By Stefan Anderson
Now that the first two rounds have been completed and some teams have seen their fate and some have seen their promise and steps closers as tonight’s Sweet 16 matchups begin. Since the beginning of this year tournament, there have been many storylines that we have paid attention to and will learn more about as time passes by.
Here are some to look at for the Sweet 16:
The Miller Brothers: At the beginning of the season we knew that this year’s Arizona team was going to special and most favorite for the National Championship, including myself. But no one expected the emergence of Dayton after knocking off Ohio State and then Syracuse become the nation’s Cinderella team. Dayton is on the brink of having a legendary run and with an amazing storyline of the Miller brothers, Archie and Sean. The Miller Brother could face off their superior teams and make for the one of the best final four matchups in years.
Most Intriguing Matchup:
Eastern Bracket: Virginia vs. Michigan State: The Cavaliers have rounded out their best seasons in the past twenty years, by playing great defense and continuing to outplay any opponent given to them. Michigan State has looked shaky at times this season due to injuries and chemistry but the Spartans turned it around and have been on track towards holding up the National Championship at the end of the tournament. Virginia intense defense and ability to turn on the “switch” versus the poised, veteran Michigan State team should be a interesting one and could determine who wins the National Championship.
The Kentucky Rivalry: In the Midwest Bracket, Calipari vs. Pitino, the young Wildcats versus the well-seasoned national champions Cardinals, should a great matchup to see. After beating the hottest team in the NCAA, Wichita State, they have to face the defending National Championship next. Kentucky after their highly publicized season are living up to the hype of their standout freshman have a chance to prove doubters wrong and make a lot of people mad if they knock off the defending champions. But the Cardinals haven’t lost the beat this season as they continue to tally up wins and play their high speed pace along with their annoying defense which can be a concern for the young Kentucky guards. If the Wildcats can deal with the non-stop full court press and the guard play of Russ Smith, they have a chance. This has the making of great matchup of who is the best in their state.
Upset Alert: After making it to the National Championship last year the Wolverines of Michigan are trying to repeat their success this year and have teams in their way and could be upset by Tennessee. Michigan led by a talented roster that features Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas and Glen Robinson III, are poised to make a big run, but I believe they will be the next powerhouse to be upset in this year’s tournament. The Volunteers play in rough SEC divison, where they finished 3rd despite taking their bumps and bruises against the Kentucky’s and Florida’s. The Vols play some of the stingiest D in the nation only allowing 61 points a game and should give a the Michigan a problem led by Jarnell Stokes who is cleaning the glass with 3 consecutive games in double digit rebounding. Watch out for the upset.
Draft Stock: My bold prediction in which many might stone me for but I believe that Julius Randle should be selected before Andrew Wiggins, if they both declare for the draft this season. My reasons are that Randle despite his teams struggles at time has always remained a outstanding prospect averaging 15 and 10 looking the most NBA ready other Jabari Parker and Doug McDermott. Out of all the outstanding freshman and great players this season, Randle still is in the tournament and plays a play on a talented team. After entering the tournament with 19 and 15 against Kansas State then returning the following game with 13, 10 and 6 versus a great Wichita State team, Randle has proved that he is beyond NBA ready. With the skill set of already polished big man in the league and the ability to handle the ball along with knock the 15 footer, there is no doubt that he should be a top -2 pick in this year’s draft.
Although no has a perfect bracket and cannot qualify for the 1 billion dollars, Warren Buffett has put out there, thanks to Duke, there are still many chances for you to win your bracket challenges hopefully your bracket is still intact after those heartbreaking losses. Tune into some great basketball games during the Sweet 16 games, which will be interesting to say the least.