0

Sweet Nothings – Thoughts on the Sweet 16 and Beyond

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.43.50 PM

It’s been an interesting and unpredictable tournament, as per usual. But instead of looking back and reflecting on my tattered bracket or cry about my beloved Big East, I’m going to take my doctor’s advice and look ahead to what could and should be.

We are left with sixteen teams that have won two games in this tournament, but those two games are the equivalent of about 25 regular season games in today’s day and age, just ask Villanova and their 33 (meaningless?) wins.

Oops, I’m dwelling on the past again. It’s not so easy to move forward and I have no idea how to play the piccolo.

Anyway, we are left with plenty of potentially good basketball to watch and talk about. Here’s what’s got me thinking…

Kentucky will finally be tested. Maybe.

After getting through the first weekend relatively unscathed (Cincinnati provided a challenge in a football kind of way), this is the weekend where Kentucky will finally at least get a scare.

Or, is it?

West Virginia could present an interesting challenge, but it would be more of a surprise if they pushed Kentucky than it would be if the Wildcats rolled over yet another opponent.

A match-up with either Wichita State or Notre Dame in the Elite Eight would look a little sexier on paper, but neither seems to have the size, depth, or depth of size to truly threaten Kentucky on a neutral court.

Wisconsin and Arizona look to be on the collision course most predicted.

The Badgers and Cats have not disappointed and both are strong favorites to meet the other in the West Regional Final. However, don’t count on either of them getting there easily.

North Carolina can play with anyone in the country, and with or without Kennedy Meeks (questionable with a knee injury), the Tar Heels should give Bo Ryan’s squad a run for their money.

Xavier won’t be a cake walk for Arizona, either. The Musketeers have the size and girth to compete with the Wildcats on the blocks and Chris Mack’s squad will have no fear, it’s not in their DNA.

Ultimately though, the top two seeds should prevail and link up for what will be a much-anticipated thriller in L.A.

Izzo and Pitino invade the East.

College basketball is rightfully known as a coach’s game and no two coaches exemplify that more than Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino.

Neither Michigan State nor Louisville was expected to do much in this tournament, but neither should have been counted out, either. Both coaches have perfected the art of getting the most out of their teams late in the season and now both are hogging all of the attention in the East region.

College basketball writers’ heads might collectively explode if these two were to advance and meet in the Elite Eight. However, there’s another great coach in the region, one with a better team than either of the aforementioned legends has, Lon KrugerĀ could be the one dancing on to Indianapolis when the weekend comes to an end.

Now’s the time for Gonzaga.

I’m a little tired of people annually getting on the Zags about not being able to win the big one, or not being able to complete the simple task of reaching a Final Four.

Mark Few must be exhausted.

Heading into this Sweet 16, Few must be able to taste the cold wet air of Indianapolis.

First, Gonzaga must take care of UCLA, a team playing much better than they were in December, but let’s not go overboard with Steve Alford’s crew.

I’ve gotten over UCLA slipping in through the Tournament’s back door, but you’re not going to convice me that two wins a season makes. One of those wins came over a solid, but unspectacular SMU squad who lacked a legitimate good win; and the other was against the fifth best regular season team in Conference USA (see my earlier Villanova rant).

Anyway, there is also that team from Durham in the Zags’ way, but that’s a pretty even match-up on paper and it’s about time Mark Few & company won one of those.

 

 

Follow Jamal Murphy on Twitter: @Blacketologist

Jamal Murphy