Questions we want answered tonight in the quarterfinals
It will be awfully tough to top this afternoon’s quarterfinal action, but let’s try anyhow. Here are a couple questions we want answered in tonight’s games:
Game 3: Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Can the Irish win when the shots aren’t falling?
The Bearcats boast the league’s best defense and limited POY Ben Hansbrough to jus 1 of 8 from the field in a 66-58 Notre Dame win Jan. 19. All five of the Irish’s losses have come when they shoot less than 34 percent from behind that arc.
Hansbrough has taken over games with isolation, but those were at home and against much softer defenses. We’d like to see how they respond in a hostile environment – the mostly neutral MSG crowd will quickly root on the underdog if it’s close — in need of a drive or defensive stop late in the game.
Line: ND -3
Sheen meter: “Panicking is for amateurs and morons.” Those are two things student athletes at Notre Dame are not. This all-upperclassmen starting lineup has been through the whole tournament grind before, but they’re still searching for national respect. They’ve always been an easy out with the right matchup in the NCAA tournament, well here’s a chance to show they can win a matchup that may not be totally in their favor.
Prediction: Notre Dame 69, Cincinnati 62
Game 4: Marquette vs. Louisville, 9:20 (ESPN)
Can Preston Knowles rise up on the national stage?
The Cardinals’ leading scorer is talked about only in Big East circles. That could change with a few 20-point performances at the world’s most famous arena. We’ll see how much moxy this senior has after committing an unfathomable foul at the end of Saturday’s game at West Virginia.
Line: Louisville -3.5
Sheen meter: “I can’t pee in front of you guys.” We just don’t think this Cardinals team is built for the big stage. It’s lost seven of its last nine away from home.
Prediction: Marquette brings as much intensity as any team in the conference. It’s a direct result of animated coach Buzz Williams. Jimmy Butler shuts down Knowles and Marquette rocks the offensive boards like it did against West Virginia.
Marquette 75, Louisville 65