By IVES GALARCEP
The NCAA Tournament Round of 16 will feature two marquee rematches from the regular season as we draw closer to identifying the four teams that will head to Alabama for the College Cup semifinals.
No. 1 seed Notre Dame faces a very familiar foe in Indiana in one of Sunday’s more high-profile match-ups. The Fighting Irish scored a 1-0 victory in Bloomington in September in a match they thoroughly dominated, out-shooting the Hoosiers 9-1 in shots on goal.
No. 5 seed Akron takes on No. 12 seed Creighton in Ohio in a re-match of a meeting that ended up tied at Creighton back in August. The two teams head into their match-up riding lengthy winning streaks, with the Zips the favorites to win the rematch in Akron.
The Round of 16’s most intriguing match-up features defending champion North Carolina taking on Cinderella story Fairleigh Dickinson. FDU eliminated Atlantic-10 champions Saint Louis to book an improbable place in the Final 16 and they will look to pull another shocker against a Tar Heels team that needed penalty kicks to hold off another Cinderella story in UMBC in the previous round.
The most action-packed match-up of the Round of 16? Try No. 2 Maryland against high-scoring Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers knocked off another ACC power in Wake Forest last round, but beating Maryland will be a tougher task. The match-up features a battle of potential MLS first-rounders in Coastal’s Pedro Ribeiro against Maryland’s Patrick Mullins and John Stertzer.
If you will be watching today’s Round of 16 action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
You can find a breakdown of all eight matches, along with links to live streams for all eight matches, below.
Enjoy the action (Round of 16 preview is after the jump).
(1) Notre Dame vs. (16) Indiana
When/Where: 3pm, at Notre Dame (Streaming live HERE)
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won, 1-0, on Sept.
Players to watch: NOTRE DAME- Dillon Powers, Ryan Finley, Harrison Shipp, Nick Besler. INDIANA- Eriq Zavaleta, Nikita Kotlov, Harrison Petts, A.J. Corrado.
Outlook: The Hoosiers should enter the match with some confidence after routing Xavier, but it is tough to forget how the Fighting Irish dominated them the last time they met. This time around the sides are playing in South Bend, and Notre Dame’s midfield should control play again. Look for the home team to cruise, though Indiana’s offense should have a little more to say than the last time these teams met.
(9) North Carolina vs. Fairleigh Dickinson
When/Where: 5pm, at North Carolina (Streaming live HERE (updated link))
Players to watch: NORTH CAROLINA- Mikey Lopez, Danny Garcia, Robbie Lovejoy, Scott Goodwin. FDU- Jacob Lissek, Antony Moore, Jack McVey, Nico Wright.
Outlook: FDU has been playing excellent team defense to frustrate opponents, and North Carolina’s recent offensive struggles could leave the champions vulnerable to FDU’s approach. That said, North Carolina’s creative tandem of Danny Garcia and Mikey Lopez should be able to break through FDU’s midfield to create chances and help the champions avoid the upset.
(3) Georgetown vs. Syracuse
When/Where: 1pm, at Georgetown (Streaming live HERE)
Players to watch: GEORGETOWN- Brandon Allen, Tommy Muller, Ian Christianson, Jimmy Nealis. SYRACUSE- Jordan Murrell, Jordan Vale, Alex Bono, Lars Muller.
Outlook: The Hoyas are such a versatile team, capable of attacking either with direct play or more patient build-ups through the midfield. Brandon Allen is a handful and will seriously test an Orangemen defense that has been bailed out quite a bit by freshman goalkeeper Alex Bono. Georgetown should win the battle in midfield and cruise to victory.
(11) Tulsa vs. San Diego
When/Where: 6pm, at Tulsa (Streaming live HERE)
Players to watch: TULSA- Omar Mata, Cristian Mata, Mark Pais, Tony Roca. SAN DIEGO- Patrick Wallen, Dan Delgado, James Cohn, Christian Duke.
Outlook: Brothers Omar and Christian Mata lead a dangerous Tulsa attack that has been able to break down some of the best defenses in the nation. San Diego’s defense has surrendered two or more goals a whopping 11 times this year. What San Diego can do is attack with the tandem of Delgado and Walden, but defense is what keeps you rolling in tournament play and Tulsa’s defense should make the difference as their offense runs wild.
(5) Akron vs. (12) Creighton
When/Where: 4:30pm, at Akron (Streaming live HERE)
Last Meeting: The teams tied, 1-1, on Aug. 31st in Nebraska.
Players to watch: AKRON- Scott Caldwell, Reinaldo Brenes, Will Trapp, DeAndre Yedlin. CREIGHTON- Eric Miller, Jose Gomez, Timo Pitter, Jose Ribas.
Outlook: The Zips had their hands full in the last round against Michigan, but Creighton should offer an even tougher challenge. The teams played a very closely-contested match back in August, but nearly three months later the teams are much different teams. The battle between Akron’s Scott Caldwell and Creighton’s Jose Gomez should be a key to deciding a winner. The nod goes to Akron, which has been the best team in the nation over the past two months.
(4) UConn vs. (13) New Mexico
When/Where: 1pm, at UConn (Streaming live HERE)
Players to watch: UCONN- Carlos Alvarez, Andre Blake, Mamadou Diouf, Stephane Diop. NEW MEXICO- Kyle Venter, Blake Smith, Devon Sandoval, Victor Rodriguez.
Outlook: The Huskies are the higher seed but this one is a much tougher match-up than the seeds suggest. The Lobos are a strong team with a dynamic attack that should test a vulnerable UConn defense that has relied on Andre Blake’s heroics far too often. Big forward Devon Sandoval is a handful up top, but Blake Smith’s work on the left wing will be key for UConn to stop. The best match-up will feature UConn forward Diouf against New Mexico centerback Venter, two players on the fringes of the MLS Generation adidas conversation. As good as the Lobos are, we’ll give the nod to UConn at home, with Andre Blake leading the way.
(10) Louisville vs. Northwestern
When/Where: 7pm, at Louisville (Streaming live HERE)
Players to watch: LOUISVILLE- Andrew Farrell, Dylan Mares, Greg Cochrane, Paolo Del Piccolo. NORTHWESTERN- Tyler Miller, Chris Ritter, Joey Calistri, Grant Wilson.
Outlook: Northwestern has some quality players on the defensive end in goalkeeper Miller and centerback Ritter, but Louisville is hitting its attacking stride and will be tough to slow down. With Andrew Farrell expected to lock down Calistri, Northwestern will struggle for chance and the Cardinals should romp.
(2) Maryland vs. (15) Coastal Carolina
When/Where: 5pm, at Maryland (Streaming live HERE)
Players to watch: MARYLAND- Patrick Mullins, John Stertzer, Schillo Tshuma, London Woodberry. COASTAL CAROLINA- Pedro Ribeiro, Ashton Bennett, Ricky Garbanzo, Justin Portillo.
Outlook: The Terps are the favorites but Coastal has enough firepower to turn this one into a shootout. Ribeiro is capable of dominating a game, but Maryland simply has more quality from top top bottom. Scouts will have their eyes on the Ribeiro-Stertzer match-up, but the match should be a showcase for Mullins, who should find plenty of chances against a vulnerable Chanticleer defense. The Terps win in what should be a high-scoring game.