Inside the matchup: SC vs Marquette


Duke: The Blue Devils started the season No. 1 in the country for the eighth time, but the road to this championship has been uneven.

Duke and MI have emerged as public darlings at Las Vegas sportsbooks, attracting big bets heading into the first two full days of the NCAA tournament.

Coates was expected to be a major part of whatever success the Gamecocks have in the tournament. Frank Martin's experience in big games (he led K-State to the Elite Eight in 2010) comes through, and the Gamecocks earn their first NCAA win since the '70s. The Gaels ran up a 28-4 record, and three of those losses came against Gonzaga, the West Coast Conference champion and one of the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Two-time SEC player of the year A'ja Wilson thinks she might just put her arm around her coach to calm her down.

Watch out for: the best 6 (Cincinnati) and 10 (Wichita State) seeds in the tournament.

Best defender: Not only was Sindarius Thornwell the Southeastern Conference's Player of the Year and top scorer, he was also one of the league's top defenders as evidenced by his inclusion on the SEC's All-Defensive Team. Now they try to abolish another dry spell, this one a yoke carried by the USC program for over four decades, stretching back to the glory years under its greatest coach. If the Bucs aren't turning the ball over themselves, they can make a run in the tournament.

Xavier's J.P. Macura (55) fouls Marquette's Jajuan Johnson (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Cincinnati. A member of the All-Big East first team, he also ranks third on the team with 15.3 points per game.

The North Carolina Tar Heels' basketball program has had the pleasure of consisting of basketball greatness.

Marquette's only other time as a No. 10 seed came in 1997, when it lost in the first round to Providence in Charlotte, N.C. He has gone to the NCAA Tournament with UNLV (2013), Southern Cal (2016) and now with the Golden Eagles. Villanova has learned how to play - and win - despite that handicap, which is why they have the No. 1 overall seed.

Afterward Herrmann, whose team attempted four 3-pointers compared to 20 for Valvano's group, mused about effective use of the bonus field goal, newly made permanent that season. The senior shooter is by far South Carolina's most important player and has easily led the Gamecocks in scoring to help fuel their offense. The most unsafe team to the Blue Devils is the Wildcats, simply because they have been clawing their way through tough Pac-12 competition to get to this point. I think the spread on this game is right where it should be a -2, and I think SC wins by just a hair 68-65.

What we found was that, what might have been true 30 years ago, and might be true for games involving other teams, isn't true for Duke and its opponents this season.

The Eastern Regional's Sweet Sixteen matchups will consist of Villanova vs. Virginia and SMU vs. Duke on the bottom half of the regional.

Still, he's happy to be at that venue. "I'm not going to say it's not fair, but they have to figure out a different way, especially when we played ourselves into that No. 3 number one seed". "We've won in that building".

There's been an obsessive focus by the Tar Heels in their demand for revenge, an unrelenting need to return to the national championship game and make amends for a lost trophy that momentarily grazed their fingertips. They play Troy in the first round matchup, a game they should be able to handle with relative ease.