5 Kentucky vs. 9 Kansas State
Kentucky has been playing unbelievable basketball so far, even though their opponents weren’t the best, the Wildcats still made strong showings. In their last game, Kentucky beat upstart Buffalo by 20 points 95-75. On the other hand, Kansas State has played Creighton and also the Cinderella story 16 seed UMBC. Kansas State has seen more of a challenge so far in the tournament, but I still believe that Kentucky will beat them and move onto the next round.
11 Loyola Chicago vs. 7 Nevada
Loyola Chicago won both of their games on last second buzzer beaters. They faced two tough teams in Tennessee and in Miami. In both games, Loyola had to fight back from double-digit deficits which shows their resilience. Meanwhile, Nevada also had to come back from 20 down against Cincinnati and also hit a buzzer beater to win. Both teams have been tested throughout this tournament and this matchup may be the most exciting to watch. I think I will take Loyola Chicago, only because I would love to see the underdog win.
9 Florida State vs. 4 Gonzaga
Florida State stunned #1, Xavier, beating them 75-70. That game was an important win for Florida State’s program, it will give them a lot of momentum and confidence against Gonzaga on Thursday, March 22nd. Gonzaga out dueled Ohio State last week in a high scoring affair which ended with the final score of 90-84. Florida State could cause trouble for Gonzaga but I am fairly certain that Gonzaga will win the matchup.
3 Michigan vs. 7 Texas A&M
I am not taking any credit away from Texas A&M, but they played a BAD North Carolina team. Carolina had plenty of open shots but just couldn’t make any of them. Meanwhile, Michigan was in an all out dogfight with Houston and they only won that game because a Houston player missed two free throws and Michigan hit a buzzer beater. I think Michigan will steamroll Texas A&M, in this matchup.
1 Villanova vs. 5 West Virginia
Both teams have been stellar throughout the tournament. West Virginia blew out both of their opponents and Villanova did the same in both of their games. Villanova’s offense is ranked best in the country, while West Virginia plays pretty stellar defense. It could definitely come down to the wire and is definitely a game that you have to watch. I will take Villanova though in this matchup simply because, in the long run, I don’t think West Virginia will be able to keep up with Villanova’s offense.
2 Purdue vs. 3 Texas Tech
Purdue barely squeezed by Butler in their last game, which was largely due to the absence of center Isaac Haas. There have been talks though, that Haas could see the floor again if Purdue’s Engineering Scool can design a special brace for his arm that also meets NCAA standards. On the other hand, Texas Tech almost lost to 6 seed Florida, the final score was 69-66. This game will largely depend on if Haas ends up playing if he does play and contribute, Purdue will easily win. If Haas cannot play, then the game will be a closer contest, but I still expect the Boilermakers to win.
1 Kansas vs. 5 Clemson
Clemson shocked the world by destroying Auburn 84-53, which validated them in the eyes of many as a true contender. This will be Kansas’s first real test of the tournament and it will be interesting to see how they respond to it. The key for Kansas will be if Udoka Azubuike can stay out of foul trouble. If he gets into trouble early, Kansas’s chances to move on will drop significantly. Clemson’ defense is ranked 27th in the nation and they have played extremely well when given 4-5 days of rest which they will have. In this matchup. I will take Clemson over Kansas.
2 Duke vs. 11 Syracuse
Syracuse has been the surprise team in this tournament, they were a in play team that ended up winning their first game and then defeated 2 Michigan State, many expert’s picks to win it all this year. Duke on the other hand has been dominating. Their offense looks impenetrable and their defense has wreaked havoc on teams. In this matchup, I will take Duke. Syracuse and Duke are evenly matched on the defensive side of the ball, both teams use a 2-3 zone, but Syracuse lacks the offensive firepower to keep up with Duke.