This year’s NCAA Tournament has consisted of some memorable upsets and crazy endings. All of the pandemonium has lead to another Sweet 16 where three No. 1 seeds remain and 13 other teams chase for that elusive dream of a national championship. Here is a breakdown of the Sweet 16 matchups:
(3) Uconn vs. (2) San Diego State
Thursday’s first game of the Sweet 16 round is one of the best matchups in the tournament so far with No. 3 Connecticut versus No. 2 San Diego State. A potential NCAA Player of the Year, Kemba Walker, has been exceptional throughout the tournament and has been leading the Huskies in scoring. San Diego State has an exceptional player in Kawhi Leonard, who Mountain West Conference diehards should be familiar with. Leonard’s versatility and size on the post has been raising NBA scouts’ eyebrows. This should be a very close game, which will go down to the wire, but this is San Diego State’s year to shine in the tournament, and Leonard should lead the Aztecs to a well deserved Elite 8 berth. My pick: SDSU.
(3) BYU vs. (2) Florida
In a rematch of last year’s double overtime thriller, No. 3 BYU takes on No. 2 Florida. Florida head coach Billy Donovan knows everything about winning in the tournament from his past years, and he has once again produced another strong Gator team. Rising stars Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus have led this team to a hard fought SEC regular season title.
One name should come to mind when BYU is the topic: Jimmer Fredette. This guy can score from anywhere on the court. As long as Fredette is healthy, BYU should be able to hold off the pesky offense of Florida and have a pretty good shot at the Final Four. My pick: BYU.
(5) Arizona vs. (1) Duke
Two teams used to deep runs in the Big Dance, No. 1 Duke and No. 5 Arizona, battle once again. Since Arizona is known for producing some of the best NBA players from past years, why not add Derrick Williams as a top-five NBA Draft pick?
The Wildcats have won two close games and contributed to the destruction of many 2011 tourney brackets. But there is one problem; they have to get past the defending champion Blue Devils. With the activation of Kyrie Irving, one of nation’s best point guards, Duke will be too much to handle. ACC Player of the Year Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Irving seem to be a formula for a Duke championship repeat. My pick: Duke.
(8) Butler vs. (4) Wisconsin
One team that has surprised everyone, yet somehow to no one’s surprise, has to be No. 8 Butler. After having an average season, the Bulldogs have found themselves in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. Butler won at the buzzer versus Old Dominion in the first round and knocked off No. 1 Pittsburgh in one of the craziest endings of the tournament. Butler will face No. 4 Wisconsin and the Badgers’ Jordan Taylor, who has been nothing but a stud. Wisconsin is accustomed to winning and was one of the few teams to beat heavily favored No. 1 overall seeded Ohio State. Butler’s Matt Howard and outstanding point guard Shelvin Mack are going to carry the upset trend. My pick: Butle.r
(4) Kentucky vs. (1) Ohio State
No. 1 Ohio State will face No. 4 Kentucky Friday. This is the battle of the freshmen phenoms with Brandon Knight from Kentucky and NCAA Player of the Year contender Jared Sullinger of Ohio State. The Buckeyes have blown away both teams they faced, while Kentucky needed a game-winning shot from Knight against No. 13 Princeton in the opening round. OSU’s trio of Jared Sullinger, William Buford and three-point assassin Jon Diebler will be too much for an inexperienced Kentucky team. My pick: Ohio State.
(11) Marquette vs. (2) North Carolina
No. 11 Marquette will face No. 2 North Carolina. Harrison Barnes has been the solid point producer for the Tar Heels and they needed all of Barnes’ 22 points as well as Tyler Zeller’s 23 to knock off a pesky Washington squad. Golden Eagles’ junior Darius Johnson-Odom has lead his team to upset a fellow Big East foe No. 3 Syracuse and also took down No. 6 Xavier. Marquette’s pipe dream will come to an end because there is too much star power on UNC. My pick: North Carolina.
(11) VCU vs. (10 )Florida State
Who thought a No. 11 seed would be playing a No. 10 seed in the Sweet 16? No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth will play No. 10 Florida State. Both teams have provided unseen upsets so far with VCU beating both No. 6 Georgetown and No. 3 Purdue. The Seminoles beat No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 2 Notre Dame. VCU will continue to be this years Cinderella, behind a hungry head coach in Shaka Smart. My Pick: VCU.
(12) Richmond vs. (1) Kansas
It’s too bad No. 12 Richmond has to face No. 1 Kansas in the Sweet 16 because Richmond has had a sensational tournament. Richmond’s Kevin Anderson is one of the most underrated players in the nation and he is going to have to steal the national spotlight to upend the Jayhawks. The problem is, Kansas has produced the best inside game in the country with brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris. Kansas coach Bill Self is no stranger to upsets, but lucky for Self, the Morris twins and the surrounding players should be able to “Rock Chalk” their way to the Elite 8 and further. My pick: Kansas
Mike Zeko is a freshman journalism major from Darien, Conn.