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Cheat Sheet: Friendships, Local Stars & Other Hidden Sweet 16 Storylines

by Chris Lingebach
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Head coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers talks to Christian Watford late in the game against the Temple Owls during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. (Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Head coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers talks to Christian Watford late in the game against the Temple Owls during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Let’s do that thing where we make you sound smart about basketball again.

Here’s your cheat sheet to read up on before the start of the Sweet Sixteen Thursday night. It’s kind of like a compilation of statistics and general background on teams and key players so you can rattle off some impressive knowledge to your friends at the bar.

‘You know who you need to watch tonight? That Victor Oladipo guy for Indiana. He’s a 6’5” guard who racks up 43% from beyond the arc. He’s also a local guy. Yea, he’s from Upper Marlboro.’

High fives all around, because everybody wants to be that guy that knows everything.

Below is a collection of random facts and insights from college basketball expert Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, listed by match-up, to help ensure you’re the smartest guy watching the games tonight. Scroll through and pick something at random. No one will find out.

(3) Marquette vs. (2) Miami – 7:15 PM CBS

Coaches: Buzz Williams vs. Jim Larranaga (that guy who coached Mason to the Final Four)

Miami Team Leaders:

Kenni Kadji – Senior

Kadji is a 6’11 forward/center from Cameroon. His parents have made a small fortune back home marketing their family beer. This guy averages 7 boards a game and is usually good for a block or two. He puts up 13 ppg, but you have to watch Kadji, because he’s got range for a big man. 35% from three-point range.

Shane Larkin – Sophomore

Larkin’s a 5’11 point guard who’s been the heart and soul of this team this season. He averages 14 points per game and 4.6 assists. The obvious storyline is he’s the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, but you’re better than that, so let’s take it a little deeper.

“Last year they were really fortunate to get Shane Larkin,” Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports said. “[He] was at DePaul and was, depending on who you want to believe, was either homesick, didn’t like it there, had to get back home to Florida because of the health of a family member.”

General Team Info: Miami is a stacked team that also had a brief stint as the #1 seed during the regular season. They were also the original upset victims of Florida Gulf Coast, losing to the Eagles 63-51 in their second game of the season. While highly unlikely, a rematch in the Final Four is possible.

Marquette Team Leaders:

Vander Blue – Junior

Vander Blue, aside from having a really cool name, is a 6’4” guard and a solid mid-range shooter. He averages 14.8 points per game and 46% from the field.

Davante Gardner – Junior

Gardner is a 6’8” forward and the team’s leading rebounder, with 4.9 boards per game. He’s good for 11.3 points per game.

General Team Info: This certainly isn’t Buzz Williams’ most talented roster, emphasizing the strength of his coaching ability to get them into Sweet Sixteen for the third year in the row (some call it a SweetPeat). Another highly unlikely scenario, but if Marquette beats Miami, and Indiana handles Syracuse, Buzz Williams (current Marquette HC) will square off with Tom Crean (former Marquette HC) in the Elite Eight. Mind blown, right?

“That’s what makes Buzz Williams such a hot commodity right now as a coach, because he frankly just gets his kids to play harder than everybody else,” Jeff Goodman said. “I don’t see it being a runaway either way, because frankly Marquette makes you grind it out on every possession defensively, and then offensively they don’t score the ball extremely well.”

Related: The Seven March Madness Personalities

(6) Arizona vs. (2) Ohio State – 7:47 PM TBS

Coaches: Sean Miller vs. Thad Matta

Major Storlyine: Sean Miller and Thad Matta go way back, most recently from 2001-2004 when Miller was an assistant under Matta at Xavier. When ol’ Thad got the call-up to take over at Ohio State, Miller stepped in as the new coach of the Musketeers; and he didn’t skip a beat.

Arizona Team Leaders:

Mark Lyons – Senior

Lyons is a 6’1” guard, and transfer student from Xavier, where he spent his first three collegiate seasons. He’s good for 15.4 points per game and is an all-around solid shooter, averaging 43% from the field and 33% from three-point range. More importantly, he’s red hot, averaging 25 ppg in the tournament.

Ohio State Team Leaders:

Aaron Craft – Junior

Craft is a 6’2” guard with onions, as demonstrated when he jammed a three ball with less than a half a second left against Iowa St. last week.

Deshaun Thomas – Junior

Thomas is a 6’7” forward and the primary scorer for the Buckeyes, and the leader against the glass.

Related: Dunk City Eagles Gearing Up For Prime Time

(4) Syracuse vs. (1) Indiana – 9:45 PM CBS

Coaches: Jim Boeheim vs. Tom Crean

Syracuse Team Leaders:

C.J. Fair – Junior

Fair is a 6’8” forward from Baltimore who averages 14.5 points and 7 rebounds over 34 minutes.

James Southerland – Senior

Southerland is a reliable shooter who boasts over 45% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc.

“Syracuse’s zone is not what it’s been. They don’t have that anchor down low,” Goodman said. “The other thing is with Jim Boeheim’s team, they need James Southerland to make shots. If they don’t have him making shots, they really don’t have anybody else as a weapon from the perimeter.”

Oh, that’s a good one. Nothing says ‘I know more than you’ quite like ‘they need this guy to make shots to win.’

Indiana Team Leaders:

Cody Zeller – Sophomore

Cody is the 7-foot monster forward from Indiana who also happens to be the brother of former Tar Heels star, Tyler Zeller. He’s all over the court with 16.7 points per game, and all over the glass, averaging 8 rebounds. Beast.

Victor Oladipo – Junior

Oladipo is a D.C. product and DeMatha grad; a 6’5” guard who shoots 59% from the field and 43% from three-point range, for 13.6 points per game. He’s really coming into his own during this tournament. Look for him to be a key factor against Syracuse.

General Team Info: “This Hoosiers team is completely different from a year ago when they snuck up on everybody,” Goodman said. “They came out of nowhere, made the Sweet Sixteen, and this year it’s a team that’s taken everyone’s best shot and they’ve handled it as well as anybody could have expected them to handle it.”

Indiana is probably the deepest team left in the tournament, which means a bad night from one star can easily be covered up by another. Jim Boeheim’s zone defense is tough for college players to score against, but if there’s any team deep enough to crack the code early, it’s the Hoosiers.

Related: Coaching Overrides Upsets Deep in March

(13) La Salle vs. (9) Wichita State – 10:17 PM TBS

Coaches: Dr. John Giannini vs. Gregg Marshall

Major Storyline: Truthfully no one knows anything about either one of these teams, which has propelled both of them to where they are right now. That’s not true, but say that. It sounds mysterious kind of like ‘San Dee-Ahh-Go.’

La Salle Team Info: They’re called the Explorers. The Explores haven’t been to a Sweet Sixteen since 1955.

Wichita State Info: The Shockers’ last Sweet Sixteen appearance came in 2006, the same year George Mason blew up the world by making it to the Final Four. Also, they were being coached at the time by now-Terps head coach Mark Turgeon. Plus they’re called the Shockers

There you have it. This has been your Sweet Sixteen cheat sheet … your Sweet Sheet. It’s random. It’s chaotic. It’s just like the NCAA tournament.

Enjoy being better than your friends.

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