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Friday's NCAA tournament games

A game-by-game look at semifinals in the South and Midwest Regionals.

March 22, 2012|By Mike Huguenin |
  • Indiana center Cody Zeller, looking to pass against Jared Berggren and Wisconsin in the Big Ten Conference tournament, will battle fellow freshman Anthony Davis of Kentucky in a regional semifinal on Friday.
Indiana center Cody Zeller, looking to pass against Jared Berggren and… (Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)


No. 3 Baylor (29-7) vs. No. 10 Xavier (23-12), 4:15 p.m., Channel 2: A big question for Baylor always is whether its talented frontcourt is going to show up. Quincy Acy, Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller average in double figures, but their lack of consistency is startling. Baylor enjoys a decided height advantage over Xavier, but the Musketeers are more physical. Xavier needs a big game from 7-footer Kenny Frease, who dominated Lehigh in the second round. Frease isn't the most athletic big guy, but he can carve out space with his body and could do some damage. The point guard matchup between Baylor's Pierre Jackson and Xavier's Tu Holloway should be excellent. Both can get into the lane at will and also make the three-pointer. Baylor's Brady Heslip made nine three-pointers in the win over Colorado, and when he is that hot from the outside, Baylor is tremendously difficult to defend. Xavier's perimeter defense has been solid, for the most part. Xavier's Mark Lyons is a three-point threat too, and Baylor's short guards can be exploited on the perimeter.

No. 1 Kentucky (34-2) vs. No. 4 Indiana (27-8), 6:45 p.m., Channel 2: Indiana beat Kentucky, 73-72, on Dec. 10 on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Christian Watford, and the Wildcats have lost once since. If Indiana is to pull the upset, it needs to make its three-pointers. The Hoosiers are second nationally in three-point percentage at 43.7; Kentucky allows foes to make 31.7% from beyond the arc. Both have excellent freshman centers in Cody Zeller (Indiana) and Anthony Davis (Kentucky), but as good as Zeller has been this season, Davis has played at a different level, especially on defense. Davis had only seven points in the first meeting, and it would seem a priority to make sure he gets touches early in this one. Indiana generally rebounds well, but can the Hoosiers keep the Wildcats off the offensive glass? Indiana's ballhandling also bears watching; the Hoosiers struggled against Virginia Commonwealth's attacking defense.


No. 1 North Carolina (31-5) vs. No. 13 Ohio (29-7), 4:45 p.m., TBS: The biggest story line in this one, of course, is the health of North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall, who suffered a broken right wrist (his non-shooting hand) in Sunday's win over Creighton. Ohio does a great job of forcing turnovers, 7.2 a game, which is tied for fifth nationally. If Marshall plays or even if he doesn't, expect the Bobcats to swarm. The Tar Heels are much bigger and should control the paint and boards on both ends. Ohio is not all that proficient from long distance, but the Bobcats have to make three-pointers if they're going to win this. Keep an eye on Nick Kellogg, who makes 41.4% from beyond the arc. Ohio wants to keep this in the high 60s or low 70s.

No. 2 Kansas (29-6) vs. No. 11 North Carolina State (24-12), 7:15 p.m., TBS: Kansas did not play all that well in beating Purdue, and North Carolina State's balance — five guys average in double figures — make it tough to defend. Still, the Wolfpack can be lax defensively at times. Both teams generally control the boards, so the rebound battle will be important. Kansas could use some production from 7-footer Jeff Withey, who has been a relative non-entity (averaging 5.5 points, 5.5 rebounds) in the NCAAs. When he can score, it makes it that much tougher for opponents to focus on star forward Thomas Robinson. And keep an eye on Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor, who becomes too shot-happy at times. N.C. State would much rather Taylor be shooting than Robinson. The Wolfpack needs center Richard Howell to avoid fouls; it loses a lot of athleticism up front when he is on the bench. He has committed four fouls in each of the last five games but hasn't fouled out since Feb. 18, nine games ago. He has fouled out five times, and the Wolfpack has lost four of those. N.C. State needs Scott Wood to make some three-pointers.

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