No. 2 Miami vs. No. 7 Illinois
The Miami (FL) Hurricanes did exactly what they needed to do on Friday evening, showcasing their potential as a national championship contender by simply routing No. 15 Pacific. Now before the Hurricanes get too excited, it’s just one step towards their overall goal.
The Hurricanes’ next test will be No. 7 Illinois, who blew a 16-point halftime lead in a matter of minutes on Friday evening. Things then flipped right back in favor of the Illini shortly thereafter however, as No. 10 Colorado simply went ice cold from the field.
It’s an interesting third round match-up as part of the East Region, but Miami needs to showcase their ability to be dominate and put Illinois away early. That will be a key trend in this 40-minute battle.
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 Creighton
Does Doug McDermott have some magic within him?
McDermott, who was the second leading scorer in the country this past season, scored 27 points in the Bluejays nail-biting victory over No. 10 Cincinnati. Now however, the competition gets stiff with the Duke Blue Devils, who have all the aspirations of cutting down the nets in the coming weeks.
McDermott’s production will obviously be key, but remember he must now oppose the winningest coach in Division I history in Mike Krzyzewski. This won’t be a cake walk for Duke, that’s for sure, but these are the kind of NCAA Tournament tests that separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Senior leadership must be crucial for Duke in this one, but don’t count Creighton.