Today's games


Today's games

No. 1 Duke (27-5) vs. No. 5 Michigan State (24-6)

Time: 7:10 p.m., chs. 13, 9

How they got here: Duke def. No. 16 Delaware State, 57-46, def. No. 9 Mississippi State, 63-55; Michigan State def. No. 12 Old Dominion, 89-81, def. No. 13 Vermont, 72-61.

Tourney tidbit: This is Duke's sixth trip to the Sweet 16 in the past eight seasons. The only other school that can make that claim? Michigan State.

The buzz: This is the only Sweet 16 matchup in which both coaches have won an NCAA title. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has an excellent starting five, but his bench is shaky. Guard J.J. Redick is the leading scorer (and the leading subject of fans' ire), but big man Shelden Williams will be Duke's most important player tonight. He's Duke's only real threat in the low post, on both ends of the court. Duke's pressure defense should be able to force some turnovers, but the Blue Devils must avoid turning it over themselves. How about this stat: Duke has more turnovers (432) than assists (413). Michigan State is physical and bludgeons people on the boards (plus-7.5 rebounding margin). The Spartans also are efficient on offense, though inconsistent from long range, and much deeper than Duke. A big game from forward Paul Davis is important because he is the Spartans' only legit threat in the paint. How freshman point guard Drew Nietzel handles the pressure bears watching.

No. 2 Kentucky (27-5) vs. No. 6 Utah (29-5)

Time: 9:40 p.m.

How they got here: Kentucky def. No. 15 Eastern Kentucky, 72-64, def. No. 7 Cincinnati, 69-60; Utah def. No. 11 UTEP, 60-54, def. No. 3 Oklahoma, 67-58.

Tourney tidbit: This is the fifth time in the past 10 seasons these teams have met in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky is 4-0 so far.

The buzz: Defense-minded Kentucky is going to struggle to score tonight, but so is Utah. Kentucky lacks great individual talent, but the Wildcats are a cohesive group made up of guys who understand their roles and play defense with a passion. That said, the Wildcats still need to score and forward Chuck Hayes and guard Kelenna Azubuike are the guys who will be counted on to produce against the Utes. Kentucky has a big-time depth advantage. Utah depends heavily on center Andrew Bogut, who may be the nation's best player. He didn't score much against Oklahoma in the second round, but he did everything else (defend, rebound, pass) superbly. And that was against a team that played a physical brand of defense. For the Utes to win, guards Tim Drisdom and Marc Jackson need to avoid turnovers and hit some three-pointers. If they're not hitting from the outside, Bogut is going to be swarmed. Expect this game to be in the 60s, a pace both teams like.

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