The South is the only region that has held to form as the 1,2,3 and 4 seeds in the region all advanced to the round of 16.
UNC vs. Butler
UNC overcame a poor shooting night to withstand a tough Arkansas team to pull out a tough win in the round of 32. They dominated the last 3 minutes after struggling for most of the game. UNC is one of the few teams in the country that plays the majority of the game with a traditional center and power forward as opposed to the “small ball” lineups that have become so common. That size will help them withstand poor shooting nights like last game and will carry them to victory over Butler. The Bulldogs have young talented guards and they showed their abilities in the first two rounds. Freshman Kamar Baldwin will be a tough cover for the UNC defense. The bottom line is UNC will be too big on the interior for Butler to overcome
Kentucky vs. UCLA
These two teams played earlier in the season in a 97-92 UCLA victory and its safe to expect a better defensive effort from both teams. Kentucky needed two big blocks in the final seconds to escape with a win in the round of 32 over Wichita State. UCLA plays a frantic style similar to that of the Golden State Warriors. Star guard Lonzo Ball was spectacular in the round of 32 and is a unique talent. He leads a loose/up-tempo group that should provide the best game of the tournament.
Florida vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin had no business being seeded as high as 8th and it showed when the upset the defending National Champion and #1 seed Villanova in the round of 32. Florida dismantled an offensively challenged Virginia team en route to a blow out win to advance. Nigel Hayes and Nate Koenig have been spectacular and provide the type of leadership that Florida may lack. The Gators will need to rely on Devin Robinson on the interior and their ability to consistently change defenses.
Baylor vs. South Carolina
South Carolina pulled off a huge upset advancing to the sweet 16 with a victory over Duke in the round of 32. Baylor continued to roll with an easy 91-73 win over New Mexico State to set up this matchup. Baylor is a monster on the boards and that will likely keep any game they play in close. Johnathan Motley had 6 offensive rebounds alone in their round of 32 win. South Carolina needs to win the game on the defensive end as they have relied on a tough defense all season long and will need it against a prolific Baylor offense.
Gonzaga vs. West Virginia
Gonzaga has been spectacular all season long but needed a few breaks to escape with a 79-73 win over Northwestern in the round of 32. Meanwhile West Virginia continued to press and steamroll competition while beating Notre Dame 83-71. Gonzaga’s best player, Przemek Karnowski will be key as West Virginia will look to run and press all night long which will make it difficult for Gonzaga to keep pace. Gonzaga will need to be prepared for 40 minutes of pressure.
Xavier vs. Arizona
Arizona had a rough first half vs. Saint Mary’s but rebounded for a 69-60 win to advance. Xavier not only upset the third seed in Florida State but they completely destroyed the Seminoles 91-66. Arizona will need a better start to get the win and advance as it would be much more difficult to advance against a tough Xavier team. If Xavier can manage to get off to a good start and keep up the tempo in their favor there is no reason to think we cant see another upset.
Kansas vs. Purdue
Purdue won a close entertaining game vs. Iowa State in order to advance. After a close first half top seeded Kansas was able to manhandle Michigan State in order to play in the sweet 16. Purdue forward Biggie Swanigan is arguably the most productive player left in the tournament. He had 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists in the Iowa State win. Kansas is a tough but not impossible matchup for a strong Purdue roster.
Michigan vs. Oregon
After surviving a scary plane accident, the team rebounded to win the Bug 10 tournament. After beating the higher seeded Louisville, the wolverines are now two wins away from a final four. Oregon was able to lean on their experience in just getting by a tough Rhode Island team in order to advance. Oregon is reliant on the outside shot, especially since they are playing without injured center Chris Boucher. Michigan is a versatile team that is capable of playing a variety of tempos.