Sweet Sixteen Predictions

Sweet Sixteen Predictions

Nate LeRoy and Jack Niesse

East Region

Wisconsin vs Florida

The 8th seed Wisconsin badgers shocked the nation by beating the number one seed, Villanova Wildcats. The Senior, Nigel Hayes, is leading the badgers averaging 18 points and 9 boards in the tournament. The Gators will have their handfuls trying to contain him. Florida was hot against UVA and East Tennessee, but will need to stay hot against one of the stingiest defenses in the country. Prediction; 65-62 Florida

Baylor vs South Carolina  

South Carolina behind, Sindarius Thornwell, bested Marquette by 20 and came back against Duke after a lackluster shooting performance in the first half with a win by 7. Thornwell is going to be a tough matchup against anyone, averaging 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Jonathan Motley for the Baylor Bears will have to play his game in order to beat the hot Gamecocks in Madison Square Garden. Prediction; 78-70 Baylor

West Region

Gonzaga vs West Virginia

With Gonzaga’s pure height, they are a matchup nightmare. However, West Virginia’s stingy defense and half court press will trouble the Bulldogs. Gonzaga plays incredible half court offense, with 4+ players over 6’10”. If the Bulldogs are able to get the ball past midcourt and play their game they will win. If West Virginia plays typical Bob Huggins stingy defense they’ll be able to find victory. Prediction; 76-70 Gonzaga

Arizona vs Xavier

Big man, Lauri Markkanen from Finland, and shooting guard, Allonzo Trier are averaging 35 points between the two. The Arizona Wildcats will be a tough contest for the smaller Xavier team, the only double digit seed in the Sweet Sixteen. Xavier has been lead by Trevon Bluiett in their tournament run although to many, it isn’t a true traditional Cinderella team. Xavier started 11-2 before sliding all the way to their 11 seed in the tournament, where they have appeared to find their identity once more. Arizona will simply prove to be too much, as they roll over the Musketeers. Prediction: Arizona, 78-69

Midwest Region

Kansas vs Purdue

The top seeded Jayhawks defeated UC Davis and Michigan State by significant margins each, winning by 38 and 20 respectively. The Jayhawks have looked like the one of the hottest teams in the tournament, creating highlight after highlight en route to their victories. Purdue won two tough games against Vermont and Iowa State to reach the Sweet Sixteen, mostly behind the play of Naismith Finalist Caleb “Biggie’ Swanigan. Frank Mason and entourage will prove too much for Purdue, as they move on into the Elite Eight. Prediction: Kansas; 86-80

Oregon vs Michigan

Oregon reached the Sweet Sixteen by defeating Iona and popular upset pick Rhode Island, despite losing starting forward Chris Boucher to an ACL injury. Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey lead them to their victory, behind their combined 46 points. Michigan is a bit of a surprise performer, continuing their streaky Big Ten tournament run into March Madness. The Wolverines are currently undefeated in 2017 Tournament play, and will add another win to that tally on Thursday night. Prediction: Michigan; 79-74

South Region

UNC vs Butler

The Tar Heels got one easy win in Greenville, pounding 16-seed Texas Southern 103-64 in the opening round. The Tar Heels kept a slim lead on Arkansas in the second round up until the final few minutes, giving up the lead before closing the game on a 12-0 run to win 72-65. Butler opened against Winthrop, throttling the SOCON champs as they cruised to victory, controlling the game from start to finish. They beat Middle Tennessee State in the Round of 32, moving into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2011. UNC will get back to their normal style of play in this game, rotating their four big men in to pound the offensive and defensive glass while Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson lead the team from deep. Prediction: UNC; 78-66

UCLA vs Kentucky

This game is undoubtedly one of the most historic matchups in NCAA tournament history, with the two teams combining for 19 National Championships and 34 FInal Fours over their time. With the history aside, this remains the premier matchup of the weekend. The two teams have  some of the best offenses in college basketball, along with the potential future of the NBA, as three probably lottery picks in the 2017 NBA Draft taking the court at once. De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are the newest members of Coach Cal’s Legion of Lottery Picks, while freshman sensation Lonzo Ball faces off against them for the Bruins. UCLA’s deeper roster and more versatile scoring abilities and options will see them through in this game, regardless of their lackluster defense. Prediction: UCLA, 92-87