Let’s not over-complicate this introduction. The Sweet 16 is about to get underway. Here are five things that I predict will happen in those eight hopefully great games: These Sweet 16 predictions can help with college basketball betting for this week’s games.
Draymond Green will continue to be a monster
Green has been the best player in the tournament so far. I’ve watched a lot of him over the years, and as a Michigan fan I’m just glad that he’s finally graduating so we don’t have to deal with him anymore at Michigan State.
Like a great senior should, Green has lifted this team onto his shoulders and is clearly determined that his career at Michigan State won’t end with a loss. I don’t think he’ll achieve that, but I do expect him to get a win in his next game. Louisville is a very tough opponent that is playing at top form right now. Green will be the best player on the court, though, and he has the capability to be the singular difference in this game.
This should be the best game of the Sweet 16, and Green will make the highlight reel more than once.
It will be a great start to the weekend for the Big Ten
It’s not going to be perfect, but three out of four teams that have made it this far will advance to the Elite Eight.
The only exception will be Indiana. The Hoosiers have some talent, but they are a step behind the elite, and they have the misfortune of playing by far the best team in the country in Kentucky. It’s not going to be pretty for Indiana fans.
Beyond that, though, it will be a good Big Ten experience.
Michigan State will, as I said, handle Louisville in a great game. Ohio State should have a reasonably easy time in their battle for Ohio as Cincinnati isn’t going to have an answer for Jared Sullinger. Syracuse has exceeded my expectations without Fab Melo so far, but Wisconsin is a tough team, and I think they can wear the Orange down. That would set up a Wisconsin — Ohio State Elite Eight game that would be extremely interesting.
Xavier isn’t done yet
Xavier deserves even more credit than they are getting after earning their fourth Sweet 16 appearance in five years. That’s incredible for any school, never mind one like Xavier. It’s especially impressive this year given that their brawl with Cincinnati disrupted their season, and that they covered just one of their last nine games heading into the tournament.
I don’t think they are going to be done here, either — they are headed for their third Elite Eight appearance since 2004. Thad Matta and Sean Miller rode their Elite Eight appearances with Xavier into the big leagues. If Chris Mack can pull it off this year then he should certainly have that opportunity as well.
Baylor is a significantly more talented team. They play like five guys playing one-on-one too much of the time, though. Against an intensely unified team like Xavier that’s going to be a problem.
No Jimmy V. redux
I was just seven years old during the 1983 NCAA Tournament, so none of my knowledge of Jim Valvano’s incredible championship run is first hand. As a college basketball lover I’d like to witness a Wolfpack run of my own, and they are off to a pretty good start.
Sadly, though, it’s not going to last.
Their win against Georgetown was nice, but Kansas is dramatically better and presents some real matchup issues.
Mark Gottfried is doing a heck of a job coaching this team right now, but he’s only in his first year, and he has some depth issues. That’s going to come back to haunt him, and Kansas will exploit some major matchup issues to come out solidly on top.
Ohio will cover, but not win
Normally I think that the impact of injuries to players is almost always overstated. The loss of point guard Kendall Marshall, though, is every bit as bad as it seems. Maybe worse.
Do you know how many games this year Marshall didn’t lead the team in assists? None. He is the engine that makes this team work, and he is the key to making sure that the offensive talent gets the balls they need.
His loss would be bad at the best of times, but the other experienced point guard on the team, Dexter Strickland, was lost for the year in January. That leaves them with either a freshman or a utility player to run a complicated offense. Not good.
On top of that, they face a very good guard who is playing great in D.J. Cooper. I think the Tar Heels will still be fine because of their immense talent and because Harrison Barnes will be a nightmare for the Bobcats. It’s not going to be easy, though, and Ohio has a very good chance of covering the biggest spread any team faces in the Sweet 16.
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