

CREIGHTON vs. CINCINNATI

Regional: Midwest. Time: 2:45 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 7. Creighton (27-7/7-3); 10. Cincinnati (22-11; 4-6).

No.CincinnatiHt.PPGRPG
2Titus Rubles6-75.75.8
44JaQuon Parker6-311.34.9
13Cheikh Mbodj6-105.24.7
1Cashmere Wright6-012.62.4
23Sean Kilpatrick6-416.95.2
 Creighton   
3Doug McDermott6-823.17.5
0Gregory Echenique6-99.66.6
1Austin Chatman6-07.42.6
10Grant Gibbs6-58.64.1
12Jahenns Manigat6-16.12.1

Analysis: Quite a contrast because Creighton, led by All-America forward Doug McDermott (second in the country in scoring), is one of the most skilled offensive teams in the tournament. The Bluejays plan to push the pace and get up shots quickly. Cincinnati, on the other hand, can be almost painful to watch on offense; the Bearcats make only 40 percent of their shots (Creighton leads the nation with 50 percent shooting). Cincinnati has to turn this into a taffy-pull, a half-court game where defense matters most.

KANSAS ST. vs. LA SALLE

Regional: West. Time: 3:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 4. Kansas St. (27-7/8-2); 13. La Salle (22-9/7-3).

No.La SalleHt.PPGRPG
55Ramon Galloway6-317.04.6
10Sam Mills6-27.72.6
25Jerrell Wright6-810.36.9
1D.J. Peterson6-54.12.4
3Tyreek Duren6-015.12.9
 Kansas St.   
21Jordan Henriquez6-114.64.8
1Shane Southwell6-68.13.8
13Angel Rodriguez5-1111.72.1
22Rodney McGruder6-415.75.4
55Will Spradling6-27.52.6

Analysis: Kansas State coach Bruce Weber was unfairly fired at Illinois and he’s proven his value by coaxing Kansas State to a co-regular season championship in the Big 12 with Kansas, which had at least double the talent. K-State is guard-oriented with the manic Rodriquez (5.2 asssists per game) and McGruder, who can jump over any defender to get his shot. La Salle has a quartet of great guards, led by Galloway, which will pose a defensive challenge for the Wildcats.

INDIANA vs. JAMES MADISON

Regional: East. Time: 4:10 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 1. Indiana (27-6/7-3); 16. James Madison (21-14/7-3).

No.James MadisonHt.PPGRPG
0A.J. Davis6-612.43.7
5Alioune Diouf6-54.93.4
15Andre Nation6-58.83.1
33Rayshawn Goins6-612.47.4
40Devon Moore6-411.43.7
 Indiana   
2Christian Watford6-912.56.2
40Cody Zeller7-016.98.2
1Jordan Hulls6-010.12.4
11Yogi Ferrell6-07.82.7
4Victor Oladipo6-513.66.4

Analysis: Indiana might not be the overall No. 1 team, but the Hoosiers should be the favorite to win the national championship. They’ve got it all: one of the best big men in Zeller and one of the hardest-playing guards in Oladipo, plus ball-handlers and shooters. Maybe they’re not that deep, and that could derail them. It won’t pose a problem against James Madison.

ILLINOIS vs. COLORADO

Regional: East. Time: 4:40 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 7. Illinois (22-12/6-4); 10. Colorado (21-11/6-4).

No.ColoradoHt.PPGRPG
21Andre Roberson6-710.911.3
2Xavier Johnson6-69.04.8
0Askia Booker6-112.43.5
25Spencer Dinwiddie6-615.63.2
40Josh Scott6-1010.35.5
 Illinois   
42Tyler Griffey6-97.13.3
32Nnanna Egwu6-116.44.6
1D.J. Richardson6-312.43.9
13Tracy Abrams6-110.63.5
3Brandon Paul6-416.64.4

Analysis: These teams are really similar. Both had quick starts: Illinois was 12-0 with a win over Gonzaga and Colorado started 10-2; both leveled off during the conference season, and both rely on a pair of good guards. Neither team has a great inside game. Illinois’s Paul has played like an All-American at times. Paul and Richardson are a potent unit. A pair of sophomore guards, Booker and Dinwiddie, are the difference-makers for the Buffs. It might be too simple, but it could be the team with the most points in the paint wins.

