Well, if you have a bracket that’s not busted by now, you might be a genius. This has been the craziest NCAA tournament ever in my opinion. A 16 seed finally did the impossible and beat a one seed (handily I might add). Only two of four #2 seeds remain after Nevada rallied from a huge deficit to knock out Cincinnati, and Texas A&M absolutely destroyed the defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels. Third seeded Michigan State was knocked out by eleventh seeded Syracuse in a massive upset that shook up the Midwest Region. Ninth seeded Florida State rallied to knock off top seeded Xavier, 75-70. West Virginia avoided an upset and did the job against Marshall. Even without their star big man, Purdue narrowly survived and defeated Butler 76-73 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Fifth seeded Clemson demolished fourth seeded Auburn, 84-53, to advance to the second weekend.
On Saturday, top seeded Villanova asserted its dominance with a blowout victory over ninth seeded Alabama. Tournament favorite Duke did the same against seventh seeded Rhode Island. Fifth seeded Kentucky avoided any upset complications and ran away with a 95-75 victory over Buffalo. Loyola-Chicago continued its magical cinderella run with another game-winning shot in the waning moments to push them past third seeded Tennessee, 63-62. Angel Delgado did all he could for Seton Hall but the Pirates ultimately fell short to top seeded Kansas, 83-79. Gonzaga used a hot start and late splurge to get past Ohio State, 90-84. Third seeded Texas Tech stormed back in the second half to avoid an upset against sixth seeded Florida in a 69-66 win. The shot of the night cane when Michigan’s Jordan Poole hit a deep off-balance game-winning three pointer over a Houston defender as time expired in Michigan’s narrow 64-63 win.
There were so many great moments from the first weekend of the tournament. It’s already the greatest tournament ever in my opinion and we are only through the first and second rounds. Basketball fans, get ready, because we will probably be in for even more March greatness. So there’s the quick rundown of all the games from the second round. We’ve got much more basketball to come later this week and I’m here to give full previews and predictions for each Sweet Sixteen game on Thursday and Friday. Let’s get this thing started! Oh yeah, and before I forget, be sure to check out my Scouting Reports for Each Sweet 16 Team article, I’ll leave the link to that below!
(Thursday, March 22nd)
#5 Kentucky vs. #9 Kansas State
(9:37 p.m. EST, CBS; Atlanta, GA)
Preview: The South Region has completely collapsed. Kansas State was a team that not many people even picked to win their first round game, but here they are. A matchup of Wildcats will be a very boring one in my opinion. Kansas State is one of the most lackluster offenses I’ve seen in a while and their star, Dean Wade, is still dealing with an unknown when it comes to his health. Kentucky has NBA level talent and Bruce Weber’s team will not be able to match that. Kentucky. SHARPIE.
Pick: #5 Kentucky 89, #9 Kansas State 62.
#7 Nevada vs. #11 Loyola-Chicago
(7:07 p.m. EST, CBS; Atlanta, GA)
Preview: Two cinderella stories will collide on Thursday night when the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers go face to face with the Nevada Wolfpack. This game should be a battle of two extremely efficient offenses and quite frankly I think Loyola-Chicago has an advantage with its defense compared to that of Nevada’s. It will come down to which team can force more turnovers and I see that team being the Ramblers. SISTER JEAN! LOYOLA-CHICAGO BABY!
Pick: #11 Loyola-Chicago 79, #7 Nevada 74.
(Thursday, March 22nd)
#4 Gonzaga vs. #9 Florida State
(9:59 p.m. EST, TBS; Los Angeles, CA)
Preview: Gonzaga and Florida State will combat in the Sweet 16, which is a surprising matchup. But there have been so many crazy upsets and the Seminoles rallied to knock off number one seeded Xavier last night. Gonzaga is much more talented and experienced and I don’t believe Florida State will have the defense and shot making ability to keep up with Gonzaga in a fast-paced basketball game. Zach Norvell Jr. will expose the Seminole guards. Give me the Zags!
Pick: #4 Gonzaga 78, #9 Florida State 69.
#3 Michigan vs. #7 Texas A&M
(7:37 p.m. EST, TBS; Los Angeles, CA)
Preview: Texas A&M shocked the world yesterday when they demolished North Carolina in the Round of 32. Now they’re set to face a Michigan team that squeaked past Houston due to a buzzer beating three pointer. Texas A&M has two extremely dominant bigs in Robert Williams and Tyler Davis. But Michigan is a team that has a rare key to stopping the Aggies loaded frontcourt. Moritz Wagner is another tremendous big man and I believe he will be one of the first to put pressure on Davis and Williams all tournament. Michigan is experienced and John Beilein is hungry for a championship.
Pick: #3 Michigan 66, #7 Texas A&M 59.
(Friday, March 23rd)
#1 Villanova vs. #5 West Virginia
(7:27 p.m. EST, TBS; Boston, MA)
Preview: This will be the best game of the entire Sweet Sixteen. You’ve got Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats who I believe are the best team in the country. They are going up against Bob Huggin’s West Virginia Mountaineers who play as hard nosed of a defensive style as they come. I believe the game will be slow-paced just like West Virginia wants it to be. But in the end, Villanova has too much starpower and will be able to make clutch shots down the stretch. Give me NOVA!
Pick: #1 Villanova 65, #5 West Virginia 60.
#2 Purdue vs. #3 Texas Tech
(9:57 p.m. EST, TBS; Boston, MA)
Preview: Purdue will possibly be without star center Isaac Haas in this game. We won’t know about his status until later on in the week. But honestly I don’t think Haas’s potential absence will affect the Boilermakers too much. They can outduel Texas Tech offensively and I truly believe Carsen Edwards and Vince Edwards will be able to easily score against Chris Beard’s top notch Red Raiders defense. Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith will compete but Purdue’s depth and experience will prove too much for Texas Tech in the end.
Pick: #2 Purdue 77, #3 Texas Tech 74.
(Friday, March 23rd)
#1 Kansas vs. #5 Clemson
(7:07 p.m. EST, CBS; Omaha, NE)
Preview: Kansas is the top seed in the Midwest and they’ve looked capable of making that Final Four run most of the season. Clemson was a solid ACC team this season and looks to be this year’s Jayhawks destructor. I think Bill Self’s coaching experience will be the pivotal factor in this game. Devonte’ Graham will be too much for Clemson to handle and Udoka Azubuike figures to be pretty healthy come game time next week. Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell will keep it close for Clemson early, but Kansas will break it open down the stretch.
Pick: #1 Kansas 78, #5 Clemson 66.
#2 Duke vs. #11 Syracuse
(9:37 p.m. EST, CBS; Omaha, NE)
Preview: Duke bested Syracuse 60-44 in Durham in February. I believe it will be much closer this time around. Coach K’s high powered Blue Devils Offense will go up against Jim Boeheim’s dreaded Syracuse zone defense. Both teams are in full form right now and are hitting their strides at the perfect time. In the end, I believe that Syracuse has not one player capable of guarding Marvin Bagley III, and his low post play will be the difference-maker in an extremely close ACC matchup.
Pick: #2 Duke 74, #11 Syracuse 69.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed! Peace!