BRACKET BLOG: Sweet Sixteen (NCAA Open Thread)

Brandon Knight and John Calipari seek to lead the Kentucky Wildcats back to the Elite Eight.

Feel free to use this post as an open games thread for tonight's Sweet Sixteen action.

Previews after the jump.

Previous Entries:

The Teams

 

The Sites

  • Anaheim, Calif.
  • New Orleans, La.
  • Newark, N.J.
  • San Antonio, Texas

 

East Region

No. 1 Ohio State (34-2) vs. No. 4 Kentucky (27-8)
March 25 | 8:45 p.m. CST | Newark | CBS
Jim Nantz | Clark Kellogg

How They Got Here:
No. 1 Ohio State 98, No. 8 George Mason 66
No. 4 Kentucky 71, No. 5 West Virginia 63

It's the Young Guns versus Jared and the Popguns.

I'm sure Kentucky will put up a valiant effort in this game, and both teams use a short rotation, so depth might not be much of a factor.

But the Wildcats are a decent scoring team, not an elite one. And make no mistake, Ohio State is an elite scoring team. Sullinger will be just a little too much for Josh Harrellson to handle, while OSU's stable of guards will cause Kentucky's young perimeter players all kinds of headaches.

GAMER: OSU 72, Kentucky 65
Pomeroy: OSU 74, Kentucky 67
Sagarin: OSU 72, Kentucky 68

 

No. 2 North Carolina (28-7) vs. No. 11 Marquette (22-14)
March 25 | 6:15 p.m. CST | Newark | CBS
Jim Nantz | Clark Kellogg

How They Got Here:
No. 2 North Carolina 86, No. 7 Washington 83
No. 11 Marquette 66, No. 3 Syracuse 62

Marquette is turning into a nice story — and an effective retort to Big East detractors who insist the conference was overrated — and its coach is becoming a hot commodity as the carousel spins, but advancing beyond the Sweet Sixteen will be a tall task.

That's because the North Carolina team that awaits the Golden Eagles is incredibly talented.

Point guard Kendall Marshall is one of the most skilled lead guards in the country, even though he is a freshman.

Harrison Barnes is ready for the NBA. And big men John Henson and Tyler Zeller might be too much size inside for Marquette to handle.

But if Buzz and his "Jukes" have a chance, it's because Carolina steadfastly refuses to play much defense.

Scoring won't be at a premium in what promises to be a high-scoring affair, which means the last team with the ball may win.

GAMER: UNC 75, Marquette 68
Pomeroy: UNC 76, Marquette 73
Sagarin: UNC 71, Marquette 69

 

Southeast Region

No. 2 Florida (28-7) vs. No. 3 Brigham Young (32-4)
March 24 | 6:27 p.m. CST | New Orleans | TBS
Gus Johnson | Len Elmore | Reggie Miller

How They Got Here:
No. 2 Florida 73, No. 7 UCLA 65
No. 3 BYU 89, No. 11 Gonzaga 67

I thought Gonzaga would wipe the floor with BYU, so my opinion re: the Cougars is close to useless.

Obviously, the Fightin' Latter-Day Saints are more than just Jimmer Fredette and didn't get to 30+ wins by accident.

I like BYU to again win this rematch of last year's first-round game, which went to overtime. The merciless hobbit had more than 30 points in that game and likely will tonight, as well.

GAMER: BYU 75, Florida 70
Pomeroy: BYU 74, Florida 73
Sagarin: BYU 72, Florida 70

 

No. 4 Wisconsin (25-8) vs. No. 8 Butler (25-9)
March 24 | 8:57 p.m. CST | New Orleans | TBS
Gus Johnson | Len Elmore | Reggie Miller

How They Got Here:
No. 4 Wisconsin 70, No. 5 Kansas State 65
No. 8 Butler 71, No. 1 Pittsburgh 70

Congratulations, Wisconsin, you made it this far. Now prepare for your own personal Badger hell.

Butler is a mimic. It beats teams by becoming a better version of whatever it is that they do best.

Do you crash the boards with your interior size? Butler will find a way to out-rebound you. Like to shoot 3s? Butler will shoot a higher percentage. Is defense your forte? The Bulldogs will out-scrap, out-steal and out-hustle you.

Bo Ryan may think he knows Badgerball, but he's about to receive an education in it from a chessmaster named Brad Stevens. The glasses-wearing boy wonder with an insane attention to detail will find a way to prevail, no matter what the the computers and my stupid Second Chance bracket say.

