Breaking Down the Sweet 16

 

Jim Larranaga

I expect Larranaga's Hurricanes to beat Marquette and advance to the Elite Eight.

The Sweet Sixteen is set in this year’s NCAA Tournament and I think you’re full of crap if you had Florida Gulf Coast University facing Florida and LaSalle playing Wichita State. Of course you could be one of those very, very, very few who actually had FGCU or LaSalle or even Wichita State advancing this far.

My own personal bracket remains decently in tact with all four of my final four teams remaining in Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas and Miami. I’m not exactly expecting victory because I lost too many early battles with Georgetown, Gonzaga and Wisconsin departing much earlier than I had expected.

With that said, here’s my take on the eight remaining games left in the 2013 NCAA Tournament or as most of us know it, March Madness.

Louisville vs Oregon – The fact that the Ducks are here should not come as a surprise despite them being a 12-seed. Everyone this side of Antarctica knows the selection committee dropped the ball on their seeding and they’ve used it as motivation. The Cards have been outstanding so far and I expect that continue against Oregon. The Cards pressure forces turnovers and the Ducks are brutal in the ball-handling department. Unless Louisville is cold and the Ducks on fire, I can’t see this one being close. Take the Cards.

Michigan State vs Duke – The Blue Devils have been pretty impressive through their first two games but the Spartans have been pretty good too. In order for MSU to win they must take care of the ball. They have turned it over a ton through two games and Tom Izzo knows it can’t continue against Duke. For Duke, they must compete on the boards and limit the power and strength of the Spartans in the paint. I can see either team winning but I think Duke’s balance is too much for Sparty.

Wichita State vs LaSalle – The Shockers have done just that in surprising the field with two straight wins but this isn’t surprising to anyone who knows college ball. They played Big East basketball in defeating Pitt and then knocked off number one seed Gonzaga. LaSalle has come from the play-in game to win two more and make the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1955. I think LaSalle’s road ends here due to the balance and power of WSU.

 

Aaron Craft
OSU’s Craft has been sensational so far this tournament.

Arizona vs Ohio State – The Buckeyes played a third round classic in knocking off Iowa State on an Aaron Craft three-pointer while the Wildcats ended Harvard’s little run with a convincing victory. This has the makings of being yet another classic and Arizona has clearly played better than I thought they would in the tournament but the Buckeyes are just too balanced and to darn good on the defensive end right now.

Kansas vs Michigan – Outside Louisville, these two might be playing the best basketball in the tourney. I really thought Michigan would struggle against VCU’s pressure but they attacked it and ate it up. Kansas has played well too and has incredible leadership and balance. This one will again depend on how much impact the ‘bigs’ can have for each team. I really like Michigan right now but it has to be the Jayhawks simply because of experience and coaching.

Florida vs Florida Gulf Coast – This has been a great story and has every chance of continuing but I don’t see it. Billy Donovan has the Gators in the Sweet 16 for the 3rd straight year and few coaches have the resume he does. FGCU has been a blast to watch and enjoy but I firmly expect a gameplan that will eliminate their explosiveness. Take the Gators to advance.

Indiana vs Syracuse – I’ve had my doubts about the Hoosiers more than once this year, but I think the Orange’s zone falls right into the Indiana Hoosiers’ hands because they can knock down the threes in bunches. The Orange are more than capable of pulling off the upset but I’m skeptical that this version Syracuse has the toughness to match IU. Take the Hooisers.

Marquette vs Miami – With teams like the Eagles, you can look at it one of two ways. They’re destined for bigger things with those razor-thin wins or they’re just getting lucky and their time is coming due. I believe it is going to be the latter because Miami has crazy athleticism and tremendous leadership at the point guard position. I just believe the Eagles are at the end of their string and there is something special about this Hurricanes team.

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