Sweet 16 preview for Friday 25 March | NCAA Tournament
The Sweet 16 started off with a bang on Thursday as one seeds Gonzaga and Arizona fell. The remaining one seed, Kansas, will look to survive on Friday.
Thursday gave us a first day of the Sweet 16 to remember and the Madness continues on Friday as eight teams look for the final four spots in the next round.
One thing is for sure, there will be a double digit seed out of the Midwest in the next round of the tournament, while two titans of college basketball square off in the East.
Purdue vs. Saint Peter’s
This year’s Cinderella story will be put to the sword in the opening tip off to start Friday night’s slate. There’s probably no need to introduce the Peacocks of St. Peter’s after their meteoric rise to national visibility. They now have a chance to become the first 15 seed in tourney history make the Elite 8.
With a 21-11 record the Peacocks weren’t going to get an at large bid, which means they have been facing elimination since the first round of the MAAC Tournament. After beating Monmouth in the final of the conference championship they faced up against NCAA Tournament giants Kentucky. They took the Wildcats to overtime, and finished the extra session on a 14-4 run to advance to the second round of the Big Dance. Their second win came against Murray St. and it was another game that went down to the wire, but the Peacocks held on to become the third 15 seed to get to the Sweet 16.
Purdue lost to Iowa in the final of the Big 10 Championship after a seven loss season in which they were in the Top 15 for much of the year. Their regular season resumé earned them a three seed, and the Boilermakers mopped up Yale in the first round of the Tournament. Their second round match up was much tighter but Jaden Ivy hit a huge three with a minute to go to seal Purdue’s ticket to the Sweet 16.
Jaden Ivey could be a lottery pick in the draft. He’s averaging 20 points a game in the tournament and St. Peter’s will have to be wary of the Purdue scorer. Daryl Banks III scored 27 in the Peacock’s first game, and Doug Edert has proved he can hit big shots late in the game for St Peter’s.
Kansas vs. Providence
Big 12 Champions Kansas are always among the favorites to lift the title in the month of March but they will be going up against a tough Providence side that won the regular season in the Big East.
The Friars were seeded 4th in the Midwest, and drew San Diego State in the first round of the tournament. While the game was close throughout, Providence kept SDSU at a comfortable distance for most of the second half until the lead was cut within three points in the final two minutes of the game. After holding off the Aztecs they went up against a tough Richmond team that had already upset Iowa in the first round. Providence were up by thirty at one point and cruised to victory, but after playing two double digit seeds the Jayhawks await.
Kansas is the one seed in the Midwest, and for good reason. They have lost just six games all season winning the Big 12 regular season and conference championship. The boys from Phog Allen steamrolled Texas Southern in the first round, but Creighton made them sweat it out until the final minute.
Remy Martin has been the leader for Kansas’ well balanced attack. The Jayhawks had five players in double digits in the first round, and four against Creighton. The Friars will have to keep Kansas’ scorers quiet, something that they have done well so far in the tourney. They are allowing just 54 points a game.
UCLA vs. UNC
What a historic matchup we have to start off the late tips as legendary programs UCLA and UNC face off in the East region.
UCLA is looking to get back to the Final Four for a second straight year, but they will have to get through the Tar Heels first. UCLA came into the tournament as a four seed after finishing second in the Pac-12. The Bruins struggled to get by Akron in the opening round. They trailed for most of the game and were down as many as eight with eight minutes left. They battled back and beat the Zips by four earning a date with Saint Mary’s. UCLA cruised past the Gaels with much more ease in the 16 point win to punch their ticket in the Sweet 16.
The Tar Heels are coming off a stunning game in which they almost let a 24 point second half lead slip through their fingers against the top seed in the East. After being taken to overtime the the Heels responded by holding off the Baylor comeback bid. Before that they played Marquette in an 8 vs. 9 matchup in a game that was expected to be much tighter, but UNC beat them by almost 30.
UCLA’s duo of Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell have already led their side to the Sweet 16 and beyond and will be looking to do it again against the Brady Manek who is averaging 27 and 8 rebounds in the tournament.
Miami vs. Iowa State.
If it wasn’t for St. Peter’s, the final tip off on Friday would be getting all the attention as the Cinderella matchup in the tournament. One thing is for sure, a 10 or 11 seed will be in the Elite 8 at the conclusion of the Miami vs. Iowa State game.
Miami crashed out of the ACC tournament to Duke after finishing fourth in the conference during the regular season. The 10th seeded Hurricanes took down 7 seed USC in game played on a razor’s edge in the first round. Charlie Moore hit two clutch free throws to lock up a spot in the second round. Then rolled through the two seed Auburn Tigers 79-61 to book their trip to the Sweet 16.
Iowa State have squeaked by with narrow victories in both of the first two rounds of the tournament. First up was LSU, who played the Cyclones close for forty minutes, but Iowa State gave up the lead just once all night, when it was 5-4 early in the first half. Iowa State then played an even first half against Wisconsin, but used a 9-0 run at the beginning of the second half to take the lead and keep the lead, earning them the right to play in the Sweet 16.
Isaiah Wong is Miami’s top performer in the Tournament at 21.5 points per game, while Iowa State’s duo of Tyrese Hunter and Gabe Kalscheur have been guiding the defensive minded cyclones through the tournament.