When I think of the Sweet 16… the Movie the Matrix comes to mind. There is a scene where Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, doesn’t run away from Agent Smith. Instead, he stands and fights. His love interest Trinity say: “What is he doing?”
Morpheus responds by saying, “He’s beginning to believe!” All the teams entering this weekend are filled with confidence or… They are beginning to believe!
Thursday, March 23 (Sweet 16):
No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan:
If you like shooters this is the game for you. Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey shot 9-of-10 from the floor and had 27 points. Dillon Brooks added 19 points in a tough victory over Danny Hurley’s Rhode Island Rams, 75-72. On a side note, I am glad Oregon won for 2 reasons.
- I have the Ducks getting to the Final Four
- I was tired of CBS announcer Len Elmore calling Danny Hurley, Bobby Hurley.
What was so impressive about Michigan upsetting #2 Louisville was the fact that they beat Rick Pitino at his own game. Michigan caused more turnovers and held the Cardinals to 5-20 shooting from behind the arc. Take the Ducks in this one. Their guard play will lead them to the victory 78-75.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 West Virginia:
This is the most intriguing matchup of the Sweet 16. Gonzaga struggles to score at times and West Virginia loves to lock teams down defensively. If you watched the Duke Blue Devils lose to South Carolina, you could see that when Duke missed shot it affected their defense and confidence. WV is the exact opposite, they gain confidence by turning the ball over and stopping teams defensively. I wrote in my NCAA preview article that for years I have been waiting for Bobby Huggins team to make a run in the tournament. This is the year, West Virginia upsets #1 Gonzaga…The Mountaineers upset Gonzaga 61-57.
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Purdue:
Purdue is a lot better than I originally thought but Kansas is just too much here. I love the way the Jayhawks are playing and they can beat you in a lot of different ways. The Boilermakers must play a perfect game in this one and I don’t see that happening. Take Kansas 78-66.
No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 11 Xavier:
The Pac-12 is the most underrated conference in the country. They are subject of the east coast biased because no one really watches games late at night on the east coast. But Arizona is one of my favorites to win it all. As I wrote in my preview article, only three teams ranked 10 or higher have made it to the final four. They were all seeded #11. LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011. None of those teams made it to the National Championship Game. Take Arizona 84-69.
Friday, March 24 (Sweet 16):
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Butler:
Normally I would never consider any team that doesn’t shoot the three-point shot well to make it to the final four. But, the Tar Heels proved last year they could do it. If they want to beat Butler, they must shoot better. Against Arkansas, they shot 29% from behind the arc. The Bulldogs are very well coached and have some shooters and playmakers. This game will be closer than most people think. My heart tells me Butler my head tells me, North Carolina. Take the Tar Heels 74-70 but I would not be shocked if Butler pulls the upset.
No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 7 South Carolina:
Duke has 5 or 6 players who will play overseas or in the NBA and they lost to the Gamecocks 88-81 and it wasn’t that close. SC controlled the game the entire second half. It’s been a good run for them but Baylor is just too strong. Take the Bears 77-68.
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 UCLA:
UCLA and Kentucky are two historic programs. Both teams are extremely talented. UCLA is the best scoring team in the nation and Kentucky can beat you high scoring or a defensive battle. UCLA’s Lonzo Ball may be the best underclassman in the nation. He had 18 points in the win over Cincinnati and Bryce Alford, when hot, can carry a team with his three-point shooting. It would be a great story if coach Steve Alford who won a national championship in 1987 with Indiana, can get his team and his son to the Final Four. Take UCLA 84-81.
No. 4 Florida vs. No. 8 Wisconsin:
Wisconsin is one of the few college programs in the country where players play for the name on the front of their jerseys not the name on the back. Wisconsin players aren’t concerned about getting drafted, they are concerned about their school’s success. The Gators are impossible to game plan for because they are a lot like Wisconsin in that every team member contributes and can lead the team in scoring. The manhandled a tough Virginia team 65-39. Take Florida in this won 66-59.
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