March Madness: Sweet Sixteen Preview

March Madness: Sweet Sixteen Preview
We'll never know for sure how Michigan's roller coaster season would have ended. (Photo: Mike Mulholland | MLive.com)

After an action-packed opening weekend of the March Madness tournament, better games are up ahead, starting with the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday. Many upsets left top teams from continuing their tournament hopes and opened the way for some new teams. The teams that are still alive hope to extend their season and to continue their late-season run. Here are the rankings for the remaining sixteen teams:

  1. Gonzaga

    The clear top seed all season has more in the tank. Forward Corey Kispert has been on fire from three-point territory. Continued success from the starters and starting off each game hot and finishing will be the keys to a Gonzaga championship.

  2. Baylor

    After a semifinal exit in the Big 12 tournament, Baylor has returned to its regular-season style of winning. In Baylor’s most recent game, they shot above forty-seven percent from three. This level of shooting won’t be easy to maintain, and more challenging teams will come. But if Baylor comes to play, they have a great opportunity of taking the title from Gonzaga.

  3. Houston

    Houston looked great in the AAC final and used the momentum to cruise through the first game. However, their second game was more challenging. Rutgers put in a good fight and led for some of the game before Houston could come back. This team is known for its excellent defensive play. With a few days off before their next game, they will rest and prepare for Syracuse. 

  4. Alabama

    An excellent three-point shooting squad has led Alabama to the Sweet Sixteen, especially coming off a blowout victory against Maryland due to shooting above forty-eight percent from three. SEC Coach of the Year Nate Oats has elevated this team and will continue to guide them to a deep tournament run.

  5. Michigan

    Many thought the injury to Isaiah Livers was the end for Michigan. Without him in the lineup, Chaundee Brown and Eli Brooks have stepped up. Michigan survived a tough one against LSU and will likely face another tough matchup against Florida State. If other players can step up in Livers’ place, the Wolverines are in a good place.

  6. Florida State

    Florida State is a great defensive team with some NBA talent. The Seminoles are coming off an eighteen-point victory against Colorado. They will be put to the test on Sunday when they take on Michigan. There are two versions of this team: The late-season Seminoles and early in the season and during this tournament Seminoles. If Florida State continues playing like the latter, it will take a tough team or a rough outing to send them home.

  7. Loyola Chicago

    In head coach Porter Moser’s second tournament with Loyola Chicago, the Ramblers have continued their hot play. They are coming off a victory against Illinois, in which Loyola played excellent defense and forced many turnovers. In their favor, they get to face twelfth ranked Oregon State in the Sweet Sixteen if they continue playing like this; who knows if they will make the Final Four again or even the championship game.

  8. Oregon

    The Ducks’ offense exploded against Iowa, scoring ninety-five points. Even with allowing Luka Garza to score thirty-six points, Oregon won by fifteen. Their starters all average over thirty minutes a game, contributing significantly to the team’s success. Transfer LJ Figueroa has helped Oregon from deep. With a matchup against a familiar team, Oregon will look to capitalize on the opportunity.

  9. Arkansas

    Arkansas has faced two tough matchups so far in the tournament. Forward Justin Smith has been the go-to player for the Razorbacks in the tournament. But for this team to reach the Elite 8, guard Moses Moody will need to step up. The combination of these two makes a tough team to defend. Their next matchup will be a test to see if this team is legit.

  10. Creighton

    After a disastrous Big East tournament final, Creighton survived a tight first-round matchup and won by double digits in the second round. They will play their most challenging game all season on Sunday against Gonzaga. The Bluejays will need to continue shooting it well from deep and defending well to even think about winning.

  11. USC

    Led by Evan Mobley, the Trojans have been doing quite well in the tournament. After an 85-51 victory against Kansas, USC faces fellow Pac-12 team Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen. In their lone matchup this year, USC won by double digits. Both of these teams have played on another level so that that matchup could have been a fluke. Regardless, in the third round, this sixth-ranked team is a favorite to win.

  12. Villanova

    Villanova has been proving doubters wrong so far. Collin Gillespie was a significant loss for them, but the Wildcats turned it around for the games that mattered most. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has led Villanova in scoring, and in their latest game, the Wildcats as a team shot fifty percent from three. Baylor will put Villanova to the test, but their chances may not be as slim as everyone imagined before the tournament with their recent playstyle.

  13. Syracuse

    An excellent three-point shooting effort has carried Syracuse to the Sweet Sixteen. As an eleven seed earning one of the last bid spots, the Orange have played well so far. Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim is fortunate to coach his son, Buddy Boeheim, this season. Buddy has been on fire lately. In a difficult matchup against a defensively strong Houston team, Syracuse will need to continue hitting their shots to continue their tournament run.

  14. UCLA

    After a comeback game in the Round of 68, UCLA has cruised to the Sweet Sixteen. Mainly because of Johnny Juzang. Juzang transferred from Kentucky in the offseason and has made an immediate impact on UCLA. Many other players average double digits, so the Bruins have more players to rely on for scoring. The way to continue their run is to either play excellent perimeter defense or keep up with Alabama’s scoring.

  15. Oral Roberts

    For the first time since 2013, a fifteen seed has made it to the Sweet Sixteen, after two significant victories against Ohio State and Florida. NCAA’s leading scorer, Max Abmas, is the key to Oral Roberts’ success. Both him and Kevin Obanor have combined for over fifty points in each of their first two games. The Golden Eagles face Arkansas next, the next team in their way to continue the Cinderella story. Most fans are excited to watch this team attempt to win more games.

  16. Oregon State

    The unexpected Pac-12 champions have continued their run, with three-point shooting being the key to success for the Beavers. Oregon State has won their first two matchups by over double digits, most recently defeating top NBA pick Cade Cunningham. Their next matchup is against Loyola Chicago, a defensively great team that held Illinois to fifty-eight points. Oregon State will need help from three-pointers to carry them to the Elite 8.

 

Sammy Berger
About Sammy Berger 12 Articles
Sammy Berger is a huge Islanders, Giants and Nets fan. He also covers Hockey and College Basketball for Uncut Sports News.
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