Wichita State vs. Louisville
Wichita State has been successful this season by setting the pace on both ends of the floor. Tough on-ball defense combined with some physical play has made the Shockers a solid match-up against most teams. On the offensive end, don’t let Louisville pressure the ball out high. Malcolm Armstead needs to get the team into its offense and keep the ball moving. Ball movement should free up space for Cleanthony Early to get to the basket and for Carl Hall to get position around the basket. Defensively, the guards have to commit to pressuring the ball or forcing Louisville to beat them from the perimeter. They can’t get caught in the middle. Hall will need to use his strength to force Louisville bigs away from the lane, and most importantly, he can’t pick up quick fouls.
Russ Smith and Peyton Siva will look to push the ball as quickly as possible, and in many cases, no one is going to stay with them. In the halfcourt, look to get the ball to Gorgui Dieng and let him help facilitate the offense. Dieng’s ability to hit the 15 foot jumper should free up space along the baseline for Chane Behanan, as well as space for shooters on the perimeter. They battled through the Kevin Ware injury last week, but now they are confronted with the lack of backcourt depth. Siva and Smith need to avoid foul trouble, or Wichita State could turn up the pressure on defense.
Michigan vs. Syracuse
The story all week has been about how Michigan will beat the length of the Syracuse zone. I think they have the perfect weapons to do this. The key is finding ways to allow Trey Burke to get into the middle of the zone. Look to rotate Mitch McGary and Glen Robinson III at the high post and set screens on the top defenders. If Burke has trouble getting into the zone, get it to the high post and allow McGary to drive and try and draw contact or Robinson can hit the mid-range jumper. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas will need to constantly watch the movement of the zone and try and hit the open spots quickly if they want to get their jumpers going. Defensively, match-ups on Syracuse will be important. Keep Triche and Carter-Williams out of the lane, and make sure someone rotates back on defense at all times to slow up the Orange transition. Keep an eye on Southerland, and play physical with Fair.
Michael Carter-Williams cannot settle for jump shots. Look to exploit mismatches on the defensive end and get into the lane. Most importantly – finish at the rim. You know he will take advantage of transition opportunities created by turnovers at the top of the zone. Make smart decisions and look for the trailing shooters, especially James Southerland. Brandon Triche needs to get his confidence early and set the tone by attacking the basket and looking to draw fouls. CJ Fair should find opportunities along the baseline area if MCW gets into the lane. Make sure to go strong. If Michigan plays him to drive, have confidence in the jumper.