NCAA March Madness Sweet 16 preview for Thursday | NCAA Tournament
The Madness is back on Thursday as the NCAA Tournament returns. Previous champs and recent contenders will battle it out looking for a spot in the Elite 8.
The joy the NCAA Tournament gives us may last for just a short while, but how sweet it is. It’s only been a few day’s since the one seed in the South, Arizona, edged TCU to wrap up one of the craziest first weekends we ever seen in Big Dance History.
Now it’s time for the Sweet 16, and even though St. Peters and Iowa State may have have busted our bracket, there’s no doubt you’ll be right back in front of the TV for the second weekend of the tourney.
The sixteen teams remaining are a great mix of top seeds, and Cinderllas, legendary programs, and programs looking to create their legacy. Three of the one seeds are still dancing, and 15 seed St. Peter’s is looking to become to the 15 seed to reach the Elite 8.
So let’s get into it. There are four games that await us on Thursday, so let’s preview all four, and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for the preview of the other four games in the Sweet 16.
Gonzaga vs. Arkansas
The top seeded Gonzaga Bulldog’s tip things off against the Arkansas Razorbacks and 6:09 p.m. ET. The Zags have been the number one ranked team in the nation for the majority of the year. Could this finally be the year that Mark Few’s team breaks through and wins the the Title after finishing runners up in two of the last four Final Fours?
Arkansas finished fourth in the SEC after a 27-8 regular season. They squeaked past Vermont in the first round of the tournament. After the four point win they beat New Mexico State by five points in the second round. The Razorbacks have yet to play a single digit seed in the tournament, but will draw the top team in the country, the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Arkansas star guard JD Notae is averaging 18.4 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. Notae had 17 and 7 against Vermont, and 18 against NMSU. He will look to go blow for blow with Drew Timme who is scoring 27.5 points a game in this tournament.
Michigan vs. Villanova
Two former NCAA Champions square off in the second tip off of the night. It’s tough to consider Michigan a Cinderella team in the tournament with their championship pedigree, but they are an 11 seed and we have to call a spade a spade. The Wolverines came up with upsets in both the first and the second round. First over the Colorado State Rams, and then the three seed Tennessee Volunteers.
Villanova finished second in the Big East, and won the conference championship before thumping 15 seed Delaware in the first round of the tourney. They had a tougher test against Ohio State, but Jay Wright’s side held off the Buckeyes to advance to their second straight Sweet 16.
The Wildcats have a well balanced side in which everyone chips in. They have had nine players reach double digits through their first two games. Nova will be watching out for Michigan big man Hunter Dickson averaging 24 points and 8.5 rebounds in the tournament.
Duke vs. Texas Tech
One of the most historic teams with the most historic coach in college basketball are in their 24th Sweet 16 as Duke takes on Texas Tech. The Dukies are constantly in the discussion for title favorites coming into the tourney. This year, Coach Kryzewski and the Blue Devils have a little something extra to motivate them as Coach K has announced he will stepping down at the conclusion of the season. Duke went 30-6 and cruised through he first round against Cal State Fullerton, but had their hands full against Michigan State and legendary coach Tom Izzo.
Texas Tech had a great season out of the Big 12, finishing right behind one seeds Kansas and Baylor. They have out lasted last year’s champs Baylor in this tournament, and are looking to keep their run though the tourney alive after stomping Montana State and then surviving a thriller against Notre Dame.
Red Radiers’ big man Bryson Williams has been the stand out for Texas Tech, averaging 17 points a game in the tournament while the Dukies are loaded with talent from top to bottom. If the Red Raiders can contain Duke forward Paolo Banchero who is averaging 18 a game they will have a good chance of knocking off the Blue Devils.
Arizona vs. Houston
It’s a battle of southwest sluggers as five seed Houston looks to knock off the one seeded Arizona Wildcats. Arizona came into this tournament as one of the favorites to take home the title, but the road to the Sweet 16 hasn’t been as easy many people expected. Wright State kept it closer than the Wildcats might have liked in the first round, and then TCU gave the a real scare when they took Zona to overtime after Dalen Terry’s game winning dunk came a millisecond late. But Christian Koloko and Arizona responded in the final five minutes and secured the win to advance to the next stage of the tournament.
After going to the Final Four last year, Houston fell to that awfully dangerous five seed, and many people thought UAB had a good chance to give them an early exit from the tourney. The Cougars handled their business against the Dragons and earned a date with Illinois in the second round of the Big Dance. Five loss Houston handled the Illini in the second half to ease to a comfortable win and their third straight Sweet 16.
Kyler Edwards is the dangerman for the Cougars, averaging 20 points a game in the Big Dance, while Christian Koloko might be the MVP of the tournament so far averaging 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds a game. The Cougars have the recent experience that could get them past the top seeded Wildcats, watch out I think this will be the game of the night.