Sweet 16 Predictions: Early Games Writeup, Late Game Predictions
3 Connecticut vs 2 San Diego State:
While I think a lot of people are probably expecting the Huskies to win this game, I think UConn fans will end up being disappointed. Yes the Huskies are from the Big East and have the ‘pedigree’ so to speak, but the Big East hasn’t exactly ‘wowed’ the tournament this year. So while the Aztecs aren’t from a major conference, neither are BYU, Butler, VCU, and Richmond, yet they are in the Sweet 16.
Although I love Connecticut guard Kemba Walker and what he can do with the basketball, the Aztecs have shown that they can slow down an elite PG when they beat Jimmer Fredette earlier in the season. I think San Diego State matches up really well against the Huskies as they have the speed and athletic ability to run with Uconn. I like the Aztecs balanced roster with good size and length. They are also a very veteran team, which I think really could begin to matter.
Connecticut isn’t without their own merits and they have four quality regulars, including their star Walker. My issue with the Huskies is the fact that outside of Walker and Alex Oriakhi they rely quite a bit on freshmen in their rotation. While they are talented first year players, they probably aren’t conditioned to handle the rigors of this tournament, particularly after the 5 games in 5 days during the Big East Tournament. These kids have to be wearing down and this could be the game it happens.
I think it will be a close game, but that San Diego State wins it in the end.
3 BYU vs 2 Florida-
Could this be where the underdog story ends? Don’t count on it. While BYU isn’t much of an underdog as a 3 seed and a ranked team all season, they don’t get much credit due to their easier Mountain West Conference schedule. Despite not playing in a major conference the Cougars have shown that they belong this season with a 30-4 record. They will face a tough opponent in the Gators, but one that has proven to be quite streaky.
Florida has a deep roster filled with 4 and 5 star talent, and while the majority of the time they play accordingly they never seem to come together to the point of being dominate. Florida is a deep team so they will have that going for them, as well as a noticeable size advantage. For the Gators to win they will need their trio of Walker, Boynton, and Parsons to step up and have a big night. One player alone won’t be able to answer BYU’s Fredette, but if the 3 of them have big games they should have the fire power to overcome BYU.
For BYU it is the Jimmer show or bust. Yes they will need the rest of their players to make the most of their opportunities and chip in points, but the Cougars simply can’t win without Fredette having a strong game. Now his game isn’t solely predicated on scoring, as Fredette is apt at knowing when to pass it out to the open man (usually because the defense is crashing down on him). If Fredette plays his game and gets his shots, then I think BYU has a very good chance at knocking off the 2 seed.
I think it will be another close game, but I think Fredette and BYU will win.
5 Arizona vs 1 Duke
I like Duke in this matchup, too much experience for Arizona to handle
8 Butler vs. 4 Wisconsin
I think Butler will keep finding a way to win in this game