Sweet 16 and Elite 8 Predictions

Regional Semi-Finals Picks

 

What an outstanding first weekend of the NCAA tournament highlighted by a #16 seed destroying #1 overall seed Virginia. It happened after 135 tries University of Maryland-Baltimore County finally broke through as a 16th seed. Highly-touted Arizona fell by the waste side as well, along with a variety of upsets and very tight games. I can’t wait to see what the Sweet 16 and the rest of the tourney produces.

Midwest Region

#1 Kansas vs. #5 Clemson: This current Kansas Jayhawks roster is nowhere near the most talented team in school history. However, it does have a mix of experience, guards, & big men, all the ingredients to take home the chip. Nice story by Clemson, an elite football program made strides in the basketball department this year.

The Pick: Kansas

#2 Duke vs. #11 Syracuse: If you take away the lopsided seeds, most year’s this would be seen as a marquee matchup. Once again the play-in, 11th seed advances deep into the tourney, when most experts didn’t think this Syracuse team belonged in the field of 68. After struggling with man-to-man defense for most of the year, Duke installed the 2-3 zone which is obviously ironic considering the Orangemen recruit based off the same zone coverage. The top-tier talent on Duke has finally jelled and will overpower the Cuse.

The Pick: Duke

The Midwest Final Four Representative will be Duke.

 

South Region

#5 Kentucky vs. #9 Kansas State: Not much to see here as far as upset. Coach John Calipari has steered his 5th seeded Wildcats to the Sweet 16 7 times in his 9 years at Kentucky. The young Cats are clicking at the right time. Kansas State will have to play over their head in order to keep it close.

The Pick: Kentucky

#7 Nevada vs. #11 Loyola-Chicago: You have to love seeing these two high-seeded teams getting a shot at the elite 8. In what looks to be a flip of the coin type outcome, this blogger will side with Loyola-Chicago to make a certain 98-year old nun (along with the rest of the fanbase) proud by advancing. On paper, I favor the all-purpose offensive threat of Nevada but that’s why they play the games.

The Pick: Loyola-Chicago

The South Region Final Four Representative will be the Kentucky Wildcats halting an inspiring run by Loyola-Chicago.

 

East Region

#1 Villanova vs. #5 West Virginia: The Mountaineers are one of the most intense defensive units left in the tournament. Villanova is probably the best all-around team in the Sweet 16. West Virginia has to hit some outside shots early in the second half to keep pace. Nova finds a way to close this game out in the last two minutes.

The Pick: Villanova

#2 Purdue vs. #3 Texas Tech: Really stuck on this side of the braket especially this individual tilt. Both teams get after it defensively and are capable of knocking down 3’s. The Boilermakers have enough battle-tested veterans but may be without their center Isaac Hass. That alone is good enough reason to lean towards the Red Raiders.

The Pick: Texas Tech

The East Region Final Four Representative will be Villanova squeaking by Texas Tech.

 

West Region

#3 Michigan vs. #7 Texas A&M: The Aggies have found their November/December swag and with most of their adversity in the rear view the skies is the limit. The frontline for Texas A&M is nothing to play with making them a difficult out for anyone. That said the Wolverines fared well recently against the big-man of Michigan State and Purdue, giving this hack of ascribe a boost of confidence. It won’t be easy but Michigan will advance to the Elite 8.

The Pick: Michigan

#4 Gonzaga vs. #9 Florida State: The Zags looked mediocre early to mid-season, but closed extremely strong heading into this surprise pairing with FSU. Florida State’s coaching and the forward/center position will be a handful to say the least. The Seminoles will fight tooth and nail but come up short to Gonzaga.

The Pick: Gonzaga

The West Region Final Four Representative will be Michigan, making it 13 victories in a row.

 

Quick Hits & Sweet 16 

-FSU beat #1, Xavier, using an 18-4 run to close the game after being down by 12 points with 10 minutes remaining.

-Nevada’s 22 point miracle rally with 11:43 remained in the game was the 2nd biggest comeback in NCAA tourney history.

-2nd seeded Duke advances to the Sweet 16 giving  head coach Mike Krzyzewski the most Division I basketball wins (1,099) in history

-No wins for the PAC-12, marking the 1st time in history a Power-5 conference didn’t win a game in NCAA tournament.

-Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, only one other underdog as large as Buffalo (+9.5) won by at least 20 points. Prior to this major upset over Arizona, Buffalo had never won a tournament game. That stat held for less than 24 hours, when UMBC shocked #1 Virginia.

Written by Chris Carlson Host of the College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Net. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

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