By the time of the Sweet 16, millions of brackets have been ripped apart. Ripped like an overanxious college virgin tearing apart a Durex condom for the first time (practice doesn’t count). Ripped like your overweight uncle’s jeans at a Memorial Day party dance off. Ripped. Torn to pieces. Shredded.
This is what makes the Sweet 16 so special. It is another chance to re-pick your bracket. A fresh start, a do over. And Matt-Matt is going to guide you through it. Oh yes, the name so nice you had to say it twice is ready to help. Read and rejoice.
Kansas-Maryland: On paper, the matchups are savory. Trimble and Sulaimon squaring up against Graham and Mason III. Can Robert Carter outwork the perpetual senior Perry Ellis? Fortunately for us, games are not played on paper. Maryland has had the talent to be a number 1 team all year. Yet, they are not. Something is going on behind the scenes here and we should have seen it coming. Diamond Stone chose Maryland over his hometown Wisconsin team because of a sketchy connection with Under Armor. This is not the reason for this team’s failure to reach its potential but, it does give a glimpse of the shady atmosphere this team lives in. Take Kansas in this one. They put a hurting on a red hot and underrated UConn team. There is just something going on with this Terps group. I will be watching their body language intensely if they fall behind early.
Miami-Villa-no-fun: Whoops, did I just type that? Maybe. What is more dangerous than a surging Wichita State team? The team that just beat them. Miami was able to withstand a fierce Shocker’s comeback with poise reminiscent of recent Final Four contenders. They are all in. Hell, even Coach Larrañaga added that squiggly line over the “n” is his name. Villanova is an excellent team but, they don’t have “it.” Sorry Jay, the price is not Wright. Miami in a game which is not as close as the final score will indicate.
Oregon-Duke: I don’t even want to type this one out. Does anyone really think the Ducks are going to beat Duke? No. The only chance Oregon has will be if Duke gets into foul trouble early. But, Coach K is a genius, Jimmy Neutron with worse hair. Devils over Ducks.
A&M-Oklahoma: The second most anticipated game of the Sweet 16 gave me plenty of trouble. On the one hand, A&M should not even be here. They collectively cashed in all their karma to beat a capable UNI team. On the other hand, they are here. And oh boy, they are rollin’. But they are not rollin’ Bud. Oklahoma has the best college player in the tournament. I want to pick A&M. You should too. It’s the safe pick. But the final chapter of Buddy Hield’s college career will not be written this week. Order another round of Bahama Mamas, Boomer Soon prevails in OT.
Gonzaga-Cuse: Please, do not overhype the Syracuse zone. It simply does not lead to tournament success. Jim Boeheim is averaging 1 college title every 40 years. He has been to only 4 Final Fours. Do the math. How do you beat a zone? One way is to stretch the zone. You can accomplish this by hitting 3s. Gonzaga shoots 38% as a team from 3 and hit 47% of them against Utah. How else do you beat a zone? Having a capable big man work from the gap existing at the free throw line. The Zags have two in Sabonis and Kyle Icantpronouncehislastname. Few over Boeheim.
UVA-Iowa St: UVA is rolling however, if there is one team who can challenge them right now, it is the Cyclones. This is truly a matchup of varying styles. Tony Bennett’s team wants to slow you down. They own one of the slowest paces in the league and grind it out on defense. Niang and the boys want to run and when they do, they are certainly effective. My guess is one of these coaches will have to make a halftime adjustment. Bennett is the one to bet on. Cavaliers over Cyclones in a boring one.
Notre Dame-Wisconsin: Well, no one saw this coming. Koenig with a textbook fadeaway corner three over X for the win? Yup. But, both teams are coming off of game winners. So, what will be the difference maker in this game? Demetrius “action” Jackson. Watch Mike Brey unleash the beast against Koenig and his haircut which makes it impossible to determine what nationality he is. The battle tested Irish will reap the benefits of a brutal ACC schedule. They are more prepared for this game. Jackson over Koenig in one that comes down to the wire.
UNC-IU: Which leads us to the best game of the Sweet 16. Ferrell versus Paige. Williams versus Jackson. Bryant versus Johnson. These teams are so similar in stats its making my job here a living hell. The margins between rebounds, points, assists and turnovers per game is minuscule. So do we just go chalk and call it a wrap? Not so fast. IU was able to beat up on Kentucky last week in a game which was not as close as the score suggests. OG and Troy work in a flowing offensive system which allows them to maximize their athletic potential. Yet, UNC has the athletes to match them defensively. The key to this will be whatever UNC big has to match up with IU’s smaller line ups (aka Brice Johnson). It’s a toss up, but go with the tar heels in this one. The senior leadership wins out. Wow I do not feel confident writing that.
Time for my doppelganger of the week- Ron Baker is Jonny Clay from Radio
By MattFOLLOW THE OPEN FIELD