There has been a great deal of conversation revolving around the disappointment of Big East teams in the NCAA tournament this season. But one team, Marquette, has the opportunity to act as a Cinderella story.
The 11th-seed Golden Eagles face traditional power and second-seed North Carolina tonight in the Sweet 16 in Newark, New Jersey.
Marquette, which finished 11th in the Big East, handily defeated Xavier in the second round, and found a way to squeak out a victory against Big East rival Syracuse in the third round.
North Carolina, meanwhile, has struggled in the tournament. Despite playing in their home state for their first two games, the Tar Heels had trouble closing out 15th-seed Long Island, who scored 87 points. In the third round, North Carolina converted on their free throws late in the game to barely edge the Washington Huskies.
The Tar Heels will have far less of a short-travel advantage playing in New Jersey tonight.
Roy Williams's squad will have to contend with Darius Johnson-Odom who is coming off two solid performances in the tournament.
The junior guard is averaging 18 points per game in the last two games, and is shooting 50 percent from the field. Johnson-Odom had three steals against Syracuse, as well.
Two other players to watch for are forwards Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder. Butler, a senior, is averaging 15.8 points on the season, but is coming off a sub-par performance against Syracuse. Crowder, a junior, scored 16 points against Syracuse.
Energetic head coach Buzz Williams will need the trio, and others, to step up against a talented Tar Heels team.
North Carolina is led by perhaps the most prolific frontcourt in college basketball.
Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller are averaging a combined 42.5 points per game and 22.9 rebounds per game this season. The trio combined for 55 points against Washington.
The frontcourt play has compensated for Roy Williams's inexperienced backcourt of Dexter Strickland and Kendall Marshall. However, they each scored 13 points against Washington, which is a big step up from their season averages.
If there is a major knock on North Carolina, it would be the offensive production from their bench. In their two tournament games, the bench has averaged just 5.5 points per game.
The winner of tonight's game plays the winner of Ohio State-Kentucky on Sunday.