March Madness: Sweet 16

Wow, surprise, surprise, surprise!  Six of the top 16 seeds fail to make it to week two including a #1 in Pittsburgh and a #2 Notre Dame, both from the Big East. We also have three double digit seeds in the Sweet 16, Virginia Commonwealth, Richmond and Marquette.

My own bracket took a major hit early with Louisville going down, I still had a chance to compete until my “sleeper” Kansas State lost and it all came crashing down when my title selection from Syracuse tumbled.

East Regional:

Ohio State vs Kentucky– Can anyone stop the Buckeyes? So far, the strategy has been to sag and prevent Jared Sullinger and Dallas Lauderdale from killing you in the paint…. fail.  Jon Diebler has been deadly from long range, and if you pay too much attention to him, William Buford puts on a show. The Wildcats looked good in the win over West Virginia, but I don’t see anyone stopping the Buckeye express.

Marquette vs UNCMarquette shocked #3 Syracuse in one of many Big East battles across the tournament. The Golden Eagles will have to stay hot from the perimeter to compete. The Tar Heels will try to lure them into a run and gun affair, with Harrison Barnes leading the way. Freshman  point Kendall Marshall will be tasked with keeping bigs Tyler Zeller and John Henson involved. UNC survives another close one.

West Regional:

Connecticut vs San Diego State– The Huskies survived a Big East rematch with Cincinnati, U Conn’s 7th game in 12 days!  Kemba Walker seems possessed and committed to get U Conn to Houston, but the key may be big Alex Oriakhi in the paint.  The Aztecs survived a marathon with Temple and will rely on superstar Kawhi Leonard. Playing in SoCal will help SD State, but may not be enough.

Duke v Arizona – Can the Blue Devils repeat? The chances almost ended in the narrow win over Michigan. Super Frosh Kyrie Irving hit the biggest shot of the game, his only points from the floor. I am really beginning to like the Wildcats, especially big time forward Derek Williams. Williams converted a three point play in Arizona’s miraculous last second comeback over Texas. In the end though, Duke is too balanced and too deep.

Southwest Regional:

Kansas vs Richmond– The Morris and Morris show continues, twins Marcus and Markieff with far too much for the Illini.  The Jayhawks can shoot and rebound and continued focus will land them in the Final Four. The Spiders will again be a heavy underdog, a roll they cherish. Richmond will need to shoot lights out from three point land to keep it close.

VCU vs Florida State– The Rams and Seminoles arrive in San Antonio after upset second round victories. VCU pounded heavily favored Purdue while FSU surprised #2 seed Notre Dame. The Seminoles are extremely athletic and defensive minded, and if they shoot like they did against the Fighting Irish, nobody may beat them.

Southeast Regional:

Butler vs Wisconsin – What can you say about the end of that Butler-Pittsburgh game? The Bulldogs gave the game away only to have the Panthers give it back, all in the last two seconds. Butler’s spiritual leaders is Matt Howard while their ultimate success lies with the shooting of Shelvin  Mack.  The Badgers held off Kansas State and are hard to figure. I gotta go with Butler to grind it out.

BYU vs Florida What’s not to like about Jimmer Fredette? In my mind, the most entertaining player in the college game. The Cougars absolutely blew out a solid Gonzaga team.  At some point the loss of Brandon Davies’ banging underneath will be felt, this may be the game.  The Gators may be the hottest team around down the stretch and their front line will be too imposing to overcome.

Play resumes on Thursday and Friday, the Elite eight over the weekend, then on to the Final Four!

Author: Tom Blaz

Tom is our featured columnist on FantasySP with more than 25 years of media experience in Radio and TV. You may know his work as a beat reporter for the Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland. He also reported LIVE from the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta. He is an avid Auburn fan, and writes for The Recruiting Eagle, a website focusing on Auburn athletics.

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