March Madness Sweet Sixteen Update
The first weekend has wrapped up and the round of sixteen is set. As with any March Madness, there has been a fair share of upsets, most notably Duke, and a number of close games with questionable calls (looking at you, Arkansas and Seton Hall).
What is in store this upcoming weekend? Who will advance to the Elite Eight and, ultimately, the Final Four next weekend? We’ll recap the past weekend by region and look to what to watch for as the Sweet Sixteen gets under way.
The West, for the most part, did not have any notable upsets or questionable games. The biggest bonehead play of the opening weekend came in the first round game between Vanderbilt and Northwestern. Down one, Northwestern needed to go down and score with only 17 seconds left after Vanderbilt had just taken the lead. Inexplicably, Matthew Fisher-Davis of Vanderbilt intentionally fouled Bryant McIntosh which sent him to the free throw line.
McIntosh made him pay. Northwestern advanced with their first ever NCAA tournament win thanks to the gaffe. The other team of note was Xavier. The Musketeers absolutely STEAMROLLED Florida State by a score of 91 to 66. 11th seed Xavier has a tough matchup upcoming against Arizona for a chance to advance to the Elite Eight.
My pick to make it to the Final Four? Arizona. The Bearcats are too fast and too deep to be threatened by any team remaining in their region.
If the East destroyed your bracket picks, I can most definitely relate. Under-seeded Wisconsin proved to be too much to handle for top seed Villanova and it resulted in a Bobcats upset. Now Wisconsin must deal with Florida to have a chance to play the winner of South Carolina and Baylor.
Speaking of South Carolina, just, wow. I know many college basketball fans are not fond of Duke and were very happy to see the Blue Devils lose. However, it ruined many a bracket in the process. Can the Gamecocks continue their stretch of upsets until next weekend? Unfortunately, I do not think they can. Wisconsin is my pick to come out of the East and represent the Big Ten in the Final Four.
The Midwest region also saw a #2 seed fall in Louisville. Kudos to Michigan for getting past a strong Oklahoma State team and then having a resilient showing against Louisville to come back and complete the upset. Speaking of upsets, Rhode Island managed to knock out Creighton in the first round and came ever so close to beating Oregon. With 40 seconds to go, Tyler Dorsey of the Ducks managed to hit the go-ahead three-point bucket to put down the Rams’ Cinderella hopes.
The other part of the bracket has stayed relatively quiet other than a great second-round game between Iowa State and Purdue. The Boilermakers managed to stave off the Cyclones and must now deal with the ever dangerous Kansas Jayhawks. My pick to advance from the Midwest? I think Frank Mason III and the Jayhawks will be too much to handle for both Purdue and whomever they face between Oregon and Michigan. Rock Chalk.
For being touted as the “toughest” bracket by many experts, the top four seeds in North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, and Butler still came out of the first weekend. My upset pick of Wichita State over Kentucky was ever so close to coming true, but the Kentucky defense proved to be too formidable and got two crucial stops when they needed them.
The other notable first round game that proved to be quite entertaining was between Wichita State and Dayton. After a back and forth battle throughout, the Shockers strengthened their defense and proved to be too much for the Flyers to handle. Who will come out of this region and represent the South in the Final Four? Let’s first take a look at Kentucky vs. UCLA. In my opinion, this is the best Sweet Sixteen game on the slate this weekend. Dynamic offense vs. dynamic offense. Lonzo Ball vs. Malik Monk. Two storied programs with superstars on their rosters looking to build up their programs’ storied histories. This will be a fun one.
However, I think Kentucky will prove too much for UCLA to handle as the game goes on. Next, we have North Carolina against Butler. If you have been following college basketball at all the past couple years, you probably know to not count Butler out in March by now. Will they give the Tar Heels a game? I think that is without question. In the end, I think their team overall boasts too much depth to be counted out.
So, my hypothetical Final Four is set. Who do you think will advance this weekend and eventually battle for the National Title? Feel free to discuss!
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