The first weekend of March Madness is in the books and the Sweet 16 is set to begin. A conference matchup between ACC foes in Duke and Virginia Tech on Friday, as well as a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 between Gonzaga and Florida State on Thursday highlight the action. Here’s a preview of Thursday’s Sweet 16 games:
Florida State vs Gonzaga
The Seminoles take on top-seeded Gonzaga in a West Region Semifinal in Anaheim. As previously mentioned, eighth-seeded Florida State upset the fourth-seeded Bulldogs in the Sweet 16 a year ago. But that was without Killian Tillie, who is back this year and playing well for Mark Few. Rui Hachimura and Terance Mann are two key guys that are both capable of taking over this game. The Zags have made five consecutive Sweet 16 appearances. The Seminoles haven’t been to the Final Four since 1972, however, the Seminoles’ size will be too much for Gonzaga.
Prediction: Florida State – 68, Gonzaga – 65
Purdue vs Tennessee
In the South Region Semifinal, it’s Purdue taking on the Tennessee Volunteers in Louisville, KY. The Boilermakers took down Old Dominion and Villanova to reach the round of 16. The Vols beat Colgate and Iowa, surviving what would have been a historic collapse by nearly blowing a 25-point lead. It’ll be interesting to watch the matchup between bigs Matt Haarms and Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. Tennessee looks hungry to make a deep tournament run after last year’s early exit.
Prediction: Tennessee – 76, Purdue – 69
Texas Tech vs Michigan
In the other West Region Semifinal, the Red Raiders battle the Michigan Wolverines. Texas Tech blew out Northern Kentucky and Buffalo, while Michigan routed Montana and Florida. This matchup will be a battle of two great defensive teams, as they rank second and third in scoring defense respectively. Jarret Culver will look to continue to score at a high level for the Red Raiders. Michigan has several guys in Ignas Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole who can score at any time.
Prediction: Michigan – 62, Texas Tech – 58
Oregon vs Virginia
The only double-digit seed left in the tournament, the Oregon Ducks, look to upset top-seeded Virginia. The Ducks took down Wisconsin and UC Irvine, while the Cavaliers got by Gardner-Webb and Oklahoma. Virginia looks like a team finally shaking off those NCAA Tournament nerves, and are two wins away from their first Final Four since 1984. Oregon has won 10 in a row, but Virginia’s defense travels, and they have veterans in Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy.
Prediction: Virginia – 65, Oregon – 57