One of the most exciting times of the year is at hand: the Sweet Sixteen! March Madness is at its finest, only sixteen teams are left in the tournament and this year’s tournament has been one of the most exciting and surprising ever! Let’s go over the surprises and some predictions.
In the Round of Sixty Four, nine double digit teams made the second round. That means that there were nine major upsets!
The biggest surprise was Oral Roberts beating Ohio State, as OSU is a two seed and Oral Roberts is a fifteen seed! This is only the ninth time that a fifteen seed won in the first round! They also beat Florida in the second round to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Abilene Christian also had a huge win over Texas in the first round. Abilene Christian was a fourteen seed, Texas a three seed. This game came down to the wire and was one of the more exciting first round games. Abilene Christian was fouled with one second left and made both free throws to win the game!
Thirteen seed Ohio beat defending champions Virginia to advance to the second round, but they lost to five seed Creighton.
Eleven seeded Syracuse beat Sixth seeded San Diego State to advance to the second round and then beat third seeded West Virginia to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
In that same region, twelfth seeded Oregon State beat fifth seeded Tennessee and then in the second round beat projected number one pick in the NBA draft, Cade Cunningham’s Oklahoma State, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Number eleven seeded UCLA beat Michigan State University in the first four round, then beat BYU in the first round, and then they went on to beat Abilene Christian in the second round to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Number ten seeded Maryland beat number seven seeded UConn in the first round but lost to number two seeded Alabama in the second round.
Number ten seeded Rutgers beat number seven seeded Clemson in the first round but then went on to lose to number two seeded Houston in the second round. Rutgers had a large lead but Houston went on a major scoring run in the last minutes of the game to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
The last major upset was number thirteen seeded North Texas beating number four seeded Purdue in the first round. North Texas was in complete control of the game and pulled out the upset but went on to lose in the second round to number five seeded Villinova.
Now that you’ve seen the major upsets I’ll go over my predictions for the Sweet Sixteen, matchup by matchup.
1.Gonzaga vs 5.Creighton: This will not be a close game at all. Creighton had a close win against UCSB in the first round, and although they did clobber Ohio in the second round, Ohio is nothing compared to Gonzaga. Gonzaga has won every game this season and they will not suffer their first loss against Creighton. Gonzaga’s offense will prove too much for the Bluejays and Gozaga will continue their run into the Elite Eight.
6.USC vs 7.Oregon: This one could very well go either way. Both teams destroyed their opponents in the second round. USC beating third seeded Kansas by thirty-four and Oregon beating second seeded Iowa by fifteen. I think USC will dance into the Elite Eight led by Evan Mobley, although something could be said for Oregon winning. They put up strong numbers against Iowa but USC showed more dominance in their win. USC will win, but by a hair.
1.Michigan vs 4. Florida State: This has the potential to be one of the best games of the tournament. Florida State showed signs of being a championship caliber team, when they routed Colorado they looked unstoppable. But then again, throughout this season Michigan has shown signs of being one of the best teams in the country. Without star senior Isiah Livers this matchup could be a very close one for Michigan, but I think they will prevail.
2.Alabama vs 11.UCLA: This game could very well be the opposite of Michigan vs FSU. Alabama dominates. This team has shown no signs of slowing down during their run as one of the best teams in the country. UCLA did go into overtime against MSU, but won by only six. They then went on to beat BYU and Abilene Christian, but nevertheless this is where their run ends. Alabama easily advances to the Elite Eight.
1.Baylor vs 5.Villinova: This game could be either close or a blowout. To give Villanova credit, they have played better than I expected. Without their star I thought that they would lose to Purdue in the second round, but instead Purdue lost and Villanova cruised to an easy victory against North Texas. Their ball movement has been extraordinary and I think they could give Baylor a fight. We know the old saying: don’t pick a fight you can’t win, but here’s an example of someone breaking that rule. Villanova picks a fight, and has a chance, but the Bears will likely still pull out and advance to the Elite Eight.
3.Arkansas vs 15.Oral Roberts: This is probably the most exciting matchup in the Sweet Sixteen. Oral Roberts has defied all odds and broken nearly everyone’s bracket. This fifteen seed has been one of the most exciting teams to watch. Coming from a Michigan fan, Oral Roberts beating Ohio State may be one of the best moments of this tournament. Now onto the prediction. Oral Roberts will win. They have all the hype on their side, they showed that they can beat great opponents. They knocked off the number two seed. Why can’t they knock off the three seed? This one could either be a blowout or a close one, I think it will be a close game with Oral Roberts hanging on for the win.
