A look at Saturday’s matchups, with each school’s likely starters and analysis from Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan:
Regional: East. Time: 4:30 p.m Seed, record/last 10: 3. Marquette (26-8/8-2); 4. Syracuse (29-9/7-3).
Analysis: Both teams looked overpowering in regional semifinal victories, with Marquette plowing over Miami and Syracuse befuddling Indiana. Marquette is lucky; the Fightin’ McGuires should have lost to Davidson their first game; could have lost to Butler in the second, but then crushed Miami by sheer will Thursday. No team plays harder. They also get the ball inside effectively, especially to Davante “Twinkle Toes’’ Gardner, who comes of the bench and is the team’s second-leading scorer (11.4 ppg). Marquette entered as the worst 3-point shooting team in the tournament, but it has been decent in three wins. Syracuse has yet to be seriously challenged. The Orange have regained their shooting touch and have flummoxed opponents with their 2-3 zone. When these teams met in the regular season in Milwaukee, Marquette won, 74-71, as Gardner scored 26 points, making all seven of his field goal attempts and 12 of 13 free throws. Indiana couldn’t compete with Syracuse near the basket; Marquette has already proven it can. Syracuse blocked 11 Indiana shots, but had only three in the loss in Milwaukee. Talent-wise there’s no comparison, Syracuse is better. So it will be talent vs. effort. I’m liking effort right now.
Regional: West. Time: 7 p.m. Seed, record/last 10: 2. Ohio State (29-7/10-0); 9. Wichita State (29-8/7-3).
|32||Lenzelle Smith Jr.||6-4||9.3||4.9|
Analysis: That Ohio State is on the verge of consecutive Final Four appearances is a surprise, but coach Thad Matta has done a tremendous job blending veterans such as Thomas and Craft with younger, developing players such as LaQuinton Ross (who hit the winner Thursday) and Shannon Scott (just realized he’s the son of former NBA star Charlie Scott, who played for the Celtics and was the first black player at North Carolina). The Buckeyes have hit their stride at the right time; they played together on the offensive end and tough on defense. Their big men are just average. Wichita State is well-coached by Gregg Marshall and the Wheat Shockers love to get teams in physical battles and half-court games. This will probably be low scoring, but the Buckeyes will be able to meet the physical challenge and advance.