GEORGETOWN vs. FLA. GULF COAST

Regional: South. Time: 6:50 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 2. Georgetown (25-6/8-2); 15. Florida Gulf Coast (24-10/8-2). 

No.Florida Gulf CoastHt.PPGRPG
0Brett Comer6-37.93.1
2Bernard Thompson6-314.04.4
12Eric McKnight6-96.74.6
20Chase Fieler6-812.25.4
25Sherwood Brown6-415.36.4
 Georgetown   
22Otto Porter Jr.6-816.37.4
34Nate Lubick6-87.25.4
3Mikael Hopkins6-96.02.9
5Markel Starks6-212.51.8
55Jabril Trawick6-55.72.8

Analysis: A mismatch on paper. Gulf Coast has no one who can deal with Porter, one of the top 10 players in America. Porter has a tremendous all-around game; he will be able to overpower Gulf Coast inside but he’s also unselfish, a great decision-maker (he averages 1.5 turnovers per game), and he can shoot it from outside (42 percent on 3-pointers, so he only takes good ones). Gulf Coast did beat Miami in November, so an upset is not impossible.

OHIO STATE vs. IONA

Regional: West. Time: 7:15 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 2. Ohio State (26-7/9-1); 15. Iona (20-13/6-4).

No.IonaHt.PPGRPG
0Taaj Ridley6-78.25.5
2Lamont Jones6-023.03.1
3Tavon Sledge5-95.62.9
13David Laury6-813.110.4
22Sean Armand6-416.65.1
 Ohio St.   
1Deshaun Thomas6-719.56.2
12Sam Thompson6-77.43.2
32Lenzelle Smith Jr.6-49.54.9
23Amir Williams6-113.84.0
4Aaron Craft6-29.93.6

Analysis: This has a chance to be a fun game. Iona disdains defense, so Ohio State should score a lot of points. That’s just the way the Gaels like it because they’re second in the nation at 80.7 points per game. It’s pedal to the metal behind two skilled guards in “Momo” Jones (116 assists and 110 turnovers) and Armand. On a really good night, the Gaels are capable of pulling off the upset. Most likely, Ohio State should use its tough man-to-man defense, led by Craft, to control the game.

NORTH CAROLINA vs. VILLANOVA

Regional: South. Time: 7:20 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 8. N. Carolina (24-10/8-2); 9. Villanova (20-13/6-4).

No.VillanovaHt.PPGRPG
22JayVaughn Pinkston6-613.14.9
32James Bell6-68.74.2
13Mouphtaou Yarou6-109.77.8
4Darrun Hilliard6-611.22.7
15Ryan Arcidiacono6-312.02.1
 North Carolina   
35Reggie Bullock6-714.36.6
43 James McAdoo6-914.47.4
1Dexter Strickland6-38.02.5
5Marcus Paige6-18.02.7
15P.J. Hairston6-614.24.2

Analysis: For Carolina, this is a bad season but the Tar Heels still have plenty of talent, half their losses were to Duke and Miami, and another two were to Butler and Indiana. Roy Williams uses as many as 11 players and three of them, McAdoo, Bullock, and Hairston, average about 14 points per game. The Heels will try to wear down Villanova, which isn’t deep, and try to force some turnovers on what can be a shaky backcourt.

FLORIDA vs. NORTHWESTERN ST.

Regional: South. Time: 7:27 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 3. Florida (26-7/ 6-4); 14. Northwestern St. (23-8/8-2). 

No.Northwestern St.Ht.PPGRPG
3Shamir Davis6-012.52.1
32DeQuan Hicks6-714.15.8
44Gary Stewart6-45.52.9
10Patrick Robinson6-53.73.3
35O.J. Evans6-93.53.7
 Florida   
33Erik Murphy6-1012.65.5
4Patric Young6-910.36.2
3Mike Rosario6-312.32.5
1Kenny Boynton6-212.33.1
5Scottie Wilbekin6-29.03.0

Analysis: Northwestern State is the highest-scoring team in the country at 81 points per game. Florida doesn’t score as much but the Gators will be willing to run up and down. They’re going to get the chance. Northwestern presses full-court for 40 minutes. Florida’s outstanding guards Rosario, Boynton and Wilbekin should be able to deal with the pressure. Northwestern’s chance for an upset is to hope Florida’s guards aren’t focused and turn the ball over.

