In a tournament that has seen some of the wildest upsets and entertaining play in the history of the March Madness tournament, the anticipation continues to build heading into the sweet sixteen. Although a number of the favorites coming into the March Madness tournament have demonstrated their dominance, there are quite a few teams who couldn’t handle the bright lights and have been sent home early.
Among some of the wildest upsets included 16-seed Farleigh Dickinson taking down the reigning Big Ten champs and 1-seed Purdue, in the second 16-seed upset victory in the history of the tournament. But this wasn’t the only shock, as 15-seed Princeton edged out 2-seed Arizona. Among the notable upsets includes 13-seed Furman over 4-seed Virginia in the round of 64, 15-seed Princeton over 7-seed Missouri, 7-seed Michigan State over 2-seed Marquette, and 8-seed Arkansas taking down the second 1-seed to get bounced from the tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks.
Heading into the sweet sixteen, which will be held on Thursday thru Saturday, March 23-25, there’s a number of interesting matchups that will surely prove to bring great excitement. Below I’ve given my predictions for the sweet sixteen, as it pertains to the championship contenders, the middle of the pack, and the cinderella hopefuls who have earned the support of the general audience.
Two 1-seeds remain in Houston, who faces 5-seed Miami(FL), and Alabama, who faces 5-seed San Diego State. Both teams entered the tournament as clear favorites and have been able to demonstrate why up to this point. Alabama, who is my choice to win the whole thing, will face the best remaining seed in their region this weekend, and if they’re able to achieve a victory against the Aztecs, will surely earn a spot in the Final Four.
As for the Houston Cougars, they still have a number of tough opponents lying ahead. I expect them to defeat Miami in their sweet sixteen matchup, but I would not be surprised if that’s their final win, as they would face either 2-seed Texas or 3-seed Xavier in the Elite Eight, who have both proven to be battle-tested squads. Their is still a lot to be decided, but I think only one 1-seed will make it to the Final Four, and my choice at the moment is the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Middle of the Pack
While there are only a few contenders, there is a surplus of middle tier teams. Some of the matchups between middle tier teams in include 3-seed Kansas State versus 7-seed Michigan State, 4-seed UConn versus 8-seed Arkansas, and 4-seed Tennessee versus 9-seed Florida Atlantic. These matchups really could go either way as I view all of these teams even opponents heading into the sweet sixteen.
However, as we know, only three of them will continue dancing and the rest will be sent packing home. Heading into the action in a few days, my choice to continue their March journey would definitely be 7-seed Michigan State, who have proven that they can make noise under experienced coach Tom Izzo, 4-seed UConn, who I think should have received a higher seed heading into the tournament and have proven so thus far, and 4-seed Tennessee, who have been far more battled tested and have had a more difficult schedule compared to their opponents.
As for the remaining matchups, I think 2-seed Texas will spoil 3-seed Xavier’s run and 2-seed UCLA will send the West Coast Conference champs 3-seed Gonzaga back to the Pacific Northwest. Although both Gonzaga and Xavier have impressed up tot this point, I don’t think they have the squads to sustain their sun.
The eighth and final matchup I will be discussing is between cinderella 15-seed Princeton and 6-seed Creighton. Heading into the matchup, it is easy to see why Creighton is the heavy favorite, as they’ve faced tougher opponents and have a better overall squad. But, I have to go with my gut and take the Princeton Tigers to win this matchup.
Princeton is the clear cinderella story this year and is the only team below a 9-seed that still remains in the tournament. After their shocking upset in the round of 64, they continued their run by squashing 7-seed Missouri by 15 points. The Tigers are America’s team at the moment and I simply can’t find a reason not to ride with the Ivy League champions.
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