Sweet 16 Has Plenty of Intrigue This Year
The Big Dance is down to the Sweet 16 with plenty of surprises shaping the remaining field for the NCAA championship.
In the Midwest Regional, No. 1 Kentucky faces No. 5 West Virginia. The Mountaineers overwhelm opponents with their up-tempo play but increasing the intensity plays into the Wildcats’ style, which feeds off transition buckets.
In the bottom of that bracket No. 3 Notre Dame clashes with No. 7 Wichita State. The Irish have now won seven straight going back to the regular season and hope to catch the Shockers in a letdown spot after their victory over No. 2 seed Kansas.
The top two seeds in the West Region remain, with No. 1 Wisconsin taking on No. 4 North Carolina. The Tar Heels present a challenge to Badgers’ big man Frank Kaminsky, with a towering frontcourt and relentless rebounders.
No. 2 Arizona faces No. 6 Xavier in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats have yet to be tested in the tournament and a big spread in this game indicates what should be another easy win for the Wildcats, who are 7-2 ATS in their last nine.
East Region Sweet 16 is Stacked
The East Regional has more than a few unlikely teams vying for a spot in the Elite Eight, with No. 3 Oklahoma meeting No. 6 Michigan State and tournament-savvy head coach Tom Izzo. This is a showdown between the Sooners’ high-scoring offense and the Spartans’ lock-down defense.
Also in the East is a pairing of No. 4 Louisville versus No. 8 North Carolina State. These ACC rivals faced each other in February, with the Wolfpack taking a 74-65 win on the road. The Cardinals shot just 33 percent from the field in that game.
Out in the South Regional, No. 1 Duke encounters No. 5 Utah. The Utes have been lethal from 3-point range and present a challenge inside for Blue Devils star freshman Jahlil Okafor in the form of 7-footer Jakob Poeltl.
At the bottom of this bracket, No. 2 Gonzaga faces No. 11 UCLA. The Bruins have proved doubters wrong but run into a well-rounded Bulldogs team that defeated UCLA 87-74 as 5.5-point favorites at Pauley Pavilion in December.
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