SAN DIEGO ST. vs. OKLAHOMA

Regional: South. Time: 9:20 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 7. San Diego St. (22-10/5-5); 10. Oklahoma (20-11/6-4).

No.OklahomaHt.PPGRPG
22Amath M’Baye6-910.15.2
24Romero Osby6-815.87.0
1Sam Grooms6-15.11.7
2Steven Pledger6-411.83.3
5Je’lon Hornbeak6-35.62.7
 San Diego St.   
20JJ O’Brien6-77.44.6
23Deshawn Stephens6-85.94.9
2Xavier Thames6-39.82.6
21Jamaal Franklin6-516.79.5
22Chase Tapley6-313.53.2

Analysis: I hate to think ahead but it sure will be an interesting second-round game if San Diego State’s Jamal Franklin matches up with Georgetown’s Otto Porter. Both of their teams are reliant on their best player. Franklin is a tough forward who does most of his damage inside the arc. Franklin leads the Aztecs in scoring, rebounding, assists (3.2) and steals. His weakness: He only makes 27 percent of his threes. Oklahoma will try to jam things inside to Osby and get to the foul line; the Sooners shot more than 100 free throws than their opponents.

NOTRE DAME vs. IOWA ST.

Regional: West. Time: 9:45 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 7. Notre Dame (25-9/6-4); 10. Iowa St. (22-11/6-4).

No.Iowa St.Ht.PPGRPG
3Melvin Ejim6-611.29.3
31Georges Niang6-712.04.5
2Chris Babb6-59.33.4
13Korie Lucious5-119.91.8
21Will Clyburn6-715.07.1
 Notre Dame   
24Pat Connaughton6-59.04.7
25Tom Knight6-105.23.5
45Jack Cooley6-913.110.3
0Eric Atkins6-211.42.6
22Jerian Grant6-513.42.8

Analysis: Iowa State leads the nation in 3-point field goals per game, so the Irish will need to guard the arc. The Cyclones are a perimeter-oriented team because they lack size and consistent inside play. Notre Dame has Cooley, one of the most underrated players in the country, and Knight. It could be a big night under the hoop for the Irish.

KANSAS vs. WESTERN KENTUCKY

Regional: South. Time: 9:50 Seed, record/last 10: 1. Kansas (29-5/9-1); 16. W. Kentucky (20-15/7-3).

No.W. KentuckyHt.PPGRPG
10Caden Dickerson6-52.41.2
14Jamal Crook6-312.03.0
20 Aleksejs Rostov6-104.72.7
44George Fant6-612.96.8
52T.J. Price6-415.34.4
 Kansas   
40Kevin Young6-87.66.6
5Jeff Withey7-013.68.4
15Elijah Johnson6-410.13.0
23Ben McLemore6-516.45.3
24Travis Releford6-611.53.7

Analysis: For the second straight season, Western is in the tournament almost by accident. The Hilltoppers were in the opposite bracket of the Sun Belt tournament from top-seeded Middle Tennessee, which was upset both years. They’ll be no match for the Jayhawks, who lead the nation in field goal percentage defense and will try to turn this into a track meet.

UCLA vs. MINNESOTA

Regional: South. Time: 9:57 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 6. UCLA (25-9/7-3); 11. Minnesota (20-12/3-7).

No.MinnesotaHt.PPGRPG
32Trevor Mbakwe6-810.08.7
33Rodney Williams6-710.35.1
1Andre Hollins6-113.93.5
11Joe Coleman6-48.73.8
20Austin Hollins6-410.63.3
 UCLA   
15S. Muhammad6-617.85.3
24Travis Wear6-1011.25.2
4Norman Powell6-45.92.1
5Kyle Anderson6-99.88.6
10Larry Drew II6-27.62.5

Analysis: To call UCLA enigmatic is accurate; you just never know how well the Bruins are going to play. The bookies in Las Vegas have no faith, making Minnesota a 3-point favorite. The LA Times is writing about the future of coach Ben Howland and it sounds like it’s in jeopardy. The Bruins just don’t have any chemistry and the best example of is leading scorer Muhammad, who has 26 assists in 31 games. He loves to hold the ball. Minnesota, meanwhile, is an experienced group and will try to win the physical battle.

 

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