The MADNESS Preview: Sweet Sixteen

I hope you all really enjoyed the first two rounds and aren’t too upset about your brackets being busted! But how fun were those first two rounds? UAB beat Iowa State, and then Georgia State came from behind to beat Baylor at the last second. Let’s watch that RJ Hunter buzzer beater again!

Wow. It’s still just as amazing. RJ stepped up big time for his team and his coach0–who is also his dad–in the last five minutes, scoring 12 points to give the Panthers the win.

Rick Barnes did what he did best and lost despite having a more talented team. NEVER bet on Texas in the tournament while they are being coached by Barnes–he somehow screwed it up even when he had Durant. UCLA beat SMU on a goaltending call from a three-pointer, which might be the most rare and controversial way to win a basketball game. Ohio State barely edged VCU, largely due to a big game by D’Angelo Russell. NC State beat LSU on a buzzer beating tip in, and you have to see the bench’s reaction.

The Dayton Fliers upset the Providence Friars, which is great because their mascots rhyme. Frank Kaminsky had a huge game putting up 27/12/4. So did Aaron White of Iowa, whose great performance was the deciding factor in the Hawkeye’s win over Davidson. Valparaiso, UC Irvine, Albany, and Harvard all kept it close, but sadly my prediction of the 13 v 4 upset becoming the new 12 v 5 upset did not come true. Instead we had two 14 seeds upset two 3 seeds, which is even cooler in my opinion.

All of that was amazing and exciting and it was only the first two days! NC State managed to beat a number one seed in Villanova, keeping their improbable tournament hopes alive. Keep in mind this team was barely over .500 in conference play. The Wolfpack played lock down defense and limited Nova to just over 20% from the field. Then Utah beat Georgetown, because Georgetown will forever be eliminated in the round of 32 while being coached by a John Thompson. Time is a flat circle. Then Michigan State locked down Virginia, and thank God they did because the Cavaliers are the most boring team to watch ever and personify everything I hate about college basketball. UVA scored 18 points in the first half. That is disgusting. give MSU some credit on defense, but UVA has a very efficient but slow, boring, and unexciting offense on its own. I am so glad I don’t have to watch them anymore. This upset leaves the East wide open without a 1 or 2 seed. Wichita State crushed Kansas in the greatest in-state rivalry that doesn’t exist. And West Virginia’s uptempo offense was too much for Maryland to handle. Not as crazy as the round of 64, but there were some big upsets and great games in the round of 32. But what now?

The Sweet Sixteen

The games in the sweet sixteen are very good, but a few stand out. First: Wichita State and Notre Dame. The Shockers are led by a pair of dynamic guards in Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. Notre Dame has one of the best offenses in the country and is led by guard Jerian Grant who is averaging 17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in the tournament so far. Notre Dame hasn’t struggled to score its first two games, but neither have their opponents, leading to closer scores than the Irish would like. Wichita is a more balanced team and played good defense against Kansas and Indiana so far. The Irish are going to need a huge game from Grant to get into the Elite 8, but if the Shockers stay in this groove they’re in, it might already be too late for the Notre Dame.

NC State and Louisville meet in their second game this year. The Wolfpack beat the Cardinals by nine last time and have shown throughout the season and the post-season that they can play up to the levels of their opponents. Anthony Barber was the difference in the first meeting between these two teams, so if he has another big day NC State could be on its way to its first Elite Eight since the Valvano era. However if Louisville exhibits the same level of defensive hell it unleashed upon Northern Iowa, it could get ugly for the Wolfpack. Terry Rozier is a speedy guard for the Cardinals who could make life very unpleasant for NC State. He and Montrezl Harrell have put together some terrifying alley-oops.

To be fair, Rozier didn’t throw that pass. Honestly, I just wanted to watch this highlight again, but you get the point.

Michigan State and Oklahoma will be close. Duke might have a tougher time with Utah then you would think. Kentucky, Arizona, and Gonzaga should all win pretty easily. Wisconsin should beat UNC, but that could be a great game to watch. Frank Kaminsky is amazing and watching him go to work is fun. Whoa, hold on. What is that sound? It’s the overused gimmick alarm which must mean it’s time for …

Bold (stupid) Predictions:

  1. Jerian Grant drops 30 points 10 assists 7 rebounds and hits the game winning shot against Wichita State
  2. UNC chokes, hard
  3. Duke and Utah go to overtime, but Duke barely squeaks by
  4. NC State rolls over Louisville and goes on to the Final Four
  5. Kentucky’s lead never drops below 3 points
  6. Frank Kaminsky tuns out to be a Cyborg
  7. The entire UCLA basketball team goes missing and it’s up to Kevin Pangos, Kyle Wiltjer, Spike the Bulldog and the rest of the Gonzaga mystery solvin’ crew to figure out what happened. (Spoiler: It was totally old man Jenkins)
  8. Arizona sleeps through the first quarter, wakes up late, gets stuck in traffic, can’t find parking, and finally arrives to the game with 3 minutes remaining in the first half. They beat Xavier by 5.
  9. Michigan State and Oklahoma play a game of basketball

I’ll update my predictions for the next round, and I’m excited to see which ones come true, but just in case I put a safety choice in there to assure I at least get one. (Hint: It’s number 2). Also, I hope your team loses.

Kyle is a student at Georgia Tech and has taken it upon himself to rewrite his own bio. He has a ton of #HOTSPORTSTAKES and general sports thoughts floating around in his head. It is good that he now has this blog to express those thoughts instead of rambling about them to random strangers on the street. Kyle loves basketball and football and baseball and all other sports. His unedited articles are a grammatical nightmare for K.

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