A Tournament Challenge Champion Crowned

NCAA tournament challenge

Our 1st annual ESPN Tournament Challenge has come to a close and we thank all that participated and put forth your best brackets.  Out of the 12 total competitors, one emerged to be come the 1st ever champion and that is Wes Anderson.  His bracket accumulated a total of 1150 points and he correctly predicted the National Champion to be the Louisville Cardinals.  He takes home the crown and will forever be known as the 1st ever Deep South Sports Blog Tournament Challenge Champion and will go down in our history.

All of us from the Deep South Sports Blog give him a warm congratulations and hope that he takes this honor with great pride.  We appreciate all that participated and look forward to you all participating next year.  We will be continuing this tradition here at the Deep South Sports Blog and look forward to seeing all of you in our next Tournament Challenge.  Until then, bone up on your Bracketology, it’s never too early to start your path to being the greatest bracketologist and take home the next Tournament Challenge crown.

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Cardinals are True No. 1

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Well you can “chalk” this one up, it’s all over.  We finally know who the true number 1 team is in college basketball and that would be the Louisville Cardinals.  This was a regular clash of the titans between truly the top two teams in the country ending in an 82-76 Louisville win.  Michigan fought hard and even had Louisville buried at one point, but Louisville’s resiliency was just too much for the Wolverines and the Cardinals stormed back to break Michigan’s heart.

I was a little off with my score prediction, a little low in fact, but nonetheless accurately predicted a close game between two great teams.  The game started with a back in forth affair, with both teams scoring at will.  Then Michigan started to really take control led by an unlikely source in Spike Albrecht coming off the bench to get 17 points including 4 3’s to get the Michigan lead up to as much as 12 points late in the first half.  Enter Luke Hancock.

Final Four Most Outstanding Player, “Cool Hand” Luke Hancock would then start to 2402182_Glight it up himself from downtown and lead his Cardinals all the way back.  He made 4 3-point shots in the span of 2 minutes and brought the Cardinals back to within one point going into halftime.  Contributions by Chane Behanan and Gorqui Dieng in getting rebounds and dominating inside the paint really wore Michigan down inside and continued to be deflating for a Michigan team because they couldn’t get consistent stops.

After halftime, it would be a back in forth affair the rest of the way.  Trey Burke would start to make his presence felt and really turn it on for Michigan all over the floor.  On the other side, Peyton Siva would shoulder the load and score and distribute really helping his team keep up with the Trey Burke led attack from Michigan.  Russ Smith would have an off night which didn’t hurt the Cardinals in the end but definitely didn’t help during the game.  That’s why you got teammates though, to pick you up and make up for it and that’s exactly what guys like Hancock, Dieng, and Behanan did.  Louisville would get it up to a 10 point game late in the game and Michigan would cut it to 4, but with the help of great rebounding and free throw showing, Louisville was able to put it away.

basketball-ncaaBoth teams were really equal on both sides of the ball and it was truly a test of just who was the better team and Louisville proved that.  Rebounding and resiliency were what eventually would push Louisville over the top and give them the National Championship.  Don’t count out their tremendous amounts of emotion either playing for their teammate Kevin Ware.  Tip your cap to Michigan though, they played valiantly and you got to feel for the guys because they played so hard, but someone had to lose.

It surely was an exciting National Championship and one of the best I have watched.  It definitely was the best way to end this tournament of March Madness and after this lack luster season, the championship game definitely needed to be like what transpired Monday night.  After the long journey one team stands as number 1, and that team is the Louisville Cardinals.  A team that showed heart, resiliency, gut, and emotion, these guys earned it and deserved it.  They are the true warriors because they were able to survive the madness.

National Championship Madness Preview and Predictions

Ah yes, at last we have reached the pinnacle of college basketball, the National Championship game to decide who is truly the best team in the land.  The first and only time we will have a true number 1 team because all year nobody knew who the number 1 team was because so many teams were in and out of that number 1 spot.  Now, it will be officially determined, let’s preview this baby and I’ll give you my prediction.     

