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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sweet Sixteen Breakdown


Well, if you are like anyone else on the planet, your bracket is probably shredded and in the trash by now.  However, March Madness is as interesting, if not more, than it ever has been, and mostly because of the teams that no one expected to still be playing.  Before you go and jump on the VCU bandwagon, however, let's make sure they really have what it takes.
The remaining match-ups:

#1 Ohio State vs #4 Kentucky-  This could be the most exciting match-up in the Sweet Sixteen.  Ohio State has been exceptional in every aspect of the game, but the most exciting part is that they have hit shots from the outside consistently.  The emergence of Brandon Knight as a bona fide star has Kentucky riding high.  Expect Calipari to have his team dialed in when a large crowd only a few hours from Kentucky meets for this contest.  We're predicting this game to be decided by a buzzer beater, and if it goes the way it has, Knight will have the ball in his hands at the end.

#2 UNC vs #11 Marquette-  Despite the fact that Marquette has upset both Xavier and Syracuse, it will be next to impossible for them to pull off the upset here. While they do take care of the ball by limiting turnovers, look for the athleticism of UNC to be too much for Marquette to handle.

#1 Kansas vs #12 Richmond- While there are many people jumping on the Spider's bandwagon, it might be better to just stay on your feet.  Just like Marquette and VCU, it took a late hot streak to get Richmond in the tournament, and they continued to ride that streak through the first weekend.  Despite the quality of play in their first three games, the Morris twins will be too much for Richmond to contain.  That and the fact that the supporting cast for the Morris twins has shown that there is more to Kansas than just two players will lead Kansas to another Elite 8.

#10 FSU vs #11 VCU- The way that VCU has played has been nothing short of amazing.  The speed from their guards has blown by any team that has attempted to run with them.  However, FSU has proven in these past two games that they have the perimeter defense to shut anyone down, and as long as they continue to manufacture points on the offensive side, FSU will be tough to beat.  This game might very well come down to free throws at the end.

#8 Butler vs #4 Wisconsin- Butler's size has been the reason they have been able to make it this far, and it was impressive to see them stand up to the giants that Pitt had out on the court.  That said, Wisconsin turns the ball over far less than an over-rated Pitt team did, and as long as Wisconsin doesn't go 10 minutes without a basket, they should squeak away with a win here.

#2 Florida vs #3 BYU-  Now that Pitt is out, both of these teams are watching their road to the Final Four clear the way.  This game should prove to be a battle between Jimmer Fredette and the backcourt of UF.  Chandler Parsons is proving why he won the SEC player of the year, and Irving Walker and Kenny Boynton are showing their skills from downtown.  Jimmer is next to impossible to stop, and don't expect Florida to contain him, but the Gators are looking to avenge their bitter loss from the first round last year, and as long as they don't forget that there are five players on their team, they should avoid the upset.

#1 Duke vs #5 Arizona- Since the start of the tournament, I've thought that Arizona was being over glorified by most of the so called "experts."  While Derrick Williams has proven that he will be a first round pick in the NBA draft, it takes more than one star to win in the Elite 8.  The addition of Irving to the Duke roster, who Coach K says will see significant playing time, makes Duke a clear favorite to reach the Final Four.  They can score inside and outside, and when it needs to be their defense is stifling.

#2 SDSU vs #3 UConn- This could very well be the fastest game of the tournament.  Both teams have exceptional speed and can get up and down the court with ease.  While Kemba Walker has been fantastic carrying his team through the tournament, there is only so far that one player can carry a team.  This is the limit.  SDSU controls the ball well, and the balance of talent will force players other than Walker to beat them.  This will be the end for the Big East champs.

The favorites are that for a reason.  The broad array of talent from these higher ranked teams should give them everything they need to advance to the Elite Eight.  Kentucky looks to be the favorite to pull off an upset, as long as their inexperience doesn't turn around and bite them.  Having Calipari as their coach should give them enough presence to pull the upset.

Possible Upset Alert-  BYU over Florida  or Butler over Wisconsin

Elite 8 Matchups-
#2 UNC vs #4 Kentucky
#1 Duke vs #2 SDSU
#1 Kansas vs #10 FSU
#2 Florida vs #4 Wisconsin

Final Four-
#4 Kentucky vs #1 Duke
#1 Kansas vs #4 Wisconsin

NCAA Championship
#1 Duke vs #4 Wisconsin

NCAA Champ--- #1 Duke

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