The Rebellion’s Guide to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament

The+Rebellions+Guide+to+the+Sweet+Sixteen+of+the+NCAA+Tournament

Matt Brownsword

ncaa-tournament-2013

 This is the preview of the NCAA Tournament, for the Sweet Sixteen of each region. Junior Bobby Rabaioli did the South; junior Pete Hoegler, the East; senior Jake Moser, the Midwest; I, the West.

Midwest Region

Surprise

The Oregon Ducks have had a magical run through the tournament thus far.
The Oregon Ducks have had a magical run through the tournament thus far.

(12) Oregon

Damyean Dotson scored 17 points to lead four Oregon players in double figures, while Arsalan Kazemi donated 11 points to go along with a game-high 17 rebounds as Oregon eased past Oklahoma State, 68-55, in first round action of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region last week. Then against St. Louis, Dotson and Carlos Emory, scored a combined 37 points as the hot-shooting Ducks sprinted past fourth-seeded Saint Louis 74-57 on Saturday night.  Dotson made his first five 3-pointers to propel Oregon (28-8) into the second weekend for the first time since 2007, when it lost to eventual repeat champion Florida in the regional final. The Ducks made 8 of 11 shots from beyond the arc, while the St. Louis Billikens finished 3 for 21 from long range.After the NCAA selection committee turned some heads for seeding Oregon so low, the Ducks dismissed two favorites by a combined 30 points in San Jose. Oregon will play No. 1 overall seed Louisville in the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis next.

Game Previews

(1) Louisville against (12) Oregon on Friday, March 29 @ 7:30 on CBS

Louisville has more experienced, better overall talent. Still, sometimes a strange version of some of the Cardinals players appear during games. Russ Smith can go all Rusdiculous at the wrong times, Peyton Siva can magically become a mediocre player and Louisville is obviously worse-off when these things happen. It will be up to Rick Pitino to make sure the better versions of these two players show up.  Dotson has quietly stole the NCAA Tournament show. While there might be funner, more lighthearted stories in the state of Florida, Dotson has been playing lights-out in the first two postseason games. So far, Dotson is averaging 20 points per game in the big dance—that is nine points above his average. Oregon’s success or failure will likely be keyed by the freshman.  I think it is safe at this point to assume everyone knows Oregon is better than a 12-seed. However, it won’t be enough to get past the number one overall seed.

Michigan State needs Derrick Nix to step up for them to have a chance of beating Duke.
Michigan State needs Derrick Nix to step up for them to have a chance of beating Duke.

(2) Duke against (3) Michigan St. on Friday, March 29 @ 9:45 on CBS

Watch for Ryan Kelly—all of the time. Duke has a slew of quality shooters that will be lining up behind the arc and even have some pretty good inside players, but Kelly is going to be the key all tournament long. Kelly has really struggled so far this tournament on offense and has not been overly aggressive on the glass. While that won’t really matter against a 16-seed, Duke won’t be able to get away with that kind of performance against Michigan State. The Spartans are going to need Derrick Nix to become some form of a man-beast underneath. Nix will have to do his usual routine of cleaning the glass, but also serve as a deterrent for the rare times the Blue Devils decide to attack the hoop. As with what has already been stated about Kelly, Nix needs to limit Duke’s second chance opportunities and let Kelly know if he is going to attack the basket, a price is going to be paid.  Prediction?  Where is a coin?  This one is a complete toss-up.

Bracket Reflection

My bracket went as well as anyone could hope–at least one right.  Last week’s sweet sixteen pick that I made included: Louisville (1), Saint Louis (4), Memphis (6), and Creighton (7).  Unfortunately, this was not meant to be, as Saint Louis fell to Oregon, Memphis fell to Michigan St., and Creighton fell to Duke.  Not quite as many upsets as I originally expected; but hey, picking all the top seeds is no fun at all.

South Region

Surprise

Walk-on Sherwood Brown and the all-time Cinderalla Florida Gulf Coast Eagles hope to beat crosstown rival Florida.
Walk-on Sherwood Brown and the all-time Cinderalla Florida Gulf Coast Eagles hope to beat crosstown rival Florida.