2046_michigan_wolverines-alternate-1996     Michigan vs. Louisville    Louisville_Logo

          9:23 PM ET CBS

It comes down to this, two powerhouse teams from two powerhouse conferences.  The kind of matchup we were all dreaming about I’m sure.  Michigan brings in their wealth of NBA talent to face a stout Louisville team that has their fair share of NBA talent as well.  Michigan will look to use these guys, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., to score points early and often to lead them to victory.  They possess an ability to run the floor and spread teams out which is the main reason why they were able to gut the 2-3 zone of the Syracuse Orange.  Nick Stauskas will prove to be a big asset as well with his ability to hit 3’s and stretch out the Louisville defense.  If he is on tonight, it will certainly be very difficult for Louisville to beat this team.  Mitch McGary is another for Michigan to watch for, a consistent double double machine, he can dominate the glass and get those rebounds for crucial second chance points.  His ability to dominate the glass will also be key for Michigan to be able to get the win.

Louisville will be looking to once again ride their star player, Russ Smith, to victory.  Smith can create havoc all over the court and really create stress on opposing teams’ defenses with his magnificent ability to drive and finish at the hoop.  Peyton Siva will look to bounce back from a less than stellar performance in the Final Four and try to create more offense on his end.  His main ability is to distribute and guide the offense but his scoring will need to pick it up to keep up with the Wolverines.  The “X-factor” in this game could end up being “Cool Hand” Luke Hancock, a forward that can flat shoot the lights out and has been doing that late in the tournament.  His ability to hit 3’s and stretch the defense of teams really helps their scoring inside the paint as well from beyond the arc.  A team full of resiliency and emotion, Louisville will look to rise to the occasion and play for their teammate Kevin Ware and get the big win.

Both teams have plenty of similarities, can hit 3’s, can score in the paint, get rebounds, be resilient and both playing with emotion.  So who pull this one out? Who wins it all?  A tough one to call but after watching this whole tournament play out and even some before the NCAA tournament I have come to my conclusion.  The 2012-2013 NCAA basketball National Champion will be…the Louisville Cardinals.

Duke v Louisville

Yep, going chalk on this one.  They have all the tools to match Michigan blow for blow but I think the emotion and the play by Russ Smith will push them over the top.  The Cardinals will reign supreme and in a close contest. I’ll say 65-63 just for fun to see how close I can get.  I know I’m ready for this one and I feel it will be quite exciting to watch.  Enjoy this one everyone, I sure will.  Let the madness continue for one last time.

Final Four Madness Recap

And then there were 2…

The Final Four was certainly much more exciting than the previous rounds and thank goodness, it is about time.  I got half my picks right which I feel decent about, but the main thing was that both games went down to the wire and had some fantastic finishes that left you on the edge of your seat.  That’s all that really mattered to me.  Now, let’s dive in to the recap of all the action.

 

Louisville-72 Wichita State-68

Shock-absorbed

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This game started out and lasted most of the way thinking Wichita State would yet again “shock” their opponent and the nation.  Louisville though had other plans and absorbed the shock to pull this one out.  Wichita State played behind their strength in Carl Hall and their dominant rebounding ability to grab the early lead and then eventually get the game up to an eleven point separation.  All looked lost for the Cardinals but they would certainly not quit and rise to the occasion.  Russ Smith and an unlikely hero, Luke Hancock aka “Cool Hand” Luke, would help the Cardinals guide their way back to claim victory.  The Cardinals ability to create turnovers and make the Shockers uneasy on the offensive end led them on their charge back to “shock” the Shockers.  Wichita State was off balance late in the game because of the constant full court pressure and it led to some easy baskets for the Cardinals.  Then “Cool Hand” Luke would start to drain threes to put the Cardinals out of reach, clinching a spot in the National Championship game.  The Shockers put up a tough fight and I thought at one point they were going to pull it off, but the clock strikes midnight on this Cinderella story and the number 1 overall seed Cardinals are moving on.

