Wichita State (30-4) vs. Notre Dame (31-5), 7:15 p.m., CBS – Wichita State is rolling after a big win against in-state rival Kansas. They won from great effort on the defensive end, along with a shooting spark from junior Evan Wessel. Notre Dame has had a fairly easy road up until this point of the tournament. They beat a subpar Butler squad last round, and they almost got upset by Northeastern in the opening round. Notre Dame has the scoring offense to compete with any team in the nation. Their success depends upon if their defensive effort is at the same level as their offensive effort.
Prediction: It’s going to be a very high scoring game with lots of exciting plays, but I think that Notre Dame’s offense is just too much for Wichita State to handle.
Notre Dame 76, Wichita State 69
Kentucky (36-0) vs. West Virginia (29-6), 9:45 p.m., CBS – Kentucky has rolled through the tournament so far. There might not be a team in the field that can beat them, but only time will tell. There is also not just one player for Kentucky that has been dominating. It has been a complete team domination. West Virginia has had a surprising run into the Sweet 16. I don’t think anyone really expected them to be able to beat Maryland, but they forced a lot of turnovers and pulled it off. In order for West Virginia to pull off the biggest upset of the decade against Kentucky, they will need to win the turnover battle significantly.
Prediction: Kentucky will dominate. Period. End of discussion.
Kentucky 67, West Virginia 47
Wisconsin (33-3) vs. North Carolina (26-11), 7:47 p.m., TBS – This is the biggest matchup of the tournament so far. Wisconsin might be the best team in the nation, riding on the back of national player of the year, Frank Kaminsky. North Carolina has been rolling as of late. They made it to the ACC championship game, but blew their lead and lost to Notre Dame. They rebounded over the loss quickly and they have convincingly won their first two games of the tournament.
Prediction: North Carolina will try to push the ball and run up and down, while Wisconsin will also try to impose their will and slow the ball down. Wisconsin should be able to control the overall tempo the game and make it to the regional championship game.
Wisconsin 65, North Carolina 62
Arizona (33-3) vs. Xavier (23-13), 10:17 p.m., TBS – Arizona is an underrated two seed in the tournament. They should have been a one seed over Duke, but that’s for another day’s debate. Arizona has cruised through the first two rounds easily. Xavier is a surprise team in the Sweet 16. They had an easy round though, beating the winner of a play-in game, and then playing a weak Georgia State team who magically upset Baylor.
Prediction: Arizona should be able to cruise through this game just like they did in previous rounds.
Arizona 54, Xavier 40
N.C. State (22-13) vs. Louisville (26-8), 7:37 p.m., TBS – N.C. State has been a shocking surprise in the Sweet 16. They have the talent to compete with anyone in the nation, but they need to keep up the team chemistry that they have shown throughout the tournament. Louisville is also a surprise because Chris Jones, who is one of the best guards in the nation, was kicked off the team at the end of the season. They have turned it up on the defensive end of the floor since his removal. Louisville’s defensive pressure against Northern Iowa single-handedly won them the game.
Prediction: N.C. State’s guards will have to play their best game of their lives in order to win this game. But Montrezl Harrell will be too much in the post for N.C. State to handle.
Louisville 73, N.C. State 59
Michigan State (25-11) vs. Oklahoma (24-10), 10:07 p.m., TBS – Michigan State has rode on the backs of their tandem guards, Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine. Trice has been hitting big shot after big shot in the tournament so far. Oklahoma has had an all-around team effort throughout the tournament. They are led by junior guard Buddy Hield. Oklahoma had a close call against upset minded Dayton, but they turned up the intensity in the final two minutes and pulled out a huge win.
Prediction : Oklahoma will be too big on the inside for Michigan State to handle, and Trice’s magic will run out. “The Trice is Wrong.” Boomer Sooner!
Oklahoma 67, Michigan State 61
UCLA (22-13) vs. Gonzaga (34-2), 7:15 p.m., CBS – UCLA was not even suppose to have made it into the tournament with their weak resumé. But, they have proven everyone wrong and had made it back into the Sweet Sixteen. UCLA is led by the coach’s son, Bryce Alford. Gonzaga also wanted to prove everyone wrong after being bounced early in the tournament last season. They are led by senior guard, Kevin Pangos and junior forward, Kyle Wiltjer.
Prediction: Kyle Witjer’s ability to stretch the floor will be too much for UCLA to handle. This should be an easy win for Gonzaga.
Gonzaga 81, UCLA 67
Duke (31-4) vs. Utah (26-8), 9:45 p.m., CBS – Duke is led by their freshman trio of Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow. Okafor has been a beast down low and won/will win Freshman Player of the Year honors. Jones has been Duke’s floor general, and Winslow does all the dirty work for Duke like rebounding and getting steals on defense. Duke has rolled through the opening round of games. Utah had been a surprise for many analysts. Utah isn’t bad, but they did come out of one of the worst conferences, the Pac-12. They are led by NBA prospect, Delon Wright.
Prediction: Utah should be able to compete with Duke, but Duke’s freshman should dominate this game, especially Okafor.
Duke 68, Utah 60