If you went chalk on your bracket for your office pool you’re probably doing well as we head for the Sweet 16. All four 1-seeds, all four 2-seeds, all four 3-seeds are still in play. It wasn’t the most thrilling start to a tournament, but Jeff Goodman and Rob Dauster still took time to break down the opening two rounds on Monday’s Good ‘N Plenty podcast.
Why Each Team Can Advance Past Sweet 16
Despite what the odds-makers might tell you, each team left just has to win four more games to cut down the nets. Here’s how each one will.
The Blue Devlis have more star power than anyone else. Zion, RJ, and Cam can take over any game (eh, maybe not Cam so much). Jack White went ice cold months ago. If Tre Jones or Jordan Goldwire can knock down open shots Duke will be tough to beat.
Buzz William’s Hokies play stifling defense. They held both St. Louis and Liberty to under 40 percent shooting from the field. Kerry Blackshear and Nikeil Alexander-Walker are reliable offensive threats. Getting Justin Robinson comfortable could ignite a DEEP run for Virginia Tech.
LSU getting this far in the tournament might be the biggest shock of all. Coach Will Wade remains sidelined. Defense again is the calling card. The Tigers have also limited the opposition to under 40 percent from the field. Someone needs to get hot from deep. Tremont Waters and Naz Reid are great players who can hit big shots.
Tom Izzo making another deep run in March. Where have we heard this before? This team gets contributions up-and-down the bench. I love teams with experienced guard play. Cassius Winston and Matt McQuaid don’t get rattled. The only serious problem this team has is depth.
Mark Few is one of the best college coaches in America. What he’s done with this program is truly legendary. Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are big-time talents. They might be the most well-balanced team left. They are prone to a bad game here and there, but really who isn’t?
Terrance Mann is showing out this tournament. Mfiondu Kabengele is a monster off the bench. Combine that with how they dominate the paint and you get a team that can control the pace. Christ Koumadje staying out of foul trouble is pivotal.
Chris Beard is a favorite for Coach of the Year. Jarrett Culver is on the shortlist for best player left in the tournament. And despite all of that the Red Raiders are still a little underrated. They have arguably as much depth as anyone and play tough-nosed defense.
John Beilein is a tremendous coach with experience with winning in March. The 1-3-1 zone can trip up opponents. They are deep, they are experienced, and they share the ball. The Wolverines haven’t shot well from outside this tournament. That bubble might pop at the right time.
The Cavaliers just cannot get too far behind. Defensively sound, they grind you out on both ends, De’Andre Hunter is a lottery talent, Ty Jerome makes big shots. Getting some help from Kyle Guy would go a long way.
The Ducks are white hot from 3-point range. If that continues I don’t really care how good your defense is. If they continue to limit the turnovers they will be dangerous. Payton Prichard has to keep everyone calm and has to avoid turning the ball over seven times like he did against Wisconsin.
The Big Ten is showing off in March and Matt Painter’s team has plenty of experience. Carsen Edwards is the frontrunner for MVP of the Tournament. And that’s my big concern. It can’t just be the Carsen Edwards show. Kemba Walker disagrees though.
Tennessee is supremely confident from the free throw line. Five guys averaged double figures during the regular season. And they have a formula that works. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield are dynamic players. But this team is lucky to be where they are. Will their luck continue? They need to keep the turnovers down to a minimum.
Coby White is probably my favorite player left in the tournament. He is a microwave scorer. Cam Johnson is prolific beyond the 3-point arc. Luke Maye brings championship experience. This team plays uptempo better than anyone in the country. They wear teams out by crushing them in transition. If Carolina can get out and run you’re in trouble.
Live by the three, die by the three is a motto the Tigers take seriously. They have taken 61 three’s in two games and shot 41 percent from there. Bryce Brown and Jared Harper hold up well in the backcourt. But if Chuma Okeke or J’Von McCormick can provide a steady tertiary scoring option this is one of the few teams capable of knocking off Carolina, Houston, and Kentucky.
Houston is very guard reliant. The team’s top-five scorers are all guards. But despite their size the Cougars come at you with a relentless attack. Houston will spread you out and shoot three’s. They haven’t hit them in the first two rounds, but that’s easily fixable. Someone can help Corey Davis Jr with the scoring load.
What is the status of PJ Washington. If he is healthy then Kentucky has legit championship aspirations. Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson are keeping the Wildcats afloat, but it would be hard to see Kentucky going much deeper without Washington.
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3:16 Duke-UCF breakdown
11:15 Missed calls at the end of the game
13:11 Tennessee is lucky to be in Sweet 16
18:34 Houston should be taken seriously
36:11 Picking the Sweet 16 games