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What to Expect in the Sweet 16

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What to Expect in the Sweet 16

FILE - This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that's perfect through 48 games on the NCAA.com's

FILE - This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that's perfect through 48 games on the NCAA.com's "Bracket Challenge," according to the NCAA. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

AP

FILE - This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that's perfect through 48 games on the NCAA.com's "Bracket Challenge," according to the NCAA. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

AP

AP

FILE - This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that's perfect through 48 games on the NCAA.com's "Bracket Challenge," according to the NCAA. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

Peyton Carley

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March Madness is arguably the most exciting time of year in sports. A 64 team bracket all playing towards one goal, a National Championship. With upsets and underdogs and Cinderella stories, nothing beats the magic of the NCAA tournament. Where it stands, the Sweet 16 is upon us, and the games to be played are as compelling as ever.

 

Duke v.s. Virginia Tech

Prediction: Duke wins 78-73

The Blue Devils came into the tournament as the obvious favorites to win the big dance. I see no change in that coming into this game. Despite Virginia Tech winning their two tournament games thus far fairly easily, those games were against a 12 and 13 seed, neither of them able to compare at all to the power and talent Duke brings to the table. The Blue Devils hold three of the projected top five picks in next years NBA draft but are facing a Virginia Tech team who did beat them earlier this season. But the Hokies took the win while Zion Williamson was out with an injury. But this Duke team with Williamson on the court is a different monster. Despite a likely close game, Duke keeps rolling and advances to the Elite Eight.

 

LSU v.s. Michigan State

Prediction: Michigan State wins 68-65

In my opinion, Michigan State was snubbed out of the one seed this year. After going 3-0 against BIG 10 rival Michigan and winning both their conference tournament and regular season championship, they deserved it. Instead, they got in as the highest ranked two seed with something to prove. After recent years of early exits in the tournament, the Spartans are poised to move on with talent all around the court, led by BIG 10 player of the year Cassius Winston. In their way is the LSU Tigers, the SEC regular season champions. So far in the tournament, LSU has played in two very close games against Yale and Maryland. Throughout the season they kept games close against good teams, but only went 3-2 against ranked teams while only playing against five ranked teams. LSU will keep it close, but Michigan State has something to prove, and they pull out a win, setting up a date with Duke in the Elite Eight.

 

Gonzaga v.s. Florida State

Prediction: Florida State wins 82-80

The way I see it, Gonzaga is the most vulnerable number one seed. They play in a weak conference, who only produced one other tournament in Saint Mary’s, and they ended up losing in the first round. They have only played against three ranked teams and went 1-2 in those games. In every single regular season conference game Gonzaga played in, they beat their opponent by ten or more points. I just think they’re underprepared. Florida State plays in arguably the best basketball conference in the nation, the ACC, Gonzaga won their conference by five whole games, and even lost in their conference tournament championship game. When I see the Bulldogs, I see a low ceiling, and a Sweet 16 upset at the hands of Florida State.

 

Texas Tech v.s. Michigan

Prediction: Texas Tech wins 72-67

Both these teams in this game handled their first two tournament games very easily. But Michigan this season has lost six games. Three came at the hands of Michigan State, but the other three were bad losses at the hands of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn State. Michigan also went 0-3 against their in-state rival and BIG 10 champion in Michigan State. What makes you think if they can’t compete with good teams in the regular season, that they will in the tournament? Texas Tech, on the other hand, has had a very roller-coaster season. They showed flashes of brilliance in games like beating Kansas by 29 points, but have also seen pits of despair such as a three-game losing streak early in conference play. But despite that, the Red Raiders clinched a share of the regular season Big 12 title, even with that conference boasting six tournament births. If Texas Tech can get in the groove against the Wolverines, they take the game in still a close battle.

 

Virginia v.s. Oregon

Prediction: Virginia wins 67-54

The name of the game in the NCAA tournament is upsets, and that’s exactly what Oregon has given us this year. As a 12 seed advancing to the Sweet 16 is impressive. But keep in mind that if they hadn’t won their end of the season conference tournament, they may not have even been in the tournament. They were one of only three Pac-12 teams to make the tournament, and Arizona State even had to have a play-in game to get in. The fact of the matter is that Virginia is just better. The Cavaliers shoot 48% from the field and 40% from behind the arc, which boasts as the second highest percentage in the nation. They have talent at every position and the way I see it, this game will be a run-away win for Virginia.

 

Purdue v.s. Tennessee

Prediction: Tennessee wins 76-71

Tennessee almost gave up a 25-point lead in the second half against Iowa in the 2nd round. Well actually, they did give that lead up and the game actually went to overtime. The outcome of this game will simply be based on what Tennessee team shows up for the game. Will it be the team that lost by 17 to Kentucky earlier this year, or will it be the team that beat that same Kentucky team by 19 in their next meeting. In my opinion, Tennessee just has better players than Purdue. Don’t get me wrong, Purdue is a good team. They even won a share of the Big 10 regular season title with Michigan State. But I just don’t see them stacking up against the great athleticism that Tennessee brings to the table.

 

North Carolina v.s. Auburn

Prediction: North Carolina wins 83-77

Even if Kansas had played a good game against Auburn in the Round of 32 game, (which they didn’t) they still wouldn’t have beat the Tigers. Auburn played a near perfect game. They shot 52% from the field and only had seven turnovers compared to the Jayhawk’s 16. Auburn also shot 13 of 30 from the 3 point line. Kansas just couldn’t keep up. North Carolina in their game handled Washington easily, beating them by 22 points. In this one, it comes down to this. The Tar Heels finished with a better record in a much more difficult conference in my opinion in the ACC. They went 2-1 against Duke and split the regular season title with Virginia. Auburn after having a game like that against Kansas, will take a step back, and have their season ended by the Tar Heels.

 

Houston v.s. Kentucky

Prediction: Kentucky wins 86-71

Houston, in my opinion, is in the same boat as Gonzaga, except they aren’t a top seed. They swept right through their conference this year, which only had three teams make the tournament. They only played against one ranked team this entire season, but to their credit, they beat LSU. Other than that, they don’t play the competition that Kentucky plays against on a weekly basis in the SEC. I’m calling another blowout, with the Wildcats running away with the game.

 

If my predictions pan out, and with how the tournament works I doubt they will, We will see an Elite Eight featuring Duke, Michigan State, Florida State, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas Tech, Virginia, and Tennessee. But even if these picks don’t work out, the championship is completely up for grabs.

 

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