Eight of nine ACC teams are out, defending champs are gone, and we have three SEC teams remaining. That, my friends is why the first four days of the NCAA Tournament are the most unpredictable sports days all year long. Now, we are on to the Sweet 16. Here are my insights are predictions on each game in the East and West regions, Part 2 has the Midwest and South region.
Wisconsin vs Florida
Wisconsin: Contain dribble penetration and don’t let Florida get running in transition. Also, get Ethan Happ more involved offensively (only eight shot attempts against Villanova).
Florida: Don’t let Wisconsin dictate tempo, and can not let Wisconsin “bully” them on the boards. Kevaughn Allen needs to find his stroke again, 11 points through the first two games. Prediction: Wisconsin’s experience I think wins out, Badgers 64-59
Baylor vs South Carolina
Baylor: Contain Sindarius Thornwell (he might be the MOP of the tournament so far), continue to punish their opponents on the “glass”. The Bears have out-rebounded their opponents 73-50 in their first two games.
South Carolina: Must shoot the ball well against the 1-1-3 zone (I feel that they must attack, while not getting too anxious). Get Jonathan Motley in foul trouble, Baylor struggles offensively when he is not on the floor. Protect the defensive boards, don’t let Baylor get second chances. Prediction: The Gamecocks run will end, but not without a fight, Baylor 69-66
Gonzaga vs West Virginia
Gonzaga: Protect the ball. Break the press to score. Make West Virginia execute in the half-court (WVU has the tendency to not shoot the ball straight at times) and take tough shots.
West Virginia: Turn Gonzaga over and try to get as many easy opportunities as possible, Gonzaga’s half-court defense is solid. Prevent Gonzaga from getting the ball inside, whether in post-ups or through penetration. Prediction: I like Gonzaga, but in a close game 68-64.
Xavier vs Arizona
Xavier: Contain Lauri Markannen and Allonzo Trier. Trevon Bluett has to continue to make shots. Make it a “knock-out, drag-out” game, slow the game down.
Arizona: Get off to a great start, don’t allow Xavier to hang in the game. Be ready to execute against zone defense (Xavier played zone in their first two games). Get out in transition. Prediction: Arizona has too much talent, they win 79-65