Florida Gulf Coast (15)

Some are blinded by their brackets to see the true beauty of basketball game and players.  Florida Gulf Coast is one of the main reasons people like March Madness; the unpredictability of teams and the Cinderella teams.  Lead by Sherwood Brown, Gulf Coast is giving the L.A. Clippers a run for their money because they have formed their own type of dunk city that has people jumping on their bandwagon.  Not only have the  Eagles beaten Georgetown (2) and San Diego State (7) so far this tournament, but completely dominated them in all parts of the game.  Next up for Gulf Coast is in-state rivals the Florida Gators (3).

Game Previews

Kansas (1) against Michigan (4) on Friday, March 29 at 7:37 p.m. on TBS

After the demolishing of VCU, Trey Burke and the Wolverines take on Kansas.
After the demolishing of VCU, Trey Burke and the Wolverines take on Kansas.

Kansas finally found their game with a dominate win over North Carolina (8) after a dismal win over Western Kentucky (16) where they did not hit a single three for the whole game.  Michigan on the other hand has rather easily beaten up their opponents who were thought to give them a challenge, or even knock them out of the tournament.  The game should see two teams who like to run up and down the court, and get quick scores.  But what makes Kansas a better opponent is the fact that they actually play defense.  Michigan’s Trey Burke should have his hands full with the Kansas guards who last year helped lead Kansas to the National Championship game.

Florida (3) against Florida Gulf Coast (15) on Friday, March 29 at 10:07 p.m. on TBS

Florida is one of the best teams in the tournament.  They have the ability to hit the three and play tremendous defense.  But stopping an oppponent that likes to run the full-length of the court and get quick dunks will be hard to do.  Florida should come out on top of this game, but if Gulf Coast gets out in the open court then anything can happen.

Bracket Reflection

Many teams and especially the lower-seeded teams never expect to be eliminated after the first weekend of play.  Georgetown fits exactly in to build as they lost to a more athletic and superior Florida Gulf Coast team.  Minnesota was able to beat up a far weaker UCLA team that lost its starting point guard just before the tournament began.  Everyone else in the bracket that was a lower seed did their job and was able to win the games they should have won.  Michigan as been really impressive so far with a blowout win over VCU who many people had beating them.  Even with that, Kansas still stays in prime position win this regional and get to the final four.

East Region

Biggest Surprise

Every top seed advanced

The biggest surprise from this region is not a 15 seed (Florida Gulf Coast) advancing, or a 13-9 match-up in the Sweet Sixteen (La Salle vs. Witchita St.); but rather the fact that all top four seeds reached the second week. Indiana, Syracuse, Marquette, and Miami (FL) have all survived the upset epidemic and are fortunate to play in the coveted round of 16. In the East Region, there were only two upsets in the round of 64–Temple over NC State and California over UNLV–neither of which was too surprising in my opinion. In the round of 32 there were a number of close calls, but all the higher seeds proved formidable in the final minutes.

Game Previews

Star big man Cody Zeller of Indiana hopes to advance to the Elite Eight.
Star big man Cody Zeller of Indiana hopes to advance to the Elite Eight.

(1) Indiana against (4) Syracuse, Thursday, March 28 @ 9:45 PM, CBS

The last time these two powerhouse programs played each other was the 1998-99 season; so these teams are not familiar with each other, marking for an exciting Sweet Sixteen match-up. In a 66-60 triumph over California, Syracuse’s C.J. Fair put up 18 points and six rebounds for the Orange; he leads the team with 14.4 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. For the Hoosiers, Victor Oladipo finished with 16 points and eight rebounds in the 58-52 win over Temple. He is averaging 13.6 points per game and leads the team in steals with 2.1 per game.

(2) Miami (FL) against (3) Marquette, Thursday, March 28 @ 7:15 PM, CBS

For any higher seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, the principal ideology is  to survive and advance; and that is just what Miami and Marquette did this weekend. Marquette, for instance, escaped from being upset in both the round of 64 and 32, winning by a combined score of three points. Miami, on the other hand, was tested by the Illini in their round of 32 match-up, but stellar play from Shane Larkin ensured the ‘Canes a place in the final 16. This should be an extremely close contest, but I believe the Hurricanes can shut down Marquette’s top-scorer Vander Blue and continue the state of Florida’s success.

