All sorts of double-digit seeds populate the last day of the Round of 32 as four teams hope to join (12) Oregon in the Sweet 16. Actually we will have at least two double-digit teams in the Sweet 16 as (12) Mississippi plays (13) La Salle in the West today, but more on that later.
Now for the picks:
Duke has been a different team since Ryan Kelly returned from injury. With Kelly, a Plumlee, Seth Curry amongst others, the (2) Blue Devils are a very deep team this year. But (7) Creighton isn’t going to be an easy out, led by senior forward Doug McDermott. The Bluejays haven’t made it to the Sweet 16 since the tournament expanded to 64 in 1985 (Thank you ncaa.com) and are looking to get over the hump with one of the better teams in school history. All of that said, and as much as I hate to ever pick them, I think Duke wins this one in close fashion.
The only double-digit matchup of the Round of 32 features (12) Mississippi and (13) La Salle. Leading up to the tournament I didn’t know anything about either of these teams, now I know that Marshall Henderson from Ole Miss may be one of the most entertaining players in all of college basketball. For all the wrong reasons. But if anyone has the balls to do this to Florida, then he can’t be that bad. Purely based on that alone I’m picking Mississippi to move on, because I’m sure he’d have some special to mock the Shockers of Wichita State.
Iowa State quickly has a chance to go down as my favorite team of the tournament. They had a chance to potentially beat three schools I hate before even reaching the Final Four. Wisconsin went and blew it to Ole Miss, which I’m OK with, and the Cyclones took out Notre Dame already to face Ohio State today. Iowa State jacks up a lot of three’s and if they get hot the Buckeyes could be in trouble. Just for the pure joy of having the lowest seeded team in the Sweet 16 from the West be #9, I’m picking Iowa State in an upset. And I hate Ohio State.
Kansas also managed to nearly get knocked off by a 16 seed in game one but were saved by the inspired play of senior center Jeff Withey. The Jayhawks have one of the most experienced lineups in the tournament with four starting seniors along with talented freshman Ben McLemore. With the size that Kansas has and the type of defense that they play it should cause headaches for North Carolina. The Tar Heels struggled until coach Roy Williams switched to a four guard starting lineup. This should be a battle of styles and I think the size and experience of Kansas will help them move on to face Michigan.
Minnesota was probably the only double-digit seed to be favored going into the first game, and they didn’t disappoint. Florida on the other hand crushed Northwestern St. in route to this meeting between longtime rivals Billy Donovan and Tubby Smith. This will be a differing of styles again as Florida is a more open, spread, scoring team while Minnesota is a tough defensive team that wants to grind it out. The Golden Gophers have the talent to slow down the Gators, but I think Florida will have the depth to overcome and move on.
San Diego State is facing the true Cinderella of this tournament in Florida Gulf Coast University. FGCU is in its second year of eligibility for the NCAA Tournament, so making the dance was considered an accomplishment. Beating #2 Georgetown must have seemed like a dream. FGCU plays a fast tempo that takes a lot of chances on both ends of the court. It was too much for Georgetown, and I think it will be too much for San Diego State, I’m picking Florida Gulf Coast to move to the Sweet 16 in another big upset. Besides, who outside of San Diego isn’t rooting for these guys?
Indiana plays Temple in the only bracket that hasn’t had a major upset so far. The Hoosiers are going to play the same way in the tourney as they have all Big Ten season long and their aren’t many teams left that have a chance at slowing them down. Temple is a solid team on both ends of the court, and star guard Khalif Wyatt is going to do everything he can to keep the Owls in this game, but I think that Indiana moves on after a great game from both teams.
Finally, Illinois takes on Miami for the final spot in the Sweet 16. I have seen the Illini play a couple of times this year and I have no idea which team is going to show up for this one. If it is the team that went to Gonzaga and won, they have a chance. If it is the team that struggled for most of the Big Ten season, they will be blown out of the water. Even if the great Illini team shows up, I think that the Hurricanes have the size and talent to dominate this game so I’m taking Miami to win.
That’s it for the preview of the Round of 32. Check in after the games on Monday to recap how good, or not good, I did and as always let us know your thoughts at DetroitSportsBloggers.com or on Facebook and Twitter.