How is your NCAA tournament bracket treating you? Are you in good shape heading into the Sweet Sixteen, or does it look like someone gutted a fish on it, from all the red ink?
Did you go with any of our March Madness bracket busters? We called it right with VCU upsetting Wichita State, and we struck gold again with Colorado upending UNLV. Predicting two out of five upsets correctly is pretty good, if we do say so ourselves.
So we’re down to the Sweet Sixteen, and since it’s too late to do anything about our bracket picks, let’s take a look, instead, at some interesting upcoming Sweet Sixteen matchups.
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 13 Ohio, March 23
On its face, this matchup looks like a blowout in the making. Don’t count the Bobcats out just yet, though. Tar Heels PG Kendall Marshall is out with a broken wrist, and had surgery Monday to insert a screw in it. UNC is already without Dexter Strickland, who was lost to a season-ending knee injury in January. The Sweet Sixteen is all about teams that get hot at the right time, and instead, North Carolina is falling apart.
Ohio, meanwhile, has won six games in a row and 10 of their last 11, taking out 13th-ranked and No. 4 seed Michigan in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Earlier this season, at Louisville, they only fell by five points. These Bobcats aren’t afraid of the big boys, especially when the big boy is missing two of its best players.
No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 2 Ohio State, March 22
In the battle of Ohio, Cincinnati looks primed to take out the Buckeyes. Throughout the season, the Bearcats have beaten Georgetown twice, Syracuse, Marquette, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, and Louisville. They also threw in a boxing match during a loss to Xavier. Ohio State won’t scare them.
The Buckeyes are nothing to sneeze at, however, having shared in the regular season Big Ten conference title, with the Big Ten being one of the toughest conferences in the nation. Jared Sullinger is an outstanding ballplayer, and if Cincinnati can’t find a way to contain him, OSU will be earning state Sweet Sixteen bragging rights.
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 1 Kentucky, March 23
Kentucky lost a grand total of one game during the regular season: to Indiana. Hoosier fans are still talking about Christian Watford’s buzzer-beater in that Dec. 10 game as if it happened yesterday. IU is flying high right now after years of disappointment following the departure of iconic head coach Bob Knight, with current head coach Tom Crean finally bringing the program back into college basketball relevance. If Indiana can beat Kentucky again—and in the Sweet Sixteen—there just might be a statue of Crean erected on campus by morning.
Don’t think Kentucky has forgotten about that game, though, and this time, it’s not being played in Bloomington, Ind. This time, it’s in Atlanta, so no home court advantage for the Hoosiers. Kentucky annihilated Western Kentucky and Iowa State in its first two tournament games, while Indiana had to struggle to get past VCU. On paper, Kentucky has the firepower to crush IU, but never overlook the emotion involved in a rivalry game.
This one should be a classic.