 

Michigan-61 Syracuse-56

Orange Sliced and Squeezed

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Yes, the Orange great 2-3 zone defense that pretty much carried them this far got sliced and squeezed against the Wolverines.  Syracuse could never really find a rhythm to stop Michigan on offense and that ultimately led to their demise.  A back in forth affair, James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams definitely did not have their best performances on the court, large in part due to Michigan’s athletic squad.  They only combined for 7 points and Michael Carter-Williams fouled out late in the game when they would definitely need him to try to come back.  The Orange were bad from the three point range also which crippled their offense and on the flip side Michigan was much more efficient which helped spread out that 2-3 zone.  Michigan didn’t appear to have a very electrifying evening shooting either but they had a more well rounded attack with three different guys in double digits and everyone on their whole team contributing.  The big advantage was in the rebounding game where Michigan forward, Mitch McGary, dominated the glass snatching 12 rebounds and also adding 10 points giving him a double double.  The Wolverines definitely slashed through the Orange defense enough to get the win.  They certainly benefited from their NBA pedigree roster and seemed to look like a team of destiny.  After surviving that daunting task they claim the last spot in the National Championship, they are also moving on.

The National Championship is set and it is shaping up to be a very entertaining one, we can only hope.  Two teams loaded with talent all over the floor will certainly fight toe to toe to claim the National Championship.  Tomorrow I will post my National Championship preview and predictions so be on the lookout for that.  Until then, enjoy some baseball and cross your fingers and hope for a wonderful National Championship.  I know certainly will.

Final Four Madness Preview and Predictions

NCAA_FinalFourLogo

“Hey, don’t forget about me!”  Oh yeah that’s right, we have a Final Four and a National Championship coming up in college basketball.  Almost forget with all the attention directed towards the controversy of Louisville exploiting the Kevin Ware injury, the Auburn scandal, Mike Rice’s firing, Mark Cuban‘s comments on drafting Brittney Griner, and the excitement of the start of the major league baseball season.  Sorry college basketball, but it’s been a long busy, news filled week in the sports world and you kind of got pushed under the rug.  But no worries, we didn’t forget about you and I am here to give you, readers, my Final Four preview and predictions as promised.  Let’s dive in.

 

Saturday, April 6th

Wit St    9 Wichita State vs. 1 Louisville     Louisville_Logo

@ 6:09 PM ET  CBS

The Shockers and the Cardinals will battle it out to earn their trip to the National Championship.  The Shockers have “shocked” the basketball world this entire tournament as they have one by one taken down everyone in their path and doing it pretty impressively as well.  They really haven’t played a true close contest, for a whole game, all tournament.  They’ll look to ride their star, Senior Carl Hall, and their dominant ability to team rebound to try and take down the Cardinals, but can that be enough?  I just don’t know about that.  The Cardinals feature no doubt one of the best all-around players in the game in Russ Smith, and they will be riding him to keep their high scoring offense going.  The emotional win over Duke, after Kevin Ware went down with one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of sports, was certainly their highlight of the tournament as they were tied at 42 apiece and then they would go on to route Duke 85-63.  They have been scoring at will since all the way back to the beginning of the Big East tournament and I don’t see that trend changing any.

Winner: Louisville

 

     su_logo_medium        4 Syracuse vs. 4 Michigan          2046_michigan_wolverines-alternate-1996

@ 8:49 PM ET  CBS

The Orange and Wolverines will take the court after the Shock and Cards to fill that final spot for the National Championship.  Syracuse comes in featuring the most dominant defense of the tournament using their dangerous 2-3 zone to shut down opponent after opponent.  Everyone that has faced the Cuse has faced the wrath of this vaunted defense and the Wolverines are next up.  Led by James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams, the Cuse will be looking to get ahead and use their defense to stay ahead.  These guys will help create the fast break points out of playing the tough 2-3 zone.  Michigan will be trying to use stars of their own in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to create mismatches and score points early and often on Syracuse.  Against Florida they were able to do that with much success and Florida was known for being a defensively strong team.  Michigan sure found the holes in that defense.  Nick Stauskas was huge hitting threes and he will need to be huge again and knock down threes because that’s how you create the holes inside the 2-3 zone.  Even still, I just don’t know if they can manage against this beast of a defense.

