In my previous article, I previewed the South and Midwest region. Today I will be previewing the West and East region of the bracket.
Creighton vs Gonzaga
Will the heavyweights Gonzaga continue their perfect season or will Creighton, a team that many had pegged as a first round exit, defeat the giants?
If Creighton can take anything away from the Oklahoma game, it’s to play fast and get shots up and hope your offense can keep you in the game. The score didn’t do Oklahoma justice as they were much closer than the score shows. Creighton has the formula to this. They rank seventh in the tournament for total threes attempted this season and on averaged they score 76 points per game, with all starters averaging double digits. They are gonna have to shoot the ball, more efficiently than they have been this tournament if they want to keep pace with Alabama.
Gonzaga is the best team in the nation for a reason. They have three all americans in Jalen Suggs, Drew Timme and Corey Kispert that you have to worry about. They can score from anywhere in the court and we saw how the game opened up against Oklahoma when Drew Timme was dominating inside.
Creighton doesn’t have a player over 6 foot 7 and Drew Timme stands at 6 foot 10. I expect another big performance from him en route to another elite 8 appearance for the Bulldogs.
Creighton 60 – 76 Gonzaga
Florida State vs Michigan
Can Michigan keep the Big 10 afloat in the tourney or will Florida State deliver the knockout punch?
Florida State limited a Colorado team that scored 96 points in the first round to just 53 points on 35.7% shooting from the field and 24% from the three. This is a great defensive team. In the first round 0-9 from three, but their defense led them to a 10 point victory. They are a very efficient scoring team with majority of their scoring coming from the paint and with their size and length, they are going to create a lot of matchup problems.
Michigan needs to force turnovers. Michigan only forced three turnovers in their last game and Florida State has had 15 turnovers in each of their tournament games. Michigan took blow after blow from LSU but a late run put together from a hot shooting streak and great defense sealed the win. Michigan has shot the ball well this tournament and can open this game wide open if their three ball falls like it did against LSU.
In the end, the winner of this game will come down to who dominates the paint.
Florida State 65 – 68 Michigan
UCLA vs Alabama
UCLA defied the odds to reach the Sweet 16, defeating Michigan Sate, BYU and Abilene Christian while Alabama looks like its getting hot at the right time.
UCLA has been willed to the Sweet 16 by Johnny Juzang, who has been playing a great tournament. They played great defensively against ACU and BYU, holding them to 21.1% and 17.6% respectively from three, which is Alabama’s play style. UCLA will need to win the battle on the boards has a rebound margin of +37 this tournament.
Alabama suffered a scare against Iona, but a late run sealed a win for them. Alabama played some of their best basketball against Maryland as they shot 53% from the field and 48.5% from three along with out rebounding Maryland 40-19. They set an NCAA tournament record with 16 made three point shots against Maryland as well. Alabama has ten or more offensive rebounds in 12 of their last 13 games. Against a UCLA team that has allowed opponents to shoot around 25% from three, Alabama has to get Herb Jones going early to open up the three point line.
In a high scoring affair, I do not think UCLA can keep up with Alabama
UCLA 62 – 77 Alabama
Oregon vs USC
The battle of the two heavyweight Pac 12 school commences in the Sweet 16. In their one meetup this season, Oregon lost to USC 72-58.
This Duck’s team is fun to watch. Oregon shot over 52% from the field for the fifth time this season. Although Luke Garza scored 36 points, Oregon game plan to limit Iowa’s three ball won them this game. I do not see a universe where USC shoots 61% from the three again. If Oregon can get their shots up early(15-1 when making eight or more threes) and force USC to play from behind, Oregon should easily win this game.
USC played arguably their best game of the season against Kansas. They shot 57.1% from the field and 61.1% from the three while limiting Kansas to shooting 29% from the field and 24% from the three. Free throws continue to be a problem for this team but haven’t hurt them in this tournament. USC smothering defense held Oregon to 58 points also time these two teams met. USC is 17-2 when allowing seven or fewer threes. If this game becomes a battle in the paint, USC should win this game.
If this game becomes an offensive fight, Oregon wins. If it’s a scrappy defensive game, USC wins.
Oregon 70 – 73 USC