Thursday, March 22, 2012

STOB's Sweet 16 Preview and More

Predicting a possible repeat of 2008?

The Sweet 16 is almost here, and for me, it isn't so "sweet" this year as my Dukies aren't partaking in the festivities after crapping themselves against Lehigh.  At least I picked Xavier to make the Sweet 16, only I had them beating Duke instead of Lehigh to get there.  Today though, we aren't talking any more Duke, we are talking about the sixteen teams still playing, and I'll make some predictions on who I see moving on.  I will predict it all the way to the title game.  Why?  Because my friends, I will be gone for a week starting this Saturday and returning the following Saturday.  The reason for my departure will be revealed afterwards, likely with a post all about it.  So with that I will go out on a limb, pick the two teams I think will still be playing when I return to STOB on April 1st.

South Region -

Kentucky vs. Indiana

Indiana is 1-0 versus this Kentucky team, but it came at home at the buzzer.  I don't see the magic happening again Friday.  Kentucky is on a roll, and when they are on a roll they maybe unbeatable.  Iowa State learned what that was all about in the second half of their game in the round of 32.  Indiana, much like almost every other team in the NCAA, can't match up with the talent at all 5 positions and off the bench that Kentucky can put out there.  Kentucky wins, with the revenge factor in their head, by a significant margin.

Baylor vs. Xavier

In this match up I see it depending on whose studs win, will the Xavier guards win the game or will Baylor's long athletic inside guys take the game over.  Lyons/Holloway are a tough tandem to contain, in their last match up against a small Lehigh team they got a great contribution from big man Kenny Frease.  They will need Frease to step up big to handle Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller on the inside.  Brady Heslip shot Baylor past Colorado, and if he can give Baylor half of the production from that game in this one Baylor should win.  I think the overall athleticism of Baylor will pull them by Xavier, but I will not be shocked if Xavier takes them out.

Predicted Elite 8 Match Up -

Baylor vs Kentucky

Athleticism abound!  Freak length, NBA potential and more athleticism will be all over the court in this game.  Baylor's talent isn't as consistent as Kentucky's though.  If Baylor can play their best they may have a chance, but I can't trust them to show up, so I will go with Kentucky making the Final Four.

Predicted South Region Winner - Kentucky

West Region -

Michigan State vs. Louisville 

Michigan State is peaking at the right time, per usual under Izzo.  They have so much size and a great leader on the court in Draymond Green.  I think Green's leadership will carry the Spartans over the Cardinals.  Louisville is peaking as well but I just don't think they'll have enough fire power to get by the Spartans lock down defense and size on the inside.

Marquette vs. Florida

Joe Crowder is a stud.  He works harder than anyone else and is possibly the most versatile player in the tournament.  I like Florida's team, but they aren't a team that will likely try to take advantage of a size advantage on Marquette and will do what they've done all year, chuck up threes.  They set records for Florida in threes made and attempted this season.  If Florida is on fire, they can obviously win this one, but I have to think Marquette will be able to run by the Gators.

Predicted Elite 8 Match up -

Marquette vs. Michigan State

Size vs. speed.  Usually size wins, but I have a gut feeling about Marquette.  I just think they have it going right now, even with the underage drinking of six players last week.  Those players will be eligible and in comparison to what Syracuse is putting up with as far as distractions, this one is pretty minimal.  State will struggle with Marquette's pressure defense and the Eagles will move on to the Final Four. Which goes against my pre-tournament prediction of Michigan State overpowering either Marquette or Missouri in a possible match up.

Predicted West Region Winner - Marquette

East Region -

Wisconsin vs. Syracuse

Wisconsin got by a skilled Vanderbilt team last weekend, to my surprise actually.  I don't think they will get by an even more skilled team in Syracuse.  Cuse seems like they are handling the loss of Fab Melo pretty well, and his presence won't be missed too much against the Badgers, the next B1G foe they could face might be a different story though.  Cuse cruises to Elite 8.

Ohio State vs. Cincinnati

Ohio State overall has the talent advantage over the Bearcats, but the Bearcats could definitely come out on top in this one.  The match up of the game, and the possibly deciding factor in the end, will be Jared Sullinger vs. Yancey Gates.  Whichever big man comes out on top or stays out of foul trouble and on the court more, may lead their team to the victory.  Ohio State I think will struggle with Cincy's harassing defense on the perimeter and this one will stay close.  Hard to pick against OSU but I will do it anyways, Cincy keeps rolling to the Elite 8.

Predicted Elite 8 Match up -

Syracuse vs. Cincinnati

Big East represents in the East region...fitting I suppose.  The season series between the two is 1-1.  Cincy beat Cuse in the Big East conference tourney just a couple weeks ago.  Minus Melo, Cuse will have a fight on their hands.  I am surprised I picked the Bearcats over OSU and I am surprised I will pick them again over Cuse and making the Final Four.

Predicted East Region Winner - Cincinnati

Midwest Region -

North Carolina vs. Ohio

Great work getting here Ohio!  North Carolina and it's fleet of lottery picks isn't impressed though.  UNC blows out Ohio with or without the broken wrist of Kendall Marshall.

Kansas vs. NC State

Possibly the hottest team in the country right now, not named Kentucky, is NC State.  Already I am hearing people saying they are the team to beat in the ACC NEXT year.  Settle down everybody, settle down.  Right now NC State needs to focus on stopping a supremely motivated Thomas Robinson and the Jayhawks.  State will give them a game, but in the end the more talented and experienced team will come out on top in Kansas. I will be keeping a close eye on NC State's roster though heading into next year.

Predicted Elite 8 Match up -

North Carolina vs Kansas

Tons of history here.  Now, unlike against Ohio, North Carolina will need a pretty darn close to healthy Kendall Marshall to get by Kansas.  Thomas Robinson needs to do his best to get the UNC big's in foul trouble and then dominate.  If Marshall is healthy, UNC gets the edge.  I just have a hard time believing that Marshall will be healthy enough a week after breaking his wrist to get UNC over the top.  I have Kansas moving on.

Predicted Midwest Region Winner - Kansas

Final Four Predictions -

Marquette vs Kentucky -

Marquette, it was a nice run.  Kentucky just has too much fire power to pick against them.  Marquette is scrappy as hell and will give them a run for their money, but if Kentucky turns it on, it's over.  Freakin Calipari, my least favorite person in all of college basketball is headed to the finals.

Kansas vs. Cincinnati -

Yet again a great match up inside for Gates.  He gets the Thomas Robinson responsibility this time.  It won't be an easy match up, and this time I think he loses it.  Kansas will be ready and will handle the pressure Cincy throws their way.  Setting up a rematch of Kansas vs. Calipari 2008 when Calipari's Memphis team made a, now vacated (lol...what a fraud), run to the finals and lost to Mario Chalmers and the Jayhawks.  Bill Self solidifies himself even more as an elite coach in college basketball.

Predicted Finals - Kansas vs Kentucky

I will be back for the finals, so I won't make a pick here yet and will preview the finals upon my return.  If I had to pick this game, I'd pick Kansas just to keep Calipari title free and save the NCAA from having to have a championship vacated after it's found someone on this Kentucky team took illegal benefits or some crap.

Enjoy the next couple weekends of ball and we'll talk to you in April!  Go anybody but Kentucky!

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