At The Bottom Of The Post There Are Links To The Three Other Brackets
With the way the 1st and 2nd rounds went, reading up on the sweet 16 round is a must if you want to cash in.
Who you got?
The Syracuse Orangemen came into the Tournament as the 3rd ranked team in the nation behind Kansas and Kentucky, while ahead of Duke. When forward Arinze Onuaku (who averages 10.5 points per game and 5.1 rebounds) was injured prior to the the tournament, many wondered if Syracuse could still be considered a number #1 seed without one of their key contributors. The Orangemen have the best record in the Big East Conference, which is packed with #5 West Virginia, #9 Villanova, #15 Georgetown and #16 Pittsburgh. Hell, they even have non-ranked Marquette, Louisville and Notre Dame who are all in the tournament. The Big East is without a doubt the best conference in NCAA basketball with eight teams who made it into through Selection Sunday. Unfortunately for Syracuse, they made an early exit out of the Big East Tournament with a loss to Georgetown (following a loss to Louisville to finish off the regular season). Come March Madness though, Syracuse clearly hasn’t missed Onuaku, or at least it has looked that way with a round one beat-down of Vermont 79-56. Five Orangemen put up double-digits on the scoreboard, while a sixth Orangemen added eight. Wes Johson lead the way with 18 points and 3 steals as three other Syracuse starters records eight rebounds. Moving onto the second round against the 9th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs, both teams started hot but it was the defence of Syracuse that stepped up as their offence continued to shine. Holding the Bulldogs to only 32 points in the first half, gave them a 15-point lead after 20 minutes and Syracuse never looked back. If Onuaku comes back and can play, the Orangemen will be even better but if guard’s Andy Rautins and Scoop Jardine continue their stellar play and forwards Wes Johnson, Kris Johnson and Rick Jackson muscle their way around in the paint… this Syracuse team is going to be mighty hard to stop.
One of the best players in the nation is Gordon Hayward, who averages 15.3 points per game and grew up as a guard-forward but before a massive growth spurt, he played solely guard. Something that allow him to have efficient ball control while mismatching against opponents. If it weren’t for a solid team that surrounds him he would put up plenty more on that stats sheet. The Butler Bulldogs, have three other players who are nothing to slouch about in Guard Shelvin Mack (14.2), and forwards Matt Howard (12.2) and Wellie Veasley (10.3). In the first round, many predicted that UTEP would give Butler a run for their money but the Bulldogs would have none-of-it as they beat the Minors easily 77-59, with Shelvin Mack putting up an impressive 25 points (Hayward and Howard added 13 and 11). In round 2, Butler squeaked by one of President Obama’s underdog teams, the Murray State Racers 54-52. Gordon Hayward again wasn’t the leading scoring, but had a clutch game winning steal as the clock ran our which sealed Racers fate for good. Mack and Howard put up 11 and 10 but surprisingly it was guard Ronald Nored who stepped up his game and lead the team with 15 points. Butler hails from the Horizon Conference and quite frankly has no competition as they went 18-0 this year in conference and 30-4 on the season. Their four losses came against Minnesota, Clemson, Georgetown and Alabama-Birmingham but their last loss (against UAB) came December 22, 2009 and as a team the Bulldogs have won 22 straight games… not something any team wants to go up against.
The recent injury of Arinze Onuaku left many people wondering how the Orangemen would fair as a #1 seed but the way that they are playing, you have nothing to worry about as they could be cutting down the nets in Indianapolis come April 5th.
TheCoach’s Pick: Syracuse Orangemen
Who you got?
The Xavier Musketeers shouldn’t have shocked anyone by getting to the sweet sixteen round. Yeah, they come from a week A-10 Conference (Atlantic 10) and their biggest rivals who are in the tournament are #13 Temple and unranked Richmond. The Musketeers has a record of 25-8 and one of those eight losses came against the Kansas State Wildcats in a 71-56 thrashing on December 8th. They have also lost to Wake Forest, Marquette, Baylor, Butler and Temple. All high ranked teams. The Wildcats by all means should win this game but Jordan Crawford will have something to say about that. Crawford averages 20 points per game and has teammates Jason Love and Terrell Holloway to back him up (each of them average 11.7 points per game while Love brings is 8.5 rebounds). In the first round of the tournament Xavier faced off against Minnesota and won 65-54 is an easy victory. It was ALL Jordan Crawford as he put in 28 points and another Musketeer Jamel McLean brought in 14 rebounds. Impressive! Moving back to Crawford, he is a very, very skilled player. In round two, Crawford notched 27 points in the 71-68 victory. Jason Love had a strong presence in the paint adding fourteen points. One thing about the Musketeers is clear, and it’s if they control the ball, and play good defence, they can play with any team in the entire nation point-for-point. Even if they aren’t on their game, if the other team isn’t either, as long as Crawford is playing to his potential… he can single handily win a game.
The Kansas State Wildcats (28-7) are the 7th ranked team in the nation and come from the Big 12 Conference which has rivals Kansas, Baylor and Texas A&M who are ranked 1st, 21st and 23rd in the nation. Throughout the entire season, Kansas State has proved they are a powerhouse team that can beat anyone (three of their seven losses did come against Kansas but they’ve made an stunning early exit via Northern Iowa. The Wildcats are lead by their duo of guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente, who on the season combined for 35 points and almost 8 assists per game. Kansas State also has two forwards, Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly who together averaged 22.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game… the only way to put it, is that the Wildcats have four players who night-in-night-out bring their team quality basketball. By the way, Jamar Samuels comes off the bench to replace Dominique Sutton, tell me that isn’t crazy. In they first round, they cleaned the court of North Texas winning 82-62 in a blow-out, followed by a convincing 84-72 win over Brigham-Young. In the game against North Texas, the Wildcats did a fabulous job of spreading around the rock as four players (Kelly, Clemente, Pullen and Sutton) combined for 59 points of their 82 points. In the 2nd game, it was Jacob Pullen who left everyone behind him as he put up a whooping 34 points going 11-for-11 from the free-throw line (their starters we 21-for 21 in the game). Denis Clemente added 19 points and that was all the BYU Cougars could handle as Kansas State seemingly has coasted through the first two rounds. They’ll have a little bit of stiffer competition when they face the Musketeers.
This is honestly my favourite match-up of the entire sweet sixteen round. It could go either way but I’ll ride with Kansas State now that they know they can beat any team with arch-rival Kansas gone from the tourney.
TheCoach’s Pick: Kansas State Wildcats
Also, Make Sure To Take A Look At The Other Brackets
Filed Under: Sports
About the Author: TheCoach knows his stuff. Now you can either utilize the knowledge, or regret that you didn't.