Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, left, laughs while teammate Deshaun… (Elise Amendola / Associated…)
No. 1 Syracuse (34-2) vs. No. 2 Ohio State (30-7), 3:45 p.m., Channel 2: Wisconsin hit 14 three-pointers but still lost to Syracuse on Thursday night. It's hard to see Ohio State being that hot from beyond the arc, but the Buckeyes also have a much better frontcourt than the Badgers. The key guy for Ohio State is going to be point guard Aaron Craft, not necessarily because of his shooting but with his ability to probe the Orange's defense. Syracuse has received big-time bench production in the tournament, and solid games from guard Dion Waiters and forward James Southerland would go a long way toward helping Syracuse win this. It's hard to overstate how important the rebound battle is going to be in determining the outcome.
No. 4 Louisville (29-9) vs. No. 7 Florida (26-10), 1:15 p.m., Channel 2: Louisville Coach Rick Pitino and Florida Coach Billy Donovan have a long relationship; Pitino was Donovan's college coach at Providence (this is the 25th anniversary season of Providence's run to the 1987 Final Four behind Donovan), and Donovan later was an assistant at Kentucky under Pitino. Both coaches have received top-notch defensive play from their teams in the tournament. Louisville center Gorgui Dieng is a major presence in the paint, but he can be foul-prone, and it's a lot easier to score against Louisville when he is on the bench. Neither team is dominant on the boards, so second-chance points will be a big factor. Florida generally is the more efficient offensive team, but Louisville does a nice job of grinding away and making things ugly. The Gators are vastly better from three-point range, and while they have won three NCAA games without being on from the outside, it's hard to see them beating the Cardinals unless they hit at least eight or nine three-pointers. Florida also has to keep Cardinals point guard Peyton Siva somewhat in check.