March Madness: Sweet 16 Outlook and Predictions

By Ian Shimizu, Reporter

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The term March Madness has lived up to its name this year. With two one seeds, two seeds, and two three seeds not even seeing the second weekend, this year has reminded us why the college basketball tournament will be more exciting than the NBA playoffs ever will be, due to its unpredictability and exciting, constant action. With the first weekend over, basketball fans have had a short time to get their pulses down and can look forward into what will surely be another great weekend.

Match-ups

South Region

5. Kentucky over 9. Kansas State

UK might just have the easiest Final Four path of all time, with South seeds 1-4 ALL being upset in the first weekend and UK dodging bullets. Still, that doesn’t take away from how good this Wildcats team is. They have been in top form at a perfect time.  Dean Wade’s return would be a nice boost for Kansas State, but we know who has more talent–regardless of Wade’s return.

11. Loyola Chicago over 7. Nevada

My bracket, much like millions of others, was busted in the first few days. But I have to give myself a pat on the back after picking Loyola Chicago to go to the Sweet 16. I knew that their lockdown defense and a trio of Clayton Custer, Donte Ingram and Aundre Jackson would be a force to reckon with. This team is no fluke. Of course, Nevada has also had quite the story, overcoming double-digit leads in both of their first two tournament games. It’s going to come down to Nevada’s clever, fast-paced offense against Loyola’s stout defense. Defense wins championships, right?

West Region

4. Gonzaga over 9.Florida State

The Seminoles have two impressive wins. Don’t expect them to get three. Gonzaga is a fast-paced, efficient team, riding the hype of tourney star Zach Norvell, which will probably be too much.

3. Michigan over 7.Texas A&M

Texas A&M may have looked unbeatable against UNC, but remember this team looked very beatable against Providence and haven’t exactly had a great season overall. Both of these teams have some of the best defensive units left in the dance, and the game should play out much like Michigan’s first two. If the Wolverines can get baskets early, I say the Aggies’ run ends here.

East Region

1. Villanova over 5. West Virginia

This is probably the most intriguing of all Sweet 16 match-ups. The duel between Jevon Carter and Jalen Brunson will be a clash of future NBA talent. As good as Bob Huggins’ team can be on defense, realistically they don’t have a chance of stopping the Wildcats’ powerhouse offense. Mikal Bridges and Brunson have the talent to expose the Mountaineers’ half-court defense. Villanova wins and continues to look like the big favorites they were supposed to be.

3. Texas Tech over 2. Purdue

Isaac Haas’s elbow injury makes this a completely different game. Texas Tech is the better defensive team and has the best player in this game, Keenan Evans. Purdue is incredible from beyond the arc, and I actually think their shooting will determine the outcome of the game. If Texas Tech can get some key stops, I like their chances to pull out a close one.

Midwest Region

1. Kansas over 5. Clemson

I still don’t think the Jayhawks are legit title contenders-0-but if they win this game, they will be just 3 wins away. The way Clemson has picked up the pieces after losing Donte Grantham has been one of the best stories of the year, but I don’t see a way that their season extends. At this point, with the way their offense has been scoring,  any team that beats Kansas will have to have someone who can score at will. I don’t see this element in Clemson.

2. Duke over 11. Syracuse

Are you tired of hearing about Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense? Well, you won’t have to much longer. Duke also runs a 2-3 zone, and last month proved to be better at it, beating Syracuse 60-44 after suffocating their offense. It’s hard not to see a similar result here. Syracuse will probably turn this into a defensive rock fight, but the problem is that Duke is better playing like that, too. Syracuse may have pulled off two big upsets, but Michigan State has been prone to offensive duds and TCU was never a real threat to make a run. Give me Duke in an easy game.

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