Ok, so at this point your bracket is probably busted. Nobody, not even the most die-hard Florida Gulf Coast fan saw the Eagles playing past the first weekend of the tournament and it’s unlikely that many predicted the La Salle vs. Wichita State matchup out in the West region. Oh well. The Sweet 16 features a number of must-see games, which should help you get over picking Georgetown to make it to the Final Four.
But who will win these games? Can’t stand the wait any longer? We’ve got you covered.
(1) Louisville vs. (12) Oregon
Analysis: Oregon’s No.12 seed is definitely a misnomer. The Ducks came into the NCAA tournament fresh off a Pac-12 title run and promptly proceeded to knock off No. 5 seed Oklahoma State and many people’s dark-horse pick St. Louis. Freshman Damyean Dotson has been lighting up the tournament so far, averaging 20 points per game, which is 8.7 points above his regular season average.
Meanwhile, Louisville has yet to be challenged so far in this tournament, cruising past both North Carolina A&T and Colorado State. The Cardinals haven’t lost a game since Feb. 9th and have one of the best players in the tournament in Peyton Siva.
The Cardinals haven’t really played in a close game since a 5 point win over Syracuse on March 2nd and it will be interesting to see how they react when someone challenges them. The Ducks will keep this game close and their overall balance will lead them to an upset over the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament.
The Pick: Oregon 72 — Louisville 69
(2) Duke vs. (3) Michigan State
Analysis: Perhaps out of all the Sweet 16 games, this one feels like the biggest toss up. With Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly spacing the floor and Mason Plumlee working the inside, Duke has one of the most devastating offenses in the entire country. However, Kelly has gotten off to a slow start in the tournament, only scoring 9 total points combined in the games vs. Albany and Creighton. He will have to pick up his game if they hope to get by Michigan State.
If there is a key to beating Duke it’s defending their stars physically and exploiting their weak perimeter defense. Unfortunately for Duke, this is exactly what Michigan State does. The Spartans have answers for Duke’s stars everywhere on the court as Branden Dawson can cover Seth Curry and Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne match up well with Duke’s bigs.
This doesn’t look good for Duke.
The Pick: Michigan State 70 — Duke 64
(2) Ohio State vs. (6) Arizona
Analysis: The Buckeyes narrowly escaped the Third Round after a controversial charge call drawn by Aaron Craft against Iowa State. Still, Ohio State is an experienced group that won the most grueling conference in college basketball.
Arizona has been led so far in the tournament by senior guard Mark Lyons. Over his first two games, Lyons is averaging 25 points, a 10 point jump from his regular season average. If Arizona is to have a chance in this game, they need to ride Lyons’ hot hand.
In the end, though, this game is more about Ohio State than Arizona. If the Ohio State team from the Big Ten tournament shows up, Arizona doesn’t have much of a chance.
The Pick: Ohio State 77 — Arizona 70
(9) Wichita State vs. (13) La Salle
Analysis: Ok, I can’t even pretend like I know much about these teams. I didn’t expect either to make it to this point in the tournament, but Cinderella runs like the ones these two teams are on are what make the tournament unlike anything else in the American sports landscape.
So, which team will prevail? The Shockers have used a physical style of play to bully their way this far into the tournament while the Explorers have been led by the play of senior guard Ramon Galloway.
I expect this game to be close and in close games the team that can get stops usually prevails. Let the shocker puns continue.
The Pick: Wichita State 68 — La Salle 65
Check back tomorrow when I’ll be picking the East and South Regions.
Previously from Charlie Crespo:
♦ Food Faux Pas in South Korea: Part 1
♦ The Magic of Monet
♦ Excelling in Obscurity: Kyrie Irving
♦ The Mysterious Case of Alex Ovechkin
♦ Is Football’s Future in Jeopardy?