The 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been filled with surprises during its opening weekend.
- For the first time in the history of March Madness a #16 seed, MD-Baltimore, defeated a #1 seed, Virginia 74-54.
- #7 Nevada came from 22 points down to defeat #2 Cincinnati 75-73. It was the greatest comeback in the NCAA Tournament.
- For only the 4th time, two #1 seeds have not made it to the Sweet 16.
- The ACC has four times in the Sweet 16. #2 Duke, #11 Syracuse, #5 Clemson and #9 Florida State.
Sweet 16 Preview and Prediction:
#9 Kansas State Vs. #5 Kentucky:
Before #1 Virginia lost, I predicted this would be the weakest bracket. I can’t see any scenario where Kentucky doesn’t advance to the Final Four. KState may be the best team Kentucky will have to face and they are #9 Seed in their bracket. KY is 9-0 all -time against KState in the NCAA Tournament… They make it 10-0. Kentucky Wins 73-57.
#11 Loyola (IL) Vs. #7 Nevada:
The breakdown here is can Loyola’s defense matchup and shut down Nevada’s offense. Nevada’s team does a tremendous job of sharing the ball and have constant motion of offense. I don’t see Loyola matching up on the boards. Nevada wins 71-65.
#9 Florida State Vs. #4 Gonzaga:
Gonzaga is one of the best coached team in the country. They rarely beat themselves. They do a tremendous job in running their plays and rebounding the basketball. Florida State is just happy to be in the Sweet 16 while the Zags have Final Four aspirations. Gonzaga wins 83-76.
#3 Michigan Vs. #7 Texas A&M:
In my bracket, I have Michigan going to the Final Four. But, to quote, Lee Corso from College Football Gameday… “Not so fast, my friend.” The Aggies thoroughly dominated last year’s national champion, North Carolina. They out-rebounded UNC 50-36 and went to the free throw line 21 times to Carolina’s 7. This was a total beat down from start to finish. Texas A&M was a top 7 team in the early part of the season, and they are playing like it. A&M wins in an upset 76-71.
#1 Villanova Vs. #5 West Virginia:
It has been an incredible run over the past few seasons for Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats. Wright’s team could be the best in the country. They went 32-4 during the regular season and appear to be getting stronger. Thinking outside the box I picked West Virginia to get to the Final Four. It is a long shot, but, I will stay with that pick. West Virginia wins 77-74.
#3 Texas Tech Vs. #2 Purdue:
Purdue’s big man Isaac Haas has a fractured elbow. He is scheduled to practice with the team but hasn’t been cleared to play. Other players stepped up and four Boilermakers scored in double figures. Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith combining for 40 of the 69 points to help them defeat Florida 69-66. Despite Haas being questionable to play, I still like Purdue winning 67-63.
#1 Kansas Vs. #5 Clemson:
It doesn’t matter whose name is on the back of the Jayhawks Jersey its about the name on the front.
In 15 years as the Kansas Head Coach, Bill Self worst record, was his first season on the sidelines when he went 24-9 and has a conference record of 208-47. Kansas has Final Four dreams while Clemson is happy to get to the Sweet 16. I like Kansas 81-67.
# 2 Duke Vs. #11 Syracuse:
The Blue Devils destroyed Rhode Island 87-62, with Marvin Bagley III scoring 22 points, hitting 8-of-10 from the field. Five Duke players hit the double-digit scoring. In the History of the NCAA only two true freshmen averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Kevin Durant at Texas averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds. Michael Beasley at Kansas State averaged 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds. Duke’s Bagley is averaging 21.2 and 11.3 rebounds. Grayson Allen has been stuffing the stat sheet with points, rebounds and assists and I expect him to elevate his game even more. Duke wants to get up and play a high paced style, Syracuse wants to slow it down, so they can set up their match up zone. The Blue Devils defeated the Orangemen 60-44 on February 24th and I expect them to win again. Take Duke 68-56.
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