The Rebellion’s Guide to the NCAA Tournament: Sweet Sixteen and Beyond

The+Rebellions+Guide+to+the+NCAA+Tournament%3A+Sweet+Sixteen+and+Beyond

Matt Brownsword

The rebellion tourny challenge

 

South Region

Florida v. UCLA on Thursday, March 27

The top part of the South Region has gone chalk: The top seeds advanced to the Sweet Sixteen game and will play each other for one of the spots in the Elite Eight. The Gators were led by senior Scottie Wilbiken, who single handedly halted any hopes Pittsburgh had for a third round upset. The Bruins have had an easier road thus far, beating down on Tulsa and eliminating possible Cinderella Stephen F. Austin after their upset against VCU. Expect a physical game — Florida will dominate on the defensive end of the ball, while UCLA’s high powered offense should turn into their best defense — that will see Florida marching on to the elite eight.

Dayton v. Stanford on Thursday, March 27

Unlike the top part of the South Region, the bottom half has been anything but predictable: after Dayton’s last minute win against Ohio State, they toppled the 3 seed Syracuse late to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Likewise, Stanford outlasted a New Mexico team that could not make a shot in the second half and then shut down Andrew Wiggins and Kansas on their journey to the Sweet Sixteen. Stanford has played maybe the smartest basketball in the tournament, using careful substitutions and timely defensive changes to confuse opponents, while Dayton has been the late game Cinderella — winning both of their games in the final minute. Expect a close, cautious game that results in a Cardinal win on the shoulders of their two big men, Powell and Nastic.

Winner: Stanford

Florida’s unconvincing play against the big men of Pittsburgh showed some weaknesses across the Gators’ front line. Wilbiken’s talent was enough to carry them past Pittsburgh and probably past the athletic UCLA, but the size and intelligence of Stanford should be enough for the Cardinal to stage their third upset in the tournament.

West Region

6 Baylor vs. 2 Wisconsin

This game is completely up for grabs.  Baylor is playing their best basketball of the season, coming into the tournament as the hottest team, including a blowout 30 point win over 3 seed Creighton in the round of 32.  Wisconsin went a different route in their path to the Sweet 16 by barely avoiding the upset of 7 seed Oregon.  Baylor is looking to stage another upset by relying on their explosive offense that hit 11 three pointers against Creighton.  They also spread the ball around well; they have four players averaging double figures.  However, Wisconsin counters this with an explosive offense of their own.  Just like Baylor, Wisconsin spreads the ball with four figures in double figures.  This game will be a shootout and whichever team forces some misses and dominates the boards will win this game.

1 Arizona vs. 4 San Diego St.

Featuring two teams that have already met earlier this season which resulted in a 9 point Arizona win, this game is going to be a defensive battle.  Arizona has yet to sweat this tournament thanks to great play by forward Aaron Gordon.  Arizona looks to use their stifling defense against an Aztecs team that struggles to score at times.  Just like Arizona, San Diego State will rely on their stifling defense to stage an upset.  The Aztecs will hope their defense can generate good offense as they have struggled to score points at times this team.  Look for this game to be one of the lowest scoring games of the tournament and whoever manages to break through these stifling defenses will be moving onto the next round.

Winners (Bold is Final 4 pick):

Arizona

Wisconsin

 

East Region

No. 3 Iowa State (28-7) vs. No. 7 Connecticut (28-8), 7:27 p.m., TBS

With the loss of Georges Niang, who broke his foot against North Carolina Central, many people believed that Iowa was done in the tournament. But last week DeAndre Kane carried his team without Niang, dropping 29 points and leading the Cyclones in scoring, assists and rebounding.  Shabazz Napier and Huskies clearly have the home court advantage in this game, but it isn’t likely to be enough for them to overcome a far superior opponent.

No. 4 Michigan State (28-8) vs. No. 1 Virginia (30-6), 9:57 p.m., TBA

At the beginning of the tournament almost everyone picked Michigan St. to upset the thought-to-be overrated Virginia.  Virginia however has proven that they deserve the number 1 seed and a Michigan victory is looking like less of a sure thing.  If Virginia can continue to shut down other teams like they have all year, they could beat the popular dark horse.

Winners (Bold is final four pick)

Iowa State

Michigan State

Midwest Region

Game to Watch:

Kentucky (8) v Louisville (4) on March 28, @ 9:45 PM on CBS- A battle of two teams from Kentucky; both have historic histories and have won the last two National championships.  Expect a fast paced and defensive minded game where Louisville comes out on top.

 Regional Winner:

Michigan (2)- Led by Nik Stauskas, the Wolverines will be the unlikely winner of the midwest region.  Just like last year Michigan will defeat some superior teams and looks to make a run at the National Championship.

 Player to Watch:

Nik Stauskas- Nik Stauskas can shoot with the best of them, but not just as a spot-up shooter in the corners.  The Michigan product is lightning-quick off the dribble. He has the skills with the ball in his hands to fake a drive to the basket and then pull up and hit right over the defender. Lethal from the perimeter,Stauskas has the talent to led the Wolverines all the way to the national championship game.