We are blessed with extremely interesting matchups in the Sweet 16 between teams we didn’t see coming. This scenario is the exact reason I love this tournament. I love chaos, and regardless of how my bracket currently looks, there is no better feeling than seeing a sweet 16 with a team like Oral Roberts in it……unless you’re a Illinois fan like myself, then there is a small amount of pain involved also….. yes, I’m still not over that…. probably won’t be for awhile so shut up.
Once again I’m going to change up how I do this. With there only being 8 games in the Sweet 16, I’m going to write a quick preview of what I expect, and what I predict. After the previews I’ll then be stating my bets. I’m trying to find a format that I think is best, so stick with me as I bounce around different ways of doing this…..If you have any negative comments remember I’m an Illini fan, and that I’ve already been through enough. Thanks.
#1 Gonzaga vs #5 Creighton
Creighton is like a drug to me. I just can’t quit them. I love the offensive potential they have. Along with their defensive flexibility. They have one of the most underrated back courts in basketball in my opinion, and have the ability to both exploit driving lanes and finish at the rim, along with the ability to knock down perimeter shots. The issues they have faced this year is inconsistent offense at times, defending the rim, and rebounding against bigger teams. For Creighton to have a chance here they must keep the pressure on Gonzaga offensively along with having a great post presence defensively
Gonzaga is….well…..really really really good….at everything. Everytime I watch this Gonzaga team I’m blown away from watching how well rounded this team is. The ability for them to completely change up their pace of play seamlessly regardless of their lineup is something that is rare in college basketball. They have the ability to play a perimeter centric game and go scorched earth from three, along with being able to play through the post knowing it’s just as deadly. The absolute most nit picking thing I can find about them is that they can get caught over helping and give up threes to their opponent.
I don’t see this game being close at all. I could see Creighton finding a way to stay relatively close for a bit, but once the Gonzaga offense gets settled in, this game is going to be over. Gonzaga in a rout.
#6 USC vs #7 Oregon
This is one of the most up in the air Sweet 16 games. Oregon is coming off a game in which they shot the leather off the ball and ran away from Iowa, and USC just put such a beat down on Kansas that there needs to be assault charges files against them. So the question is, what teams will we be getting? USC has the best player on the court in the future phenom Mobley, but I give the overall team advantage to Oregon. As simple as it sounds I think this game comes down to the perimeter play of Oregon. If Oregon can have a good day from their guards they should be able to hold off USC.
From a length and athleticism point of view USC has a clear advantage. If USC can find a way to run the Oregon shooters off the 3 point line, and use their length to challenge shots then they can contain this Oregon offense. Offensively USC has the horses to run, and also play inside out during sets. If USC can control turnovers, and control the defensive glass, they can win this game.
Give me USC in this matchup. I believe in their athleticism, and ability to score in a multitude of ways. I also believe in their ability to give the Oregon offense a ton of trouble. This game probably won’t be a blow out either way, but I’ll take USC.
#1 Baylor vs #5 Villanova
I’m not even going to dignify this matchup with a lengthy summary. Villanova has looked better than I expected being without their point guard, but this Baylor perimeter defense is just too much for them. The Baylor team didn’t impress me for a lot of the game against Wisconsin, and still handled the veteran team relatively easily. Baylor is going to shut down the Villanova offense, while also dismantling their defense. I know a lot of people are thinking this game is going to be close, BPI gives Baylor only a 66% chance to win but I think that is dead wrong, I’ll take Baylor by double digits.
#3 Arkansas vs #15 Oral Roberts
For this Cinderella story to continue Oral Roberts is going to have to continue getting 25+ points from each of their two stars, along with getting a ton of help from role players. Their transition defense is going to really need to find a way to slow this Arkansas team down. If they can slow down Arkansas in transition, and be efficient offensively they’ll have a chance in the Sweet 16.
Now that I outlined how Oral Roberts can possibly win, let’s get real. This Arkansas team is a wagon. I see everyone focusing on the fast paced, three point shooting offense, and rightfully so. Getting lost in all the offensive glitter is their ability to play defense. Now are they a shut down defense who is going to hold someone to 50 points? No. But they consistently get stops when they need to, and find ways to improve defensively as the game goes on. If Arkansas can just play their normal game, they win this game.
Arkansas is the winner of this game plain and simple. Great showing from Oral Roberts, but the season is over.
#1 Michigan vs #4 Florida State
Michigan did not prove anything to me in the LSU game. They consistently gave up rebounds, and interior points to a smaller LSU team. The 8 point spread that they ended up winning by is extremely deceiving. LSU missed a ton of opportunities within the last 4 minutes of the game that would have changed the game completely. Everything I have said about Michigan was proven right in terms of a long athletic team who can push the ball being able to beat them. Florida State is another extremely athletic team who can push the pace, and they have the ability to give the Michigan interior trouble.
Unless a miracle happens and Livers gets back in the starting lineup I’ll take Florida State….and other than seeding, I don’t really even count it as an upset.
#2 Alabama vs #11 UCLA
UCLA is a interesting team. They have a very good point guard, scoring options, and respectable post players, but they lack the depth needed to run with this high octane Alabama team. Bama is one of the most analytical friendly teams in the country, and live by the “3 point or layups only” mindset. I don’t see UCLA being able to continuously chase this Alabama team up and down the court, and being able to score enough to win.
Unless Alabama has an absolute dud of a shooting game, which I don’t foresee happening, I’ll take Alabama by double digits. They’re just too much to handle.
#8 Loyola Chicago vs #12 Oregon State
After the nun, and the ugly mustache dude (I know he’s an All American so shut your mouth) took out Illinois to advance to the Sweet 16, I don’t really want to talk about this game. Oregon State has a track record of falling behind early in games, and the defense that Loyola Chicago has is extremely hard to come back on, so if they revert back to doing that they are finished.
I thought Oregon State looked absolutely amazing last round, but don’t see them having the ability to keep that up this round. Loyola Chicago is one of the best 8 seeds I’ve seen in years. They are a top 12 team in the country if you look at deeper statistics and rankings, and just the overall better, more well rounded team. Look for the solid defense, inside out attack, and magical ball movement of Loyola to shine. As much as I hate this, give me Loyola…..
#2 Houston vs #11 Syracuse
This game has my brain in shambles. Early in the week I loved Syracuse, then after a bit I liked Houston, and now I’m not sure, so I don’t know what the hell to tell you guys. If the Syracuse zone can force Houston to take contested shots, and take away driving lanes then the edge goes firmly to ‘Cuse. On the flip side, if the Houston guards can take advantage of fast break opportunities, and get the the ball to the free throw line offensively, they have the advantage.
I give Syracuse a slight edge just because of how well they shoot the ball, and I’m not sure Houston can slow that down, but if I’m being honest, this is a toss up game, and I’m not going to even try to predict or bet on it now. BPI gives Houston an 80% chance of winning….I don’t agree with that at all, and see this as a back and forth slug fest.
Florida State +3
Arkansas vs Oral Roberts under 159.5
Loyola Chicago -5.5
Loyola Chicago vs Oregon State Over 125.5
Baylor 1st half -3
Houston vs Syracuse Over 139.5