Winner: Syracuse

 

Yep, a Big East Championship all over again is my prediction.  What a story line it would be and Syracuse would get their chance to avenge their Big East Championship loss to the Cardinals.  Either way the predictions go I just hope that this Final Four is better than the pathetic Elite 8 we had to endure last weekend. We can only cross our fingers and hope.  After this rough week in the sports world, we are due for some good, clean, exciting games.  Let the madness continue.

Elite 8 Madness Recap

And then there were 4…

And what snoozers they were, but nonetheless the Elite 8 is now in the books.  We are left with 4 remaining teams that all have an equal shot to put themselves in position for a National Championship.  Let’s take a look back at all the action that transpired over the weekend.

12113143Syracuse- 55  Marquette- 39

Orange “Crush” Golden Eagles

The 2-3 zone once again stole the show in this one.  Syracuse’s suffering defense absolutely undressed the Golden Eagles as Marquette on shot 12-53 from the floor, that’s only 22 %!  That is probably one of the worst Elite performances I have seen, shooting that low of a percentage.  People could be like, “Oh Marquette missed shots blah..blah.”  I say, no, Marquette just got dominated by a team that runs the 2-3 zone better than anyone and can use their star players, James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams, to put them ahead in games and never look back.  Still, you got to tip your cap to Marquette for getting this far, they just ran into a buzz-saw yesterday that would’ve cut through anyone.  The Cuse will be taking their deadly 2-3 zone to Atlanta.

Wichita State- 70 Ohio State- 66

Buckeyes get Shockedwichita-state-final-four

A game that was much farther apart than the final score indicated for sure.  Wichita State led by 20 at one point in the game and was utterly dominating Ohio State, but give credit to the Buckeyes, they did not give up and nearly made one of the most impressive comebacks in tournament history.  They just ended up running out of time and Wichita State, behind Carl Hall’s stout defense, were able to hold on for dear life to propel themselves into the Final Four.  Ohio State only hit 5-25 from three point range and when you are trying to comeback it makes it harder when you can’t knock down 3s.  The Shockers were more physical than Ohio State and more efficient shooting the ball which made the difference.  They move on and for a little bit longer, they keep their Cinderella story from striking midnight.

02nik-blog480Michigan-79  Florida- 59

Gators get Chomped

Big Blue flat out just made it rain all over the Gators in this blow out Elite 8 game.  Michigan made 47 % from the floor and a ridiculous 52 % from three point range hitting 10 3s as a team.  Freshman guard Nick Stauskas hit 6 of the 10 3s and led the Wolverines in this onslaught with 22 points.  Florida just could not get going from the start yet again and facing a NBA talented type Michigan team, that’s not going to cut it.  After getting down 13-0, they would only get as close as 11 points.  Just when they would make a run, Michigan would flip the momentum and go on a run of their own, widening the gap.  An absolute domination by Michigan, showing why they were a National Champion favorite at the beginning of the season.  As a result, Big Blue is moving on.

Louisville-85  Duke-63russ-smith-louisville-basketball-player

Uh..Cardinals smash Blue Devils

Yeah so I really couldn’t come up with a catchy title to describe the game, if you have a good one, let me know.  Either way, the pitiful name for this beat-down probably sums up this game, close at halftime nonetheless but then Louisville just turned it on to destroy Duke.  Louisville shot 52 % from the field and Russ Smith was, well once again, Russ-diculous.  He went for 23 points in a modest night to lead his Cardinals over the Blue Devils.  Driven by the emotional loss of one of their fallen Cardinals during the game, Kevin Ware in a gruesome leg injury, the Cardinals went on to roll Duke.  My prayers go out to him and his family, I truly hope he gets better.  No kid deserves to suffer an injury like that, let alone any kind of injury.  Cardinals do move onto the Final Four and get that last spot in Atlanta.

