Sweet Sixteen Preview
After a chalky first weekend in the NCAA Tournament that saw none of the top 3 seeds lose, we have some excellent matchups coming up this Thursday-Sunday. Below we will take a look at the Sweet Sixteen and preview each of the matchups and give a prediction on the winner. As has been the case throughout the tournament, there will be a recap following the Sweet Sixteen games and hopefully an Elite Eight preview on Saturday.
1 Gonzaga v 4 Florida State 6:09 PM CT CBS
This could very easily be the game of the entire tournament. Florida State is playing as well as anybody and boasts a deep bench full of long, athletic players. Gonzaga is one of the country’s best teams and has been one the entire season, even without star Killian Tillie. Tillie had a great game round one and a not so great game round two. His effectiveness off the bench will be huge for the Zags as Florida State’s bench has scored 77 points in their first two games of tournament play.
Prediction: Gonzaga 77 Florida State 75
2 Tennessee v 3 Purdue 6:29PM CT TBS
There’s a lot that can be said about Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, but the key to this game comes down to one man and that is Carsen Edwards. He was sensational against Villanova dropping 42 on the defending champs and simply put if he continues to play at this high level, the Boilermakers are Final Four good. The Volunteers are a much more balanced team and had a massive advantage on the interior. A complete 40 minute game is what we’ve been waiting to see from this team for a couple weeks and if they put it together they can beat Purdue.
Prediction: Tennessee 67 Purdue 60
2 Michigan v 3 Texas Tech 8:39PM CT CBS
This game features two teams that I think have opposite trending stock. I think Texas Tech’s is soaring following their dismantling of a very good Buffalo team while Michigan continues to leave a lot to be desired offensively. That said, if the Wolverines can get one of their scorers going, they can make a Final Four or better run. Texas Tech needs to keep the scoring going, Culver has been great but it is the supporting cast that has helped the Red Raiders breeze through the first two rounds.
Prediction: Texas Tech 61 Michigan 58
1 Virginia v 12 Oregon 8:59PM CT TBS
It feels like it was about time that Oregon put together a good run given all the talent they have on the roster, even without Bol Bol. But I also think they got a very fortunate draw with Wisconsin and then Irvine. Virginia matchups really well with Oregon and I expect Kyle Guy to get it going offensively.
Prediction: Virginia 67 Oregon 55
2 Michigan State v 3 LSU 6:09PM CT CBS
January, February, Izzo, April, May, etc etc is the Rothsteinism for Michigan State come March and we saw a fiery Tom already in this tournament. The Spartans easily handled Minnesota following a sluggish showing against Bradley in round one. Cassius Winston continues to play at a high level. LSU snuck by Maryland following a huge blown lead but they’ve looked pretty good considering they are still without Will Wade. The talent is there but the coaching advantage is massively in MSU’s favor.
Prediction: Michigan State 71 LSU 66
1 North Carolina v 5 Auburn 6:29PM CT TBS
Tempo, tempo, tempo. This is going to be a high-flying, fast-paced game between two teams that love to push the ball up the floor. Auburn has been red-hot of late going 7 straight games with 12+ made 3’s. Simply put if they can continue to do that they will be in great shape to upset the Heels. UNC has gotten great play from their stars, but the emergence of Nassir Little off the bench has put them at another level.
Prediction: North Carolina 87 Auburn 82
1 Duke v 4 Virginia Tech 8:39PM CT CBS
Duke survived an impressive effort from upset-minded UCF. The Blue Devils really did not play well outside of Zion in that game and were fortunate that Dawkins’ put-back didn’t fall. That said, this feels like big time bounce back game for Duke. Virginia Tech has beaten Duke already this year (without Zion and they didn’t have Justin Robinson) and are also coming off a less than stellar performance against Liberty. Zion will get his but can Blackshear and company match that production?
Prediction: Duke 77 Virginia Tech 70
2 Kentucky v 3 Houston 8:59PM CT TBS
The Cats took down American’s darling Wofford following a career day in the worst way for Fletcher Magee. If Nathan Hoover gets a few more looks this might be a different discussion right now. The good news is PJ Washington looks like he will be back against Houston. Since I saw him live in December it was clear that Washington is head and shoulders above the rest on this Kentucky team. He opens the game up so much for his teammates especially a guy like Tyler Herro who needs space. Houston is one of the best defensive teams in America and they have some really great guards. Corey Davis Jr has been playing out of his mind and slowing down the Wildcats on offense is the key.
Prediction: Houston 66 Kentucky 61