After a wild first round we’re left with one of the final 16 teams in this year’s tournament. In the last four days we saw #2 Ohio State and #1 Illinois went down along with many other huge upsets and many teams proving everyone wrong. This has been by far one of the craziest tournaments in recent memory with four double digit seeds making their way to the Sweet 16 while the B1G Ten who was regarded as the best conference all year long is now only left with one team, Michigan, out of the nine that got into the tournament. With 15 more games left in this historic season things are only bound to get even crazier so let’s get into this weekend’s Sweet 16 matchups.
#12 Oregon State Beavers vs #8 Loyola – Chicago Ramblers (-6.5)
This is a really interesting matchup to me because Oregon State has been playing like a top 10 team the last few weeks and they’re either going to burn out or keep things rolling. As for Loyola – Chicago, they have been severely under seeded in this tournament and luckily got out of the second round with a win because now I think this is their region to lose. Loyola should have been a 4 or 5 seed in this tournament. I feel bad for Illinois who had to face a team this good in the second round but small conference teams will never get the respect they deserve. I think the Beavers’ run comes to an end on Saturday and Loyola – Chicago advances to the Elite 8.
#5 Villanova Wildcats vs #1 Baylor Bears (-6.5)
Villanova has proved a lot of people wrong in their last two games beating Winthrop and North Texas, granted they were a 12 and 13 seed but in their last game vs North Texas they played lights out. What Baylor showed vs Wisconsin was very impressive as well proving to everyone that they are back to the Baylor Bears we saw before their COVID pause. Villanova is going to have to play lights out like they did vs North Texas if they want a shot at taking down this Baylor team but I don’t see it happening Baylor wins this game pretty handily.
#15 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs #3 Arkansas Razorbacks (-11)
Who would have ever thought that the matchup of Oral Roberts and Arkansas on December 20 was a Sweet 16 matchup preview, definitely not me! Oral Roberts is the people’s team this year with a school name that gives everyone a good laugh and taking down Ohio State it’s hard to not love this team (especially when you took their Moneyline vs Ohio State) but unfortunately I think this is where their run comes to an end. I think they will keep it close but Arkansas has been so good as of late and with a coach like Eric Musselman who has experience in this tournament I think we see the Razorbacks moving on.
#11 Syracuse Orange vs #2 Houston Cougars (-6.5)
Houston has absolutely zero business being in this game; they were outplayed by Rutgers for 35 minutes and Rutgers unfortunately folded in the final 5 minutes due to lack of coaching experience in this tournament. In my opinion I have no idea how Houston plans to score in this game. We saw what the 2-3 zone can do to teams and with such a lackluster offensive team in Houston this game is going to be all Syracuse from start to finish.
#5 Creighton Bluejays vs #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-13)
As a man who holds a Creighton future it pains me to talk about this game because unless a meteor comes down and lands on Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert Creighton has no chance in this game. It will be a fun high scoring game to watch but I just can’t see any way Gonzaga loses to this team nor to anyone else for that matter.
#4 Florida State Seminoles vs #1 Michigan Wolverines (-3)
Thanks to the referees in the LSU game, Michigan has found its way to the Sweet 16 without Isiah Livers. As for the Seminoles, they have really impressed me the last two games by putting an absolute beating on Colorado on Monday. This is going to be one of the best games in the Sweet 16, as Jon Rothstien would say this game is appointment television on Sunday afternoon. I lean Florida State in this game just because of their speed and length and Michigan still missing Livers but it will definitely be a game to remember.
#11 UCLA Bruins vs #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (-5.5)
At first I really liked Alabama in this game after what they did to Maryland and showed how good they can be when playing at their peak potential. However after seeing the line at only 5.5 it makes me think that Vegas knows something we don’t because I expected it to be around 7-8 points. UCLA did play very good this weekend vs BYU and Abilene Christian but neither of them are comparable to Alabama so I’m going to stick with my gut on Bama.
#7 Oregon Ducks vs #6 USC Trojans (-2)
Like I mentioned before about Loyola – Chicago being severely underseeded the same goes for both of these teams as well but more for Oregon. Putting the Ducks as a 7 seed was completely and clearly wrong after they exposed Iowa. Unfortunately the PAC-12 will never get the respect they deserve but they proved everyone wrong by getting 4 teams to the Sweet 16. I lean USC in this game and unfortunately whoever wins is going to get run out of the gym by Gonzaga but at least they’ll get to play an extra game.
By Andrew Kalb