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For this preview, I’m going to take a look at the bracket four teams at a time and who I think will make the Sweet 16 out of that group. After that, I’ll go from there to determine who will make it out of the bracket.
16. Texas-San Antonio/Alabama St.
8. George Mason
I don’t think the winner of the play-in game is going to matter one bit. Ohio St. should manhandle either team that wins.
George Mason is a team that I adore as a Cinderella team, but they had a bad draw. I expect them to win by 10-12 points against ‘Nova.
Ohio St. is by far the best team in the tournament, and I don’t see George Mason taking them out. The Buckeyes are just too powerful all around, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a game that comes down to the wire.
UAB and Clemson are both controversial picks, but they are lucky and are in the coveted 5/12 matchup, where people generally look for upsets. I expect Cameron Moore to dominate and UAB is going to win the play-in game, but great guard play is supposed to win championships in college basketball, and that holds true here for West Virginia.
Princeton is another school trying to put on the glass slipper, and it’s going to fit. They gutted out a huge win against Harvard to win the Ivy League Tournament just a week after they lost to them. Kentucky saw last year how they had trouble winning win freshman, and this year Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones are the leading scorers and I have trouble seeing them take the team out of this game on a winning note.
Princeton’s slipper is not going to break until they get out of the second round at least. I just see them riding out the hot streak to get to the Sweet 16 over WVU. West Virginia is battle tested, and I see a letdown when they see they’re playing Princeton.
14. Indiana St.
Xavier closed out the season by with a 16-2 record in their last 18 games. Marquette is a dangerous team with Jimmy Butler, but I don’t see enough signature wins in accord to how many opportunities they played to overtake Xavier.
I don’t see much competition going against Syracuse in this one. Indiana St. does not stand a chance.
Syracuse is a team that really scares me. They finished the season on fire in the tough Big East, but Xavier finished even hotter in a decent A-10. Each team matches up with each other evenly. Jamel McLean and Rick Jackson will be a fun battle to watch down low, and Dante Jackson and Kris Joseph will be another interesting match-up. In the end, I’m going to go with the team with the best player, and Xavier has just that with Tu Holloway.
2. North Carolina
15. Long Island
Washington has Isaiah Thomas, and that should be enough leadership to take them to the next round. Georgia is a worthy adversary, will bring a close game, but in the end, Washington prevails.
Long Island had a pretty good season, but there simply isn’t enough to challenge UNC.
This is another game where I just don’t think there is enough talent to match-up with each other. UNC is simply going to overwhelm Washington.
1. Ohio St.
Princeton’s buck stops here. The ride was fun while it lasted, but in the end, I do not see how they can even give Ohio St. a game. Princeton gets there thanks to a weak draw, but Ohio St. will squash any hopes and run away with it.
2. North Carolina
I love both of these teams, but unfortunately for one, it ends. Xavier has absolutely no depth. They don’t get any more than six points from the bench in most games and there’s no way they can hold up the whole game against North Carolina. Harrison Barnes keeps the UNC revival going and takes them to the Elite Eight.
2. North Carolina
I know you’re thinking I’m taking the easy way out in this bracket by taking the top two seeds in the region, but I don’t feel anyone else is good enough to make it this far. The only other team I can see getting here is Syracuse.
Ohio St. is a well-led team on the court, with three of their top four scorers juniors or older, have great guards and can compete down low.
UNC’s doesn’t have a senior that gets any playing time and as of late, have been playing from behind to win games. They just simply can’t fall behind against the Buckeyes.
Like I said before, guard play wins championships, and Ohio St. earns a spot in the final four because of it.
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