Sweet 16 Record: 5-3
Seed Numbers in front of teams
No.3 Texas Tech (29-6) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (33-3)
Honda Center, Anaheim, CA. 18,336
5:09 PM CT
Gonzaga by 4 1/2
I picked against Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 opting for Florida State, but I missed that one. They played some terrific defense against the Noles and they really know how to score. The Red Raiders bring some serious defense to this game, but so does Gonzaga, and they’re a better on offense than Tech. Going with Bama Golf, who has Gonzaga winning it all. He could be right.
Gonzaga 65, Texas Tech 60
No.3 Purdue (26-9) vs. No.1 Virginia (32-3)
KFC Yumi Center, Louisville, KY. 22,090
7:49 PM CT
UVA by 4 1/2
Purdue is quite an offensive juggernaut with the great Carsen Edwards, who scored 29 points on Thursday in a 99-94 overtime victory over Tennessee. But maybe the bigger story was the shooting of Ryan Cline, who was 7 of 10 from 3 and scored 27 points before fouling out. Cline connected on big shot after big shot. It was miraculous shooting really.
With that said, I’m still bullish on this UVA team. Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter are 3 of the top trios in college basketball. And UVA plays some serious defense. I like the Cavs’ defense to hold Purdue enough in check and for Guy, Jerome and Hunter to make the shots to get Virginia to the Final Four, finally, after years of having excellent teams that fall just short.
Virginia 70, Purdue 64
No.5 Auburn (29-9) vs. No.1 Kentucky (30-6)
Sprint Center, Kansas City 18,972
1:20 PM CT
Kentucky by 3
I doubted Auburn yesterday mainly because I picked UNC to win it all.I knew it would be a hard fought game and Auburn would be tough to defeat. Auburn proved they were hard to defeat and then some laying it on the Tar Heels, 97-80. Auburn is a phenomenal team. Even with the loss of Chuma Okeke, who is out for the rest of the tournament with a serious knee injury suffered last night after he was dominating scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 boards, I still believe in this team. Okeke is definitely a blow, but the depth of the talent is still there. Danjel Purifoy, Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore filled in admirably and played terrifically well. The whole team did. Okeke’s loss is very tough because not only is he a spectacular player, but he’s also such an awesome teammate and person. The team loves him. Bruce Pearl was visibly upset after the game in saying that Okeke’s knee injury was most likely serious.
But sometimes that works to a team’s advantage. They play even harder for their injured teammate. I see the Tigers playing inspired ball. J’Von McCormick played some awesome minutes coming off the bench for the Tigers finishing with 12. Samir Doughty is an awesome player. Malik Dunbar is as well. And, of course, Jared Harper and Bryce Brown give some supreme marksmanship from trifecta, along with a lot of the other guys. But those guys are gunslingers and they’re accurate from deep and very deep.
Kentucky is an excellent team, they’ve already beaten the Tigers twice this season including a shellacking at Rupp. But it’s extremely hard to defeat a team 3 times in a season, and I’m ridin with the Tigers to move on to the program’s first Final Four. Like Auburn to go to Minneapolis.
Auburn 78, Kentucky 76
No.2 Michigan State (31-6) vs. No.1 Duke (32-5)
Capital One Arena, DC, 20,356
4:05 PM CT
Duke by 1 1/2
Duke has been getting by barely by the skin of their teeth in the round of 32 versus Central Florida, 77-76, when a tip in by UCF as time expired rolled around the rim and impossibly fell out. Then against Virginia Tech last night, an inbounds play in the last seconds gave VA Tech a tip in opportunity as well, but it just missed too which would have sent the game into overtime,. Duke won 75-73.
I see Duke’s luck running out here. Tom Izzo and stellar point guard Cassius Winston knock the Blue Devils off.