To say this March has been madness would be an understatement, this tournament has definitely lived up to it’s name this year. We have only the 2nd 15 seed to ever make the tournament and a record amount of upsets to get to the sweet 16 that we have today. There were no perfect brackets and we’ve all busted out. To help get us back on track, we’ll break down each matchup and who we think will make the elite eight.
#8 Loyola Chicago vs. #12 Oregon State
Two teams that have both upset their last opponent to get to this stage with Loyola Chicago taking down #1 Illinois and Oregon State knocking off #5 Tennessee and a #4 seed in Oklahoma State which featured one of the top NBA draft prospects in Cade Cunningham on their roster. Both remarkable stories, especially with Loyola Chicago who are looking to return to the final four after their magical Cinderella run just a few years ago. Krutwig who was a freshman on that final 4 team is now a senior as things come full circle where Loyola Chicago is aiming for that spot. With the way Porter Moser has his boys playing, Loyola Chicago seems unstoppable right now. NOthing but praise to the Beavers for making it this far, but with the blessings of Sister Jean on Loyola Chicago’s side, the Ramblers are poised for a deep run.
#1 Baylor vs. #5 Villanova
Villanova has won the national championship two times in the last 5 years. The Wildcats are hungry for a 3rd championship and if they can get past the Baylor Bears, they very may well be on their way to doing so. That is a big IF as the Wildcats are without star Colin Gillepsie and hasn’t been the same since he went down near the end of the season. The Bears are on fire from deep right now and have handled their first 2 matchups with ease. The Wildcats will be one of the tougher matchups that the Bears have faced, but should squeeze this one out in a shootout.
#3 Arkansas vs. #15 Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts is only the 2nd number 15 seed to ever make the sweet 16 after Florida Gulf Coast did it nearly 10 years ago. Oral Roberts features a roster with the nation’s leading scorer in Max Abmas. Abmas has been nothing short of excellent in the Golden Eagles upsets over Ohio State and Florida. Abmas and Obanor duo are a force to be reckoned with. The Razorbacks will be the best defensive time by far that Oral Roberts will have faced this season. Arkansas was one of the pre-season projected final four picks and with their strong defensive efficiency will need one more game to get to that spot after they knock off Oral Roberts.
#2 Houston vs. #11 Syracuse
Buddy Boeheim has been one of the most exciting players to watch this March. He is lights out from anywhere on the court. Buddy, the son of legendary coach Jim Boeheim has helped Syracuse go from one of the last teams to make the tournament to back to back upsets in the tournament itself. Houston narrowly avoided an upset in the round of 32 to 10 seed Rutgers. Rutgers was impressive in the match, but choked late as Houston squeaked by the Big 10 team. Houston has not produced the defensive efficiency which they have shown all season and have looked like a different team in this tournament. We all know it is how teams play in the tournament that matter and Syracuse has outperformed Houston significantly so far. The Syracuse Orange will have a bit of a tougher match up their sleeve but with the incredible shooting show by their young core, they should continue their Cinderella streak.
#1 Gonzaga vs. #5 Creighton
The #1 overall seed in the country, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have easily knocked off their first two opponents. Gonzaga hasn’t lost a game all season and wants to win the tournament undefeated. Gonzaga is heavily favored to knock off Creighton and reasonably so. Creighton has avoided upsets by UC Santa Barbara and Ohio in their last 2 matchups. Gonzaga will continue their undefeated streak into the Elite Eight taking down Creighton with ease.
#1 Michigan vs. #4 Florida State
This will be one of the best games of the Sweet 16 by far. The #1 Michigan takes on #4 Florida State in a matchup of high-powered teams. Both teams have plenty of talent on their rosters. The Wolverines led by Juwan Howard are looking to go back to the national championship after getting destroyed by Villanova a couple seasons ago. The Wolverines take the edge on this one but in a nailbiter.
#2 Alabama vs. #11 UCLA
If you asked us any other year if Alabama would be playing UCLA in a tournament, we would assume you would be talking about College Football. That is not the case this year, Alabama is a #2 seed who has surprised many. UCLA, a historically strong College Basketball program was one of the last 4 teams to make the tournament. UCLA took down Michigan State, BYU, and dominated Abilene Christian University. The Bruins led by Johnny Juzang has been absolutely electric as of late and looking to continue the hot streak vs. Alabama. Juzang will play very well but Alabama will end up being too much for Juzang and his Bruins who look for another upset.
#6 USC vs. #7 Oregon
In another matchup of 2 teams who have upset their round of 32 opponents are set to square off in the sweet 16 against one another. The 7 seed Oregon Ducks took down 2 seed Iowa Hawkeyes and the 6 Seed USC easily managed 3 seed Kansas. Both teams have been much better than the seeds they were given. This will be one of the better matchups in the Sweet 16 and we are looking forward to watching this showdown of Pac-12 schools. We like both teams to play well and be a shootout of a matchup. USC has Evan Mobley who is one of the top players in the country and is likely to be the x-factor for the Trojans that pushes them into the Elite Eight over Oregon.