My 10 predictions for the Sweet 16/Elite Eight

Price1It’s been a long week. Mostly because I’ve begun to have trouble sleeping. Nerves have fully set-in with Kentucky remaining undefeated and of course still alive as the hunted in the Sweet 16, which gets going tonight and continues tomorrow.

I didn’t expect it nor do I think it’s possible for a team to go 40-0 in my lifetime. And still don’t, even with the Cats on the cusp at 36-0. Sure, I picked UK in my bracket, not because they’re my team but because I just don’t know who will be the first and only to knock them off. This weekend will be tougher and more pressure-packed for UK to get thru than if they’re able to advance to the Final Four.

Four more fun-full days of college basketball begins again this evening, as four teams will punch their ticket to the Final Four in Indianapolis, starting Saturday and finishing Sunday afternoon in the Elite Eight.

So it got me thinking and here are my 10 predictions for the Sweet 16/Elite Eight:

1.) Kentucky is tested by West Virginia tonight before pulling away to win by a dozen points. Teams have flirted with it for a half this season and Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers will be the next “almost.” But like the others who tried and failed, WVU will get worn down by UK’s length and depth before falling.

2.) A UK-Wichita State Midwest Regional Final. The Shockers are playing outstanding basketball and I expect Gregg Marshall’s team to land a date with destiny and a matchup with UK in the regional final. The basketball gods will be all over this one. Remember the Cats upset then undefeated-Wichita last year in the Round of 32. The shoe will be on the other foot this time…could the Shockers play the spoiler?

3.) One thing synonymous with March is Tom Izzo and the Sweet 16. Almost as much as Tom Izzo in the Final Four. Izzo’s Michigan State team pulled one of the biggest upsets in the Tournament so far last weekend, beating No. 2 seed Virginia at its own game…tough defense. We knew the East Region was up for grabs and could get wild. The affable coach is anything but wild except on the court at times, which is where Sparty advances past Oklahoma and the Louisville-N.C. State winner en route to Indy.

4.) Gonzaga will throttle UCLA back to Westwood and into the Elite Eight in a matchup against Duke that I’m dying to see. The Zags have size inside, perimeter shooting and experienced guard play led by Canadian Kevin Pangos. If Gonzaga lands in Mark Few