GAMER: Wisconsin 63, Butler 60
Pomeroy: Wisconsin 66, Butler 59
Sagarin: Wisconsin 68, Butler 62

 

Southwest Region

No. 1 Kansas (34-2) vs. No. 12 Richmond (29-7)
March 25 | 6:27 p.m. CST | San Antonio | TBS
Marv Albert | Steve Kerr

How They Got Here:
No. 1 Kansas 73, No. 9 Illinois 59
No. 12 Richmond 65, No. 13 Morehead 48

No No. 1 seed ever has lost to a No. 12 seed or lower in the modern era of the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas will not be the first. Richmond is scrappy and runs a challenging match-up zone, but lacks the interior presence to contest the Morris twins. The Jayhawks will lead at halftime and pull away in the second half.

Consider my voodoo jinx fully enacted. Game on.

GAMER: Kansas 74, Richmond 68
Pomeroy: Kansas 73, Richmond 64
Sagarin: Kansas 75, Richmond 67

 

No. 10 Florida State (23-10) vs. No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth (26-11)
March 25 | 8:57 p.m. CST | San Antonio | TBS
Marv Albert | Steve Kerr

How They Got Here:
No. 10 Florida State 71, No. 2 Notre Dame 57
No. 11 VCU 94, No. 3 Purdue 76

One of the unlikeliest Sweet Sixteen pairings ever will tip off Friday night when the Florida State Seminoles take on the VCU Rams.

The Rams made it here on pure momentum, winning three NCAA games in five days after blazing to their conference championship game. They have thrashed three BCS opponents already, so they won't fear FSU.

The Seminoles, on the other hand, advanced this far with their most stifling defensive efforts of the season, holding Texas A&M to 50 points and frustrating Notre Dame's shooters all night long.

This might be the the biggest toss-up game of the Big Dance so far. If FSU can hold VCU to 60 points or less, the 'Noles should win, but if the Rams can get more of an uptempo game in their favor, you have to like their chances.

GAMER: VCU 62, FSU 61
Pomeroy: FSU 68, VCU 65
Sagarin: FSU 64, VCU 61

 

West Region

No. 1 Duke (32-4) vs. No. 5 Arizona (29-7)
March 24 | 8:45 p.m. CST | Anaheim | CBS
Verne Lundquist | Bill Raftery

How They Got Here:
No. 1 Duke 73, No. 8 Michigan 71
No. 5 Arizona 70, No. 4 Texas 69

I had a sneaking suspicion Arizona might make it this far, considering Sean Miller is a much better coach than Rick Barnes. But Coach K is a whole other matter.

While it remains to be seen whether the reintegration of Kyrie Irving will be more of a boon or a chemistry impediment, there's no denying the depth and versatility of Duke.

More important, this team is the defending national champion and wins these games more often than not.

Miller's going to build a great program in Arizona and Derrick Williams is going to be a hell of a player in the NBA, but their ride together likely ends tonight. The Wildcats are just a little too young to win this game.

GAMER: Duke 71, Arizona 69
Pomeroy: Duke 79, Arizona 69
Sagarin: Duke 71, Arizona 65

 

No. 2 San Diego State (34-2) vs. No. 3 Connecticut (28-9)
March 24 | 6:15 p.m. CST | Anaheim | CBS
Verne Lundquist | Bill Raftery

How They Got Here:
No. 2 SDSU 71, No. 7 Temple 64 (2OT)
No. 3 UConn 69, No. 6 Cincinnati 58

If Steve Fisher has any Fab Five magic left in his wizard sleeves, this might be the game to pull it out. He'll need it to defeat Kemba and the Miracles.

Although San Diego State will have a distinct home-court advantage less than 90 miles from its campus, the Aztecs still are relatively new to this stage.

Jim Calhoun, though, is a master in this tournament, which is why it was so weird to see him not in it last season.

If SDSU can establish its style of game — a physical, rebounding-heavy, pound 'em in the paint affair — I like its chances to win. But if the Aztecs let Kemba Walker get going, they're going to have a long night.

This one almost is too close to call, but I have SDSU going to the Final Four in both my original and Second Chance brackets, so I'm going to stand by my men.

GAMER: SDSU 66, UConn 62
Pomeroy: SDSU 66, UConn 62
Sagarin: SDSU 67, UConn 66

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