A look forward to the Sweet Sixteen, which begins Thursday:
If you're a local college hoops junkie, you'll be in heaven this week. The regional semis scheduled for Thursday in TD Garden are (on paper at least) exceptional matchups, both pitting a Big East standout against a Big Ten power. Syracuse and Wisconsin play the opener, followed by a Cincinnati-Ohio State nightcap that harkens back to the early 1960s, when this was one of the best rivalries in sports; OSU won it all in '60 while Cincy finished third, but the Bearcats won the next two titles with victories over the John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas-led Buckeyes.
Those who love havoc still have three double-digit seeds for which to root. No. 13 Ohio can be the darling of the bunch if it knocks off what might be a shorthanded North Carolina squad (see below). Xavier looks to become the 10th 10-seed to reach the Elite 8 and N.C. State is seeking to become the second 11-seed in as many years (and fourth in tournament history) to get to the Final Four.
We are (without) Marshall
The Tar Heels looked every bit like the top seed that they are in easily dispatching Vermont and Creighton to reach the Sweet 16. However, they may be without star point guard Kendall Marshall going forward. Marshall, who averaged 14.5 points and 10.5 assists in the two wins, is recovering from surgery to repair a broken right wrist. Without Marshall at the wheel, this shiny Cadillac could veer off course.