Sweet 16 Preview

March 24, 2010

After my less than acceptable post a few days ago, I have come back with enough thoughts and opinions to make this post more worthwhile. In less than a day, we will kick off the second week of games in the NCAA Tournament. There are always those that will complain that the top seeds being out make the tournament less interesting, but here is a simple solution to all of those who feel that way: Take your bracket, find the nearest wastebasket, and do your best impression of Mickey McConnell chucking up a three. Forget your bracket, and just enjoy the games. Admit it or not, that’s the only reason you feel that way. So far this has been one of the most competitive and exciting NCAA Tournaments that I have ever seen, and I would take that any day over ho-hum games in which the top seeds all advance.

I’ve come up with a list of games that you should definitely pay attention to during the next two days. I’ll also give you my thoughts on who will be moving on to the Elite 8.

Games to Watch


#2 Kansas State vs. #6 Xavier (starts approx. 9:37 pm)

Xavier does not feel at all like they are lucky to be here; this is the third season in as many years that the Musketeers have made the Sweet 16. The confidence of both teams is a big reason why this game should be so interesting. Expect a lot of shots from guards Dennis Clemente and Jacob Pullen of Kansas State, because their production will be a major factor in determining the outcome of this game. The Wildcats stopped do-it-all guard Jimmer Fredette in the last round, and the defense will be called on again to stop Xavier’s big time scoring threat Jordan Crawford. If Crawford continues to play well and the Musketeer defense can play solid perimeter defense, limiting the outside attempts for Clemente and Pullen, then this game should be as exciting as their last game against Pittsburgh.

#1 Kentucky vs. #12 Cornell (starts approx. 9:57 pm)

This game has probably been the most talked about and anticipated matchup throughout this week. Cornell has the size, experience, and the ability to control the tempo of the game. Kentucky has the outstanding athleticism and can run opposing teams right off the court. Cornell will need to control the pace and shoot the ball well from behind the arc if they want a chance to win this game. This would likely be the biggest upset of the tournament so far if Cornell were to win, but don’t count out the Big Red. The experience and leadership of their core of seniors gives them the upper hand over the youthful Wildcats in that respect.


#2 Ohio State vs. #6 Tennessee (starts approx. 7:07 pm)

No offense to Michigan State and Northern Iowa, but the winner of this game will likely be the team representing the Midwest region in the Final Four. Ohio State has not played their absolute best basketball in the tournament thus far, but has been getting good production out of guard Jon Diebler, who is often streaky. Tennessee did not play their best basketball in the first two rounds either, but received help from their bench in order to make it this far. The Volunteers will likely have trouble down low against Dallas Lauderdale, so they will need good three point shooting from the guards in order to spread the defense underneath. The three ball will be flying a lot in this game, so it may come down to who is stroking better on Friday night.

#3 Baylor vs. #10 St. Mary’s (starts approx. 7:27 pm)

This is possibly my favorite Sweet 16 matchup, mostly because I love watching St. Mary’s play. Matthew Delladova’s mouthguard, Omar Samhan’s trash-talking, and Mickey McConnell’s rainbow shot that seems to always find the basket (if you didn’t click on the link above, do so and you’ll see what I mean) make this team one to fall in love with. Samhan is a beast inside, although Baylor center Ekpe Udoh will be his toughest test of the tournament thus far. It will be interesting to see if the Gaels can create open shots and hit them like they did against Villanova, or if Baylor’s tough defense will force them into taking contested shots. The Gaels will need to force Bears guard LaceDarius Dunn to play a game similar to the one Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds played against St. Mary’s if they want to win, but they can’t forget about point guard Tweet Carter, either. This will definitely be St. Mary’s toughest game so far, but Omar Samhan’s mom knows what the Gaels are capable of doing. Instead of buying tickets to Providence to see her son play last weekend, she told him she was only going to buy tickets to Houston, where this Sweet 16 game will be played. Tough love, huh?

My Picks


#9 Northern Iowa over #5 Michigan State
#2 Ohio State over #6 Tennessee


#1 Syracuse over #5 Butler
#2 Kansas State over #6 Xavier


#1 Kentucky over #12 Cornell
#2 West Virginia over #11 Washington


#1 Duke over #4 Purdue
#10 St. Mary’s over #3 Baylor

I probably won’t post a new entry after the Sweet 16 games until the Final Four is set. With that being said, all I’m asking for is that these games are close and exciting, continuing the trend of what has already been an outstanding tournament.

– K. Becks

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