Bracket Reflection

Compared to everyone else’s bracket, mine hasn’t been totally torn into shreds yet. My East Region is still very alive with three out of the four teams still alive: Indiana, Syracuse, and Miami (the Butler Bulldogs were the ones eliminated). I cannot say I am happy with my pick selections, but at least I am still in it.

West Region

Surprise

Garland's late layup put La Salle over Ole Miss, sending the Explorers to the Sweet Sixteen.
Garland’s late layup put La Salle over Ole Miss, sending the Explorers to the Sweet Sixteen.

(13) La Salle

In a region that has been defined by craziness in the Second and Third Rounds, La Salle is the biggest surprise of them all. Harvard’s Cinderella run was ended by a potent Arizona offense, Iowa State’s potential Cinderella run was thwarted by the clutch shooting of Aaron Craft, and Wichita State’s improbable defeat of Gonzaga was predictable. However, La Salle’s magical run to the Sweet Sixteen was not; the Explorers–who had not reached the NCAA Tournament in over 20 years–upset two hot teams in order to reach the Sweet Sixteen. As virtually the last team to get into the Tournament, La Salle beat Boise State in the play-in game, survived a furious comeback from a strong Kansas State team, and Ty Garland’s layup in the dying moments of the game upended a hot Ole Miss team and their crazy star, Marshall Henderson. The Explorers take on the ninth ranked Wichita State team and hope to use their speed and success from the 3 point arc that has brought them this far to defeat the Shockers.

Game Previews

(9) Wichita State against (13) La Salle on Thursday, March 28 @ 10:17 on TBS

The Shockers look to pull off another tournament win to keep up their 'shocking' tournament run.
The Shockers look to pull off another tournament win to keep up their ‘shocking’ tournament run.

The Shockers pulled off a ‘shocking’ upset of Gonzaga in the Third Round after easily handling Pitt in the Second Round. Although the win against Gonzaga was an upset in terms of seeding, Wichita State’s win was predictable: this team has six players that are 6’8″ or taller, and they shoot lights out from three. Gonzaga, on the other hand, barely topped the 16 seed Southern and came into the tournament with their last 19 opponents being weak, small teams out of the WAC conference. La Salle’s path has been well documented, as they have upended opponents by getting ahead of opponents in transition and knocking down late free throws. This game should be one of the most exciting games of the Sweet Sixteen, with fans divided between two Sweet Sixteen cinderellas, but expect Wichita State to come out with the win, out-rebounding La Salle and stopping their fast-break.

(6) Arizona against (2) Ohio State on Friday, March 28 @ 7:37 on TBS

This team features the tale of two unlikely paths: Arizona, a common team to be picked to be upset in the first round, destroyed the streaky shooting Belmont at their own game by knocking down threes and then handled the Cinderella story Harvard after their upset of New Mexico and Ohio State, who killed Iona and needed a Aaron Craft winner in the dying embers of the game to survive and advance past Iowa State. Arizona has not been tested so far, and Ohio State has been; therefore,  even though the West bracket has been anything but predictable, expect the strong defense of Aaron Craft and the dominant post play of Da’Shaun Thomas to upend Arizona in a game that should be closer than popular opinion.

Bracket Reflection

My bracket was about as close to perfect as you could get. And by that, I mean that it was nowhere close. All of my ambitious upset picks–Davidson over Marquette, South Dakota State over Michigan, Illinois over Miami, Pittsburgh over Gonzaga–were so close to giving me an edge over my competitors. Davidson lost by one point thanks to a late turnover, South Dakota State hung with Michigan but just could not knock down any shots, Illinois fell to the Shane Larkin clutch three, and Pittsburgh lost to Wichita State before they could even get to Gonzaga. No one predicts Florida Gulf Coast, La Salle, or Oregon, so losing those games does not hurt. But losing those heart breakers–St. Mary’s and Butler, too–killed my bracket.