8.Loyola Chicago vs 12.Oregon State: In the most surprising matchup of all, Loyola Chicago is looking to be the Cinderella story again, while Oregon State is looking to make the Elite Eight for the first time since 1982 (the NCAA later took back the 1982 results for violating NCAA rules). Both teams have come a long way in this tournament. Loyola Chicago came from behind to beat ACC champion Georgia Tech in the first round and then upset number one seeded Illinois in the second round! Oregon State also had a great first round beating number five Tennessee and then beating the projected number one pick Cade Cunningham and his Oklahoma State basketball team. I think Loyola Chicago will win: although Oregon State could put up a fight, Loyola Chicago has shown more dominance and I think they will advance to the Elite Eight.
2.Houston vs 11.Syracuse: I think this could be an upset. Syracuse has shown signs of making a run, and their win against West Virginia was something else. It was three after three after three. On the other end Houston had to come from behind to beat ten seeded Rutgers and that did not look very good for them. I think this one will come down to the wire but Syracuse will prevail.
1.Gonzaga vs 6.USC: Gonzaga right about now looks unbeatable. They have dominated every opponent they have gone against but this game will be different. USC has had a run and it continues into the Final Four. They have defensive star Evan Mobley, who will make the difference and push USC into the Final Four, but it will be close. Gonzaga suffers its first loss of the season.
1.Michigan vs 2.Alabama: This one will be where Alabama’s run ends. Michigan has the hype. This would be their second Final Four in four years. One of the key qualities of Michigan is that they can control the tempo of the game and that is what will take down Alabama. Michigan continues their run into the Final Four. Alabama puts up a fight but they can’t adjust their play to how Michigan plays the game.
1.Baylor vs 15.Oral Roberts: This is where it ends for Oral Roberts, they just can’t compete with Baylor. They won’t be able to keep up with the pace of the game. Baylor will advance to the Final Four. Oral Roberts won’t even be able to keep it close. They made it to the Elite Eight but that’s where it ends. Baylor is in complete control and has an easy win to advance to the Final Four.
8.Loyola Chicago vs 11.Syracuse: Both teams have come so far and have accomplished so much, and they have a lot of hype surrounding them. Syracuse will dominate from the perimeter and Loyola Chicago from the paint. I think Loyola Chicago will advance to the Final Four by beating the Syracuse defense. When they played Illinois, Illinois couldn’t keep up with the plays that Loyola Chicago was running and the same will be true for Syracuse. Loyola Chicago wins by ten and goes to the Final Four again.
1.Michigan vs 6.USC: Both teams have come a long way. USC has defied all odds and beaten the unbeatable. Michigan has also gone against everything that was said about them not being able to compete without Isiah Livers. In the end Michigan will win because Hunter Dickinson can dominate in the paint and beat out the USC defense. Michigan can also dominate from the perimeter so whatever happens they’re set to beat the defense. USC can’t compete with the defense that Michigan plays, and Michigan will go to the finals again.
1.Baylor vs 8.Loyola Chicago: Loyola Chicago has gone on another run and is looking to make it to the finals. Baylor right now is the best team left in terms of regular season play but Loyola Chicago is on a roll. Loyola Chicago can slow down Baylor’s fast paced play and beat them at their own game, playing good defense both inside and outside the perimeter and doing the same on offense. Loyola Chicago beats Baylor by three and advances to the finals.
1.Michigan vs 8.Loyola Chicago: A rematch of the twenty-eighteen Final Four: Michigan vs Loyola Chicago. Michigan entered the tournament as the counted-out number one seed but made their point that they are able to compete. They will be the last one seed left. Loyola Chicago also entered the tournament counted-out. Many thought that they would lose to Georgia Tech, or if they won that game then they would be blown out by Illinois. They made it to the finals. Both teams have defied all odds to make it to this game. Who wins? Michigan starts out strong but then Loyola Chicago goes on a run to end the first half up by two. Forty-five to forty-three. They come out strong to start the second half. With ten minutes left Michigan finds themselves in a tough position, down by twelve they need to go on a run. They do. With fifty seconds left in the game they are down by three and have the ball. Chaundee Brown gets it on the outside, he passes it to Eli Brooks who dribbles around and pump fakes and passes back to Brown for the clutch three! Tie game. With the clock winding down Loyola Chicago passes it up the middle for a huge dunk! Ten seconds left in the game. Michigan inbounds and passes it up. Five, four, three, and then Brooks gets it on the outside, it’s up and good! Michigan wins the championship! March Madness at its finest.
I hope you enjoyed my predictions for what will happen in the rest of the tournament. Go enjoy some basketball, it’s March!