The first three rounds of this year’s NCAA Tournament have been nothing short of spectacular. We’ve seen more than a fair share of nail biters, buzzer beaters, and most importantly, major upsets. After all the smoke cleared from what was a chaotic first weekend, we are left with sixteen teams standing. Later tonight, the East and West Region’s Sweet Sixteen matchups will take place. Here’s how I see each game playing out.
#3 Marquette vs. #2 Miami
At first glance, Miami appears to have the clear advantage in this game. Marquette’s guards have been suspect all season long, and Miami’s Larkin/Scott backcourt duo is one of the best college basketball has to offer. Marquette plays mostly through their bigs, but Miami has the horses to match the Golden Eagles front line. However, Miami will be without their Warren Sapp sized starting center Reggie Johnson (6’10” 295 lbs) , who is getting surgery on his right knee. This bodes well for Marquette, who will look to pound the ball in the paint all night long. But in the end, Miami has too much firepower on offense for Marquette to keep up with. Marquette barely squeaked by Davidson and Butler, and those two teams combined don’t have as many offensive weapons as Miami.
Prediction: Miami 75 Marquette 62
#6 Arizona vs. #2 Ohio State
After taking care of Belmont in the second round, Arizona squashed any hopes of a nerd rebellion in their trashing of Harvard. Ohio State on the other hand, needed everything including the kitchen sink and help from a bad charge call to hold off Iowa State in the second round. However, Arizona hasn’t played against a defensive minded team like Ohio State yet, or all season for that matter, and Aaron Craft should wreak havoc in the Wildcats backcourt. Arizona has the size advantage over the Buckeyes, but that means that their bigs will have to guard Ohio State’s more perimeter oriented bigs on the three-point line. Advantage Ohio State. This game really comes down to Ohio State’s role players. If they hit shots, the Buckeyes will advance. Arizona gave up six three pointers per game, ranking 113th in the country.
Prediction: Ohio State 66 Arizona 59
#4 Syracuse vs. #1 Indiana
This game and Kansas/Michigan are the two best Sweet Sixteen matchups we have. Syracuse has everything that gives Indiana fits. The Orangemen have physical bigs to bang down low with Zeller, physical guards to bully Indiana’s little guard duo of Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferell, and a defense that will force Indiana into a lot of threes. Indiana is at its best when Oladipo can attack the rim and Zeller gets the ball down low, and Syracuse’s zone is built to cut off those paint touches. If Indiana guards Michael Carter-Williams with a smaller guard, MCW will go right to the post and score at will. Indiana has more talent across the board than Syracuse, but the matchups all favor the team from upstate New York.
Prediction: Syracuse 71 Indiana 68
#13 La Salle vs. #9 Wichita State
If anybody had these two teams playing in the Sweet Sixteen, let me just say God bless you, you are a physic. Use your powers for the good guys, not the bad guys. This game will come down one thing: the three ball. Both teams rely heavily on the trey, just look at their third round matchup stats. Wichita State: 14-28 from deep and six players made at least one three. La Salle: 9-23 from deep and the starters combined for nine. La Salle’s Raman Galloway went 6-10 from three-point land on his way to a 24 point performance. He out “Marshall Hendersoned” Marshall Henderson in that game, and that’s not easy to do.
Prediction: Wichita State 68 La Salle 60
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