A Sweet Final Four

By on March 24, 2016
( James Snook / USA TODAY Sports photo)

(James Snook / USA TODAY Sports photo)

First off, let’s give a big round of applause to the NCAA selection committee. Bravo! Nice job! Your selections gave us the best opening weekend in NCAA basketball tournament history. There was Drama; Texas A&M going on a 14-2 run in the last 30 seconds to force overtime and eventually beat Northern Iowa. There was intrigue; how would Syracuse do after barely making it into the NCAA tournament and given a number 10 seed. And there was excitement; Notre Dame tipping the ball in at the last second to beat Stephen F. Austin.

Congratulations selection committee. You made us forget about the teams you left out. Now give yourselves a big pat on the back!

Now back to the teams that matter. The teams playing in this weeks’ sweet 16.

Only four teams will be lucky to advance after this week. Only four teams will be able to cut down the nets and say they are going to the Final four.

The ACC has the most to lose. With six teams in the sweet 16 the clock is about to strike midnight for four of those teams.

The East and the Midwest Region feature four ACC teams. UNC, Notre Dame, Virginia and Syracuse all have a chance to advance to the Elite Eight and set up a potential all ACC Easter Sunday. That will not happen though as the Gonzaga Bulldogs will beat Syracuse and in an upset, Indiana will beat UNC.

Kansas has yet to break a sweat in the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks have absolutely dominated their opponents, beating them by a combined 19 points. The Terrapins on the other hand, have struggled, barely beating South Dakota State and somehow beating Hawaii by 12 points despite going 1-for-18 beyond the arc.

The most intriguing matchup has to be Oregon vs Duke. The Ducks are looking to get out of the shadows of the football program and a win over the defending national champions could catapult them from a lonely football university into a football/basketball university. The defending national champions have a problem. They lack depth. Or as Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the Blue Devils almost blew a 24 point lead to Yale in the second round, “Our house is on a cliff, and we hope it does not rain.”

Another intriguing match-up to watch will be former Big 12 foes Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The Aggies are coming off an emotional and improbable come-from-behind victory against Northern Iowa. Trailing by 10 with 33 seconds to go in the game, the Aggies went on a 14-2 run and defeated the Panthers 92-88 in double overtime. The Aggies are hoping to ride that emotional high into the Final Four, where a potential matchup with former Big 12 rival Kansas awaits them. The Sooners are looking to continue to ride the Buddy Hield train. Hield, the soon to be Naismith Player of The Year (my opinion), has scored 27 and 36 points (29 points coming in the second half against VCU) in the Sooners two NCAA tournament games.

While this years’ opening round was definitely chaotic, unpredictable and definitely made you not want to change the channel, this weeks’ games, while exciting, will be much more predictable.

Therefore, my predictions for the Final Four: Kansas, Indiana, Texas A&M and Virginia.

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