Well that was the Elite 8, a rather dull and uneventful slate of games indeed.  Either way, they have come to end, thank goodness, and now we move onto the Final Four where we hope it’s filled with a little more madness and more excitement.  Later this week I will give my Final Four preview and predictions so be on the lookout for that.  Until then, keep Kevin Ware and his family in your prayers and enjoy the brand new baseball season.  We resume the madness this weekend.

Elite 8 Madness Preview and Predictions

The road to the Final Four continues and the field has been narrowed to eight remaining teams after the completion of the Sweet 16 yesterday.  There will be two games later today and two games tomorrow on Sunday.  Let’s take a look at the upcoming action and I’ll also reveal my winners to advance on to the Final Four.  Who will advance to the Final Four?

Saturday, March 30th

4 Syracuse vs. 3 Marquette @ 4:30 PM ET  CBSNCAA Basketball: Big East Tournament-Louisville vs Syracuse

A Big East clash to determine the East Region champion, Syracuse will try to use their stout 2-3 zone to put a stop to the Golden Eagle’s run in this tournament.  Led by Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland, Syracuse will look to smother Marquette and use their suffocating defense to get easy fast-break points.  Vander Blue and the Golden Eagles will look to remain hot on the offensive end and continue to be clutch down the stretch, late in games.  They have certainly past the test in winning close games in this year’s tournament, but this team will be the best they have faced so far.

Winner: Syracuse

13-03-24-MB-0537-jpg-3-259 Wichita State vs. 2 Ohio State @ 7:05 PM ET CBS

For the West Region crown, the last remaining “Cinderella story” is left.  Wichita State has done its fair share of upsets in this tournament and after a flat out beat down on La Salle, they look to be clicking on all cylinders.  Ohio State, led by Mr. Clutch himself, Aaron Craft, look to keep finding that rabbit in the hat and continue to win games on any means necessary.  The Shockers will look to use their strength to get it done by out rebounding the Buckeyes who struggle on the glass, but I’m just not so sure that it will be enough to slow down the dangerous Ohio State attack.  Plus, if it’s close late, it will obvious who is going to win, right?

Winner: Ohio State

Sunday, March 31st

4 Michigan vs. 3 Florida @ 2:20 PM ET  CBSTrey-Burke2

These traditional football powers will battle it out for the South Region championship, proving that they are a power in basketball as well.  Led by Trey Burke, Michigan will look to keep riding the hot hand of this young man after his stellar performance against Kansas.  He didn’t even score until the second half but still finished with 23 points and the important game-tying 3 to send the game to overtime where Michigan would eventually win.  They face a Florida team who just passed the daunting task of beating “America’s Team”, party poopers they are.  Nonetheless, an impressive win after weathering the storm early, they slowly gained control and manhandled the out-gunned FGC Eagles.  Florida will look to use their nasty in the paint game to wear down Michigan and slow down their offensive firepower, but that is going to be awful tough to do, I think.

Winner: Michigan

2 Duke vs. 1 Louisville @ 5:05 PM ET  CBS

Finally the one imagesto wrap up the Elite 8 play, a “clash of the titans” for the Midwest Region championship.  Louisville and Duke will face off in probably the most anticipated matchup of the Elite 8.  Louisville rides in on the amazing play of Russ Smith, who just had 31 points against Oregon to help his Cardinals cruise and giving him a total of 81 points in this tournament, is there any stopping him at this point?  Duke will try to ride its hot hand in Seth Curry, who had 29 points in their win over Michigan State in the Sweet 16.  Mason Plumlee needs to stay out of foul trouble and on the court if they want to have their best chance at winning.  Both teams have been looking great and been handling their opponents throughout the entire tournament.  A great matchup, that will have a National Championship feel, someone has got to come out on top.

