Cleat Geeks

Thursdays Sweet 16 Predictions & Results

After one of the most exciting first weekends of March Madness saw ten double-digit seeds reach the Round of 32, we are privileged to witness once again this weekend as just four squads attempt to survive the Sweet 16 or continue their Cinderella runs en route to Houston. Tonight is just day one of a four nights of exciting basketball, beginning with the South and West Regions.

2 VIllanova vs 3 Miami

VillanovaMascotKicking off Sweet 16 action is a match-up of two very similar squads, both of which prefer fast paced guard action with plenty of ball screens and an array of defensive sets.  Miami looked almost unstoppable in an opening 27-6 run against Wichita State, but displayed its vulnerability when WSU compiled a shocking (pun intended) comeback to take a second half lead on the Hurricanes.  Even so, Larranaga’s team looked just as strong in closing out the Shockers than it did in the opening minutes.  However, Jay Wright’s squad was just as dominant in the opening weekend, shooting almost 60% from the field during routs of Asheville and Iowa, winning by a combined margin of 49 points.  Tonight’s match-up will be won by the better backcourt play, as each team features strong three-point shooting lately. Villanova’s scoring over 81 PPG in the last three months, but the Canes should be able to catch up through its uncanny use of the free throw line, where the team has made more foul shots than its opponents have attempted.  

Prediction: Expect Miami to get hot quickly from behind the arc en route to an impressive win against the #1-ranked Wildcats.

What really happened: Miami shot 53 percent from the field and made 10 3-pointers – great numbers. And the Hurricanes were run out of the gym, never leading and only being tied at 0-0 for the first 1:02. From that point onward, Miami was playing catch-up. The Wildcats shot 63 percent from the field (32-of-51), 67 percent from 3-point range (10-15) and 95 percent from the foul line (18-19). Final Score 92-59 Wildcats.

2 Oklahoma vs 3 Texas A&M

BuddyHieldAction continues almost immediately after the start of Nova-Miami game, as Buddy Hield and the Sooners look to shake down the Aggies of A&M.  It’s tough to debate which performance was more impressive last weekend, as the Aggies overcome statistical impossibility to defeat a hot Northern Iowa team in just the last thirty seconds of overtime #4, while of course Hield squeaked by another upset bid with a dominant 36 point performance, most of which came in the second half against VCU.  I’ve said it many times before, Oklahoma will go as far as Hield and three-point shooting will take it, and last weekend’s games prove that both of which are excelling at just the right time.  However, if the Aggies’ Tyler Davis can get hot in the paint, the Sooners could see their Final Four run disappear. Otherwise, OU’s starters, who will have played their 101st game together tonight, will decimate A&M.  

Prediction: The Sooners win this one.

What Really Happened: Oklahoma turned up the tempo in the first half and Texas A&M made the mistake of thinking it could keep pace. The Sooners surged to a 19-point halftime lead and the Aggies didn’t have another miracle comeback in them. The Sooners advance to their first Elite Eight since 2009 with a 77-63 victory.

1 Kansas vs 5 Maryland

Next up is one of the most talent-filled games of the tournament. Maryland is full of it, from Sulaimon to Trimble to five big men who will easily match up with Perry Ellis down low and take away one of the Jayhawks’ strengths. Even with inability to play as a single unit, everyone has erupted lately for the Terps, with senior Jake Layman tacking on 27 points in a first round match-up while hitting five three-pointers. Kansas, on the other hand, doesn’t have as great of players, but is the much better team. The Jayhawks have won 16 straight while playing through a rigorous Big 12 schedule. They also dominated their biggest test of the tournament, knocking off UCONN in dominant fashion. Kansas can score, and Bill Self is brilliant-minded to the point where he’ll out-coach his opponents to win games, rather than leaving the program’s fate in the hands of 20-year olds.  Maryland’s getting hot at the right time, but Kansas has been hot all year long.KansasNCAAbball  

Prediction: The Jayhawks survive a thriller.

What Really Happened: The teams were evenly matched for most of the first half, with Kansas holding a 36-34 lead at the break despite a 4-for-18 shooting start. Both teams opened up the second half with scoring spurts, but Kansas was able to extend its lead to nine points just five minutes in. Ellis hit on 10 of his 17 shot attempts and was also a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Ellis was virtually unstoppable for No. 1 seed Kansas, scoring a game-high 27 points in a 79-63 win.

1 Oregon vs 4 Duke

Most experts counted these two teams out early, expecting the Blue Devils to fall at the hands of UNC-Wilmington and Oregon to get upset by Saint Joe’s. Both of which were incrementally close to occurring, but in the tournament, a win’s a win, no matter how ugly it is. The Blue Devils struggle immensely on the glass, a weakness that was exploited in each of its first two games; however, the Ducks are only nominally better than Duke in that regard, which doesn’t help the 1 seed’s cause.  In addition, while Oregon has some very good players, Coach K’s squad has the two best on the floor in Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen.  Not to mention Mason Plumlee and Amile Jefferson should help settle post-play woes.  In a tournament of match-ups, Oregon got slated with a bad hand in OregonNCAAbballthis one.  

Prediction: Duke should defeat its improbable odds to reach the Elite Eight in the ugliest of tonight’s games.

What Really Happened: The Ducks simply had too much depth and too many scoring options for Duke to overcome and the Blue Devils, at times, seemed to lack the energy to take advantage of the opportunities it did find in a 82-68 loss.

Key Notes:

-The ACC has proven its the top conference, with a 12-1 tournament record and six Sweet 16 teams.

-The Pac 12 sent only Oregon to the Sweet 16 after boasting seven tournament teams.

-The Big 12 and B1G, the other two “Which is the best conference?” contenders, each advanced three teams.

-Wisconsin has 11 tournament wins in just the last three years, the winningest of the remaining sixteen.

-Four #1 seeds survived the first two rounds for the first time since 2012.

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