Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) - The 2013 NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 will
begin in the East Region, as the third-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles and the
second-seeded Miami-Florida Hurricanes square off at the Verizon Center on
Flying a little under the radar this season, the Golden Eagles are making
their third straight appearance in the Sweet 16, tying them with Kansas,
Florida and Ohio State. However, unlike those three teams the Golden Eagles
have not advanced past this round since a Final Four trip in 2003. The path
here has been a tough one for the Golden Eagles who won on a last-second layup
from Vander Blue in the second round and barely held on for a 74-72 win over
Butler on Saturday in third-round action.
Miami has not been a regular in the Sweet 16 with this marking the team's
second trip ever and first since 2000. The Hurricanes will be entering
unfamiliar territory with a win as they have never advanced past this round
previously. The Hurricanes blew past 15th-seed Pacific, 78-49, in the second
round but had a bit more trouble with Illinois on Sunday, surviving a 63-59
decision behind the unlikely heroics of Rion Brown. The ACC regular season and
tournament champions have won seven straight contest and are within range of
their first ever 30-win season.
These teams have met four times previously with each team coming out with a
pair of victories on their home court. The winner of this contest will face
either top-seed Indiana or fourth-seed Syracuse in Saturday's Elite Eight.
Against a team that beat it on a buzzer beater in November, Marquette was able
to seal the deal this time around when it took down Butler in the third round.
The contest was another one that came down to the last possession. The
Bulldogs forced a turnover with two seconds left and got the ball to Andrew
Smith on the inbounds pass. However, strong defense forced Smith to put up an
awkward shot that was well off the mark.
Blue (14.8 ppg) has really risen to the occasion during the first two games,
making big plays and draining huge shots down the stretch in both contests. He
followed up his game-winning layup against Davidson by netting a game-high 29
points against Butler, including a key 3-pointer with just over a minute to
play that tied the contest. Although Blue has clearly grabbed hold of a
leadership role for the Golden Eagles they are normally a team with a ton of
balance up and down the roster. Davante Gardner (11.3 ppg) was the Big East
Sixth Man of the Year and Jamil Wilson (9.7 ppg), Chris Otule (5.0 ppg) and
Junior Cadougan (8.6 ppg) have all made some big plays during the tournament
With just over a minute to play Miami was staring at a second-round
disappointment as it trailed, 55-54, against Illinois. However, after a rather
difficult game Shane Larkin came through when it mattered and nailed a 3-
pointer to put the Hurricanes back in the lead for good, as they hit 6-of-6
free throws in the final minute.
The Hurricanes found themselves getting a big contribution from an unlikely
source in the second round when Brown (6.5 ppg) went off for 21 points nailing
5-of-10 shots from beyond the arc. That type of effort can't be expected again
for the Hurricanes but getting confidence for the junior could be important
moving forward. Larkin (14.5 ppg, 4.6 apg) finished with 17 points and five
assists against Illinois as he continues to be the driving force for the
Hurricanes, after winning the ACC Player of the Year Award from conference
coaches. Durand Scott (13.2 ppg) continued his erratic streak as he followed
up a 21-point effort in the first round with just six points against Illinois,
his fourth game with less than 10 points in the last six contests. Kenny Kadji
(13.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg) had 10 points and eight rebounds on Sunday and will be a
tough matchup with his ability to spread the floor. However, the front line
for Miami will be a little thin, as center Reggie Johnson suffered an injury
in the third-round game and will not make the trip to D.C.
The Sports Network