Winner: Louisville

 

So there you have it, my picks to advance onto the Final Four that could yield me getting half of my Final Four right (Louisville and Ohio State).  Do you see the trend?  That would be a Big East vs. Big Ten Final Four which makes for exciting basketball and we can get an even better idea as to who has the best conference in basketball this year.  I will have a recap of the Elite 8 after the games has taken place.  Until then, sit back and enjoy the action, I know I will.  Let the madness continue.

Related Articles: 

Elite Eight Predictions: Who Will Reach The Final Four?

March Madness Elite 8 picks (NCAAM)

Sweet 16 Madness Recap

And then there were 8…

The Sweet 16 has come to an end and the Elite 8 is now set.  How did we get to this point?  Let’s recap the Sweet 16 and see how it all went down.

NCAA Indiana Syracuse Basketball.JPEG-0cca0On Thursday, there were three double digit wins and one game that featured a very familiar late game winning ending to it.  The East Region was filled with not that much excitement.  3 seed Marquette pretty much manhandled 2 seed Miami in their game.  Shane Larkin not having such a great night, along with the rest of the Miami Hurricanes, they could not find a rhythm and had no answer for Vander Blue and the Marquette Golden Eagles.  Marquette would lead big the whole night and never look back, burying Miami and advancing onto the Elite 8.  Their challenger will be the 4 seed Syracuse Orange after they put down the 1 seed Indiana Hoosiers.  Syracuse, led by James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams, continued to play their nasty 2-3 zone that Indiana had no answer for.  Indiana looked lost all night and had trouble creating any kind of rhythm on offense to generate points.

The West Region featured an exciting game earlier in the evening with 2 seed Ohio State clipping 6 seed Arizona Wildcats at the buzzer.  Aaron Craft would pass to LaQuiton Ross and he would knock down the 3 with 2 seconds left to give the Buckeyes the win.  Like de ja vu all over again for the Buckeyes, and they advance on again just by the hair on their chinny chin chin.  Later that night 9 seed Wichita State utterly dominated 13 seed La Salle.  They ended the Cinderella run of La Salle, but they continue their run of their own.  The Shockers dominated on the boards 44-24 and this was the biggest reason why the Shockers dispatched of the Explorers.

On Friday night, there was a lot of the same, three wider margin wins and one exciting finish.  In the play_pow_36Midwest Region, the 1 seed Louisville Cardinals handled the 12 seed Oregon Ducks.  A valiant effort and great tournament run by the Ducks, they certainly surpassed expectations, but they were just flat outgunned in this one.  It didn’t help they struggled making the easy plays and really hurt their own chances.  More so though, Louisville’s Russ Smith was spectacular with 31 points and he really dictated the entire game.  They will get to lock up with the 2 seed Duke Blue Devils after they took care of the 3 seed Michigan State Spartans.  The Blue Devils rode their strength in complete basketball behind Seth Curry and were able to win the battle of the legendary coaches.  Sparty just couldn’t quite get it done and that leaves the highest profile matchup for the Elite 8 in 1 seed Louisville against 2 seed Duke.

032913_Michigan_600Last but not least, the South Region had the most interest of the Sweet 16 matchups.  Early in the evening there was the exciting game from 1 seed Kansas and 4 seed Michigan where Trey Burke hit a game tying 3 with under 5 seconds to go to send it to overtime.  Michigan would then go on to win 87-85 and completely rip the heart out of the Kansas Jayhawks because they had the game locked up and could not close it out.  That leaves the last one of the night where Cinderella story 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles would take on 3 seed Florida Gators.  There was so much hype for this exciting team and their run and rightfully so but maybe too much of the weight of the pressure on their backs.  They started out great early but then the game settled in and Florida started taking over the game and controlling the Eagles.  And yes, it has struck midnight and the Cinderella story is over, sucking the wind out of the tourney in my opinion.  Hate to see that kind of exciting team go down, but as it is, Florida advances to the Elite 8 to take on Michigan and congrats to them, they showed up and took them seriously.

The Elite 8 is just on the horizon as the first two games will get started later today, so stay tuned for my Elite 8 preview and I am going to be doing predictions for this one as well.  I will have that up before the games tip off.  Until then, sleep easy and dream of more exciting finishes for these games, I know I will.

Sweet 16 Madness Preview

The ‘Madness’ will resume this week as the Sweet 16 will get under way.  It puts us one step closer to deciding who will be this year’s national champion.  Let’s take a look at what each game has in store.

Thursday, March 27th:

3 Marquette vs. 2 Miami @ 7:15 PM ET  CBS

A matchup between two teams that have been living on the edge in the tournament, Marquette continues to pull out close games in the late seconds and Miami had to hold off a scare against Illinois in its Round of 32 game.  Vander Blue, for Marquette, and Shane Larkin, for Miami, lead this star-studded affair in this Sweet 16 game between Big East and ACC powers.

6 Arizona vs. 2 Ohio State @ 7:47 PM ET  TBS13-03-24-MB-0537-jpg-3-25

Ohio State rolls into this matchup on the hair of their chinny chin chin.  Aaron Craft hit a game winning three with the clock winding down to escape Iowa State.  They get their toughest task yet against Arizona who is playing the best basketball of their season right now.  Although their wins are over an 11 and 14 seed, they have nonetheless been taking care of business.  They get their first real test against Ohio State, let’s see if they are ready.

4 Syracuse vs. 1 Indiana @ 9:45 PM ET  CBS

It’s a matchup of two traditional powerhouses in basketball.  This should be one of the best games of the Sweet 16, many basketball stars will take to the court in this one.  Syracuse’s James Southerland will lead his team against Victor Oladipo and Indiana.  Can Syracuse hold off Indiana’s top scoring offense? To beat Indiana, Syracuse is going to have too.  To cut down on the points from Indiana, Syracuse needs to take advantage of its ability to rebound to keep Indiana from getting second chance points.  This will give Syracuse the best shot at knocking off the number 1 seed.

13 La Salle vs. 9 Wichita State @ 10:17 PM ET  TBS

The matchup everyone will have their eyes on..Maybe.  A matchup between a 9 and 13 seed doesn’t appear to be that exciting but these teams are legitimate and don’t let the seeding deter you from watching this game.  La Salle’s own Tyrone Garland is just one of the many reasons to watch, an unknown star in the making that certainly is making his name known in this tournament.  Wichita State, fresh off their win over the 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs have to have all the confidence in the world right now.  Too hot teams, one great game.  I can’t wait.

Friday, March 28th:

12 Oregon vs. 1 Louisville @ 7:15 PM ET CBS120303.ajm_.bkc_.utah_4867-670x536

Another surprise of the bracket, PAC 12 Champ Oregon, taking on the “chalk” of the bracket.  Louisville possesses talent all over which is going to make it an uphill battle for the Ducks to pull this one-off.  But don’t count them out, that’s what people have been doing all year and they just keep proving us wrong.  So just because it is a 12 vs. a 1 don’t flip away from this one, it could just be the next big upset in the tournament.

4 Michigan vs. 1 Kansas @ 7:37 PM ET CBS

A powerhouse matchup that is sure to bring the roof down Friday night.  These two teams roll in playing their best basketball of the season.  Led by Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan has been rolling through the tournament so far.  Playing in the tough Big Ten has definitely prepared them for a game like this because they are certainly battle tested.  They’ll be trying to take down a Kansas team that all though has faced a less daunting task than Michigan over the season, they are definitely one of the best in the country.  Going to be a heavyweight fight for sure.

3 Michigan State vs. 2 Duke @ 9:45 PM ET CBS

A game of legendary coaches, Tom Izzo of Michigan State and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, going head to head trying to bolster their already impressive coaching resume.  Duke has only lost one game playing with Ryan Kelly in the lineup and looks almost unbeatable at times, and Michigan State, from the mighty Big Ten, is out to prove they are one of the best in the land.  Duke can really score but has trouble getting rebounds, where Michigan State is the opposite of that, so it’ll be interesting to see which team has the most success imposing their contrasting strengths.

fgcu

15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. 3 Florida @ 9:57 PM ET TBS

To round out the Sweet 16, you got the most exciting team in the land against Florida.  That’s right, FGCU has taken the country by storm by manhandling their first two opponents, Georgetown and SDSU, and just put on a show.  Florida is out to make sure the clock strikes twelve on this Cinderella story, but they have got their hands full for sure.  I would say it’s almost like Florida against the world, because let’s be honest, who isn’t pulling for the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast?  An explosive team that has another daunting task facing another top team.  Can FGCU do it again, or will Florida end their run?

However these games play out, it is sure to be an exciting Sweet 16 and full of lots of drama, we hope.  I know I am ready to sit back and enjoy these games.  Recap of the Sweet 16 will follow the round when it is all said and done.  Who will advance to the Elite 8?  We’ll have to watch it unfold to find out it.  Let the madness continue.

Round of 32 Madness Recap

The Round of 32 is now complete and the trend of ‘madness’ has continued to highlight the tournament.  Top seeds continue to fall victim to the lower seeds and the pressure of being a top seed, while the lower seeds continue to make their names known across the country.  Let’s take a look at what transpired this past weekend.

 

fgcu-georgetown-blog-articleLarge

The most impressive team continues its dominance in this tournament and I’m not talking about the traditional basketball powers in Duke, Indiana and Kansas, I’m talking about the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles.  That’s right, FGCU has knocked off the two highest seeds they can face so far, in Georgetown and San Diego State, and they utterly beat down both of them which put them in the Sweet 16 against the 3 seed Florida Gators.  This is the first time a 15 seed has made it to the Sweet 16 ever in the tournament history.

 

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Other lower seeds had their day as well in the Round of 32 in Wichita State Shockers and the La Salle Explorers.  The Shockers knocked off the 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs, a much thought overrated 1 seed but nonetheless it is a very accomplishing feat for Wichita State.  The 13 seed La Salle Explorers beat the 12 seed SEC Champion Ole Miss Rebels in an exciting finish where La Salle’s Tyrone Garland made a lay-up with 2 seconds left to lift his team to the Sweet 16 to face the 9 seed Shockers.  Another lower seed that progressed to the Sweet 16 was those fashion clad 12 seed PAC 12 Champion Oregon Ducks who disposed of 4 seed bracket dark horse St. Louis Billikens.

Top seed teams that easily took care of their opponents include Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Louisville, Arizona, Kansas, and Duke.  All these teams easily advanced on to the Sweet 16 and looked impressive in each of their games.  The teams that had to work a little harder were Miami, Marquette, a team that has become used to these nail-biting, exciting finishes, Ohio State, Indiana, and Syracuse all faced scares in the Round of 32 that certainly threatened their current existence in this tournament.  Nevertheless, they passed the tests and are still alive and that’s all that matters, winning so they can advance.  Maybe these tough tests prove to be more help for later in the tournament, but that of course remains to be seen.

After the Round of 32, there are 3 no. 1 seeds, 3 no. 2 seeds (too bad one of these aren’t Georgetown, oh well), 3 no. 3 seeds, 2 no. 4 seeds and 1 each of a no. 6, 9, 12, 13, 15 seed.  So even though there has been a lot of madness, the Sweet 16 is still loaded with top traditional powers.  An exciting Sweet 16 is sure to ensue this weekend we’ll get a clearer picture of who is most deserving of the title.  A Sweet 16 preview will be posted later this week and take a look at each of the games that are going to take place.  With my bracket busted, along with most of the nation’s brackets, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy these games unfold without a care in the world.  Let the madness continue.