Sports Editor Dustin Brown and Sports Writer Rohtas Wadera preview the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 games even though their brackets were busted already.
Brackets have been busted after a tumultuous first and second round in the NCAA Tournament, but the Sweet 16 is now set and provides several matchups that should provide fans with excellent basketball. No matter what has happened thus far, the Sweet 16 is all that matters now so don’t look back.
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Maryland (South)
DB: Kansas has looked like the best team in the NCAA Tournament and it isn’t surprising that the Jayhawks have accomplished that feat. They now face a Maryland team that many expected to be gone already, but the Terrapins have turned in a great effort to push all negativity aside.
RW: I am a big fan of this Maryland team and they have a TON of talent. Unfortunately, Kansas is too deep and experienced to lose to the Terps. Melo Trimble has to go off for Maryland if they want to win, but I think Kansas shouldn’t have many issues in this one.
DB: A double-digit win by Kansas wouldn’t be surprising and Perry Ellis likely has a big game in this one.
No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 3 Miami (South)
RW: This will be a very close matchup between two teams that haven’t managed to make a deep run in the tournament for some time. They both match up well with each other and Villanova has more depth but I gotta go with Miami.
DB: We can’t discount the fact that Villanova has hit 23 3-pointers in the tournament, but Miami seems to be firing on all cylinders in the past two games. This happens with the Canes, but if they decide that this game is when they hit a cold streak they could be in deep trouble.
RW: Well, the first reason Miami wins is because I have them in my bracket, but they’ve shown that it isn’t a one-man team in Sheldon McClellan. Angel Rodriguez stepped up when he took on Fred Van Vleet, and he should do the same with Ryan Arcidiacono. Devon Reed also made plays on both ends, so I like Miami.
DB: I understand the concept behind picking Miami, but I don’t think the Canes will overcome the consistency of Villanova. The Wildcats are hitting 49 percent from behind the arc and 66 percent from inside of it during the tourney, and those numbers should scare Miami at this point. I’m going Wildcats with my pick, but this contest is likely to be decided by turnovers more than anything.
No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 4 Duke (West)
DB: We picked Oregon to go far and I have them in the Final Four, which wouldn’t be too big of a shock with how they are playing right now. The Ducks’ offense is putting up points and it doesn’t matter if they lack on the defensive end. After all, points are what win games, and you only need more than your opponent. If Duke struggles at all from the outside, they are doomed in this one.
RW: This game should be a shootout since neither team really likes to defend to much. Both teams have been pushed in the early rounds because of their lack of defense. However, this is not a good matchup for Duke. They rely on the three too much and Oregon can score in a variety of ways, Dillon Brooks vs. Grayson Allen will be fun to watch. I’m taking Oregon.
DB: In this game, points will come from everywhere for both teams, and it will probably land somewhere in the 75-plus points range for each team. With that being said, I am looking forward to this one. The question is this: Will Allen be tripping in this one?
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Texas A&M (West)
RW: I have Texas A&M in this one. The Aggies have Davis inside and he should matchup well with Spangler, and the Sooners aren’t deep on the interior as it is. I think Caruso, House and Jones, have a size advantage over Cousins, Woodard and Hield. If they can get Hield out of his rhythm, they’ve got a great chance to advance. Gimme Texas A&M!
DB: No Gig ’em Aggies here, and I’ll explain. A size advantage does go far, but even if they shut down Hield they could lose this game. Hield has had lackluster performances in the first half of games in the tournament but has exploded in the second half of those same games. The Sooners are averaging 83.5 points through two tournament games and Hield is averaging 31.5 in each contest.
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Indiana (East)
DB: North Carolina is another tournament team that has flown out of the gate and obliterated teams in its path. They have dominated teams in the second half and present a few challenges for Indiana. The Hoosiers were able to overcome Kentucky in the second round, but another worthy opponent stands in their path.
RW: Indiana got the better of Kentucky once again, which means they may not play each other anytime soon. The Hoosiers believe they can get to a Final Four but UNC stands in their way. If UNC takes jump shots and misses they will be in trouble. I still think the Tar Heels are too good and they take care of Indiana.
DB: This could be a game that presents equal opportunities for both teams, but along with Carolina making shots, it also comes down to the turnover battle and free throw efficiency. If both swing in the Hoosiers favor, they can pull off the upset, but I think the Roy Williams-led Tar Heels will be advancing to the Elite Eight.
No. 6 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Wisconsin (East)
RW: Both of these teams advanced on buzzer beaters and this is likely to be another close game. Wisconsin proved that they can compete with anyone and they have shot makers. I still think Notre Dame has the better team overall and they should get it done over the Badgers.
DB: This is the second most surprising game in the Sweet 16, but it isn’t March without the madness, right? We love buzzer beaters and we love all the other things that go with this time of year. Wisconsin has used two late second half runs to win both of their first two games and Notre Dame has hit their shots when they needed to. Both of these teams present Midwest basketball at its finest — ugliness and all — and it isn’t too far fetched that another buzzer beater occurs to win this one.
I think that the Fighting Irish do just enough to keep Mike Brey happy and advance to a potential matchup with either North Carolina or Indiana.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Iowa State (Midwest)
DB: Virginia brings the offense and Iowa State can too, but the Cavaliers are an exceptional defensive team. Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill are shredding teams with a scorching 68 percent from the 3-point line (25 of 37) and the Cyclones need to figure out a way to stop them both.
RW: Iowa State has had to deal with a lot of tournament heartbreak over the last couple of years but this could be their time. I think they have multiple bodies to throw at Virginia’s Brogdon. If they shut him down, Virginia doesn’t have much else on offense and the Cyclones can take control and win this game. I’ll take Iowa State.
DB: The problem for Iowa State at times can be turnovers, but not so far in this year’s tournament. If — a big if — they can win the turnover battle, their chances drastically increase to win. I think that Virginia holds on late in a tough game for both teams and wins a close one.
No. 10 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Gonzaga (Midwest)
RW: Michigan State’s loss just opened up the bracket for these two teams for a spot in the Elite Eight. Cuse has so much athleticism and length with their 2-3 zone, they will make it very tough for Gonzaga. I think this could be the year Gonzaga gets to the Final Four though. If Wiltjer, McClellan and Draginis hit their threes and Sabonis stays out of foul trouble, they can win this game. Give me the Zags.
DB: After watching both teams play at the end of the regular season, there is no way that I thought this game would ever happen in the Sweet 16. Gonzaga always shows up in the tournament and this year has been no different for them. Syracuse seems to be confusing teams with their zone and Jim Boeheim is working his March game plan to perfection. With so much at stake for these teams, Syracuse will overcome Mark Few and the Zags, and likely use a late run to put this one away.