Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Sweet 16 Predictions

With my bracket sort of in shambles (thanks Pac-10!), it's time to move on and give some new predictions for the Sweet 16. The 8 games look to provide some very interesting matchups and contrasting styles, making it a pretty nice slate of games.

North Carolina over Washington - You couldn't ask for a game with more diverse playing styles. North Carolina likes to run all day, as they have averaged 110.5 PPG in the Tourney. Washington St. likes to slow things down and grind it out, giving up an averge of 40.5 PPG in the first 2 games. As they say, something has to give. Only allowing 41 points to Notre Dame is seriously impressive, and leads me to believe that the Cougars are going to make this game a lot closer than the talent would suggest that it could. Washington St. will be able to slow things down and make North Carolina shoot a lot of jumpshots, but in the end, I don't see them having any way of shutting down Tyler Hansbrough in the post.

Louisville over Tennessee - I picked Tennessee to win this game before the Tournament, but I am changing my vote. Louisville has been a lot more impressive than the Volunteers have so far. Both teams like to play full-court games, and it seems like Tennessee is having some trouble holding onto the ball with some questions at the PG spot (let's just say we probably won't be saying JP Prince start again this game). This should be an extremely entertaining game between two very good, well-coached teams, but I think Louisville is playing better basketball right now.

Kansas over Villanova - The Wildcats have been impressive thus far, but it's hard to see them matching up with Kansas. The Jayhawks guards are good enough defensively to stop Scottie Reynolds, and it seems as if they just have too much depth for Villanova to contend with.

Wisconsin over Davidson - Davidson is the Cinderella team of the Tournament so far (even more so than lower-seeded Western Kentucky), which makes them a bit of a trendy pick here. But I like the Badgers and their stout defense to move on. They have the athletes to throw at Stephen Curry to be able to slow down his open looks (granted, he doesn't need much space for it to be an open look), and they might be the best help defense team in the country, meaning that Curry won't find a lot of space when he drives the ball. Not that Georgetown or Gonzaga were poor defensive teams, but I just think Curry is going to have a much tougher go of it against the Badgers, propelling Bo Ryan's team to the Elite Eight.

Memphis over Michigan St. - Michigan St. will try to slow things down and grind it out, but I don't see them having enough offense to keep up with Memphis all game. The Tigers are a solid defensive team, and I don't see the Spartans having enough playmakers to keep a consistent flow going in the halfcourt offense for Michigan St. I like Memphis here.

Texas over Stanford - A fascinating matchup between two teams that do completely different things (and do them well), I like the Longhorns by a smidgen. The Lopez Twins will be very difficult for Texas to contain, and they will also slow down the penetration of DJ Augustin, but I think the versatility of Damion James will make the difference. He will make the Stanford bigs come out and defend him, drawing them away from the basket. This should be a great matchup.

UCLA over Western Kentucky - Courtney Lee will give the Bruins some problems, but not enough for WKU to overcome UCLA. The Bruins suffered a scare against A&M, but I have a hard time seeing them so unfocused (at least for the first 30 minutes) for 2 straight games under Ben Howland. Kevin Love looked like he was on a mission at the end of last game, and Darren Collison is playing the best basketball of his career.

Xavier over West Virginia - Xavier is a more complete team than the ones that WVU has beaten so far. They can go inside or outside, and the Mountaineers will have some trouble matching up with Josh Duncan for the Musketeers. Meanwhile, I think that Xavier's athletic wing players will be able to slow down Joe Alexander and Alex Ruoff, allowing Xavier to move on.

Not a lot of upsets, but that is the beauty of March... sometimes they're really hard to see before they happen. What do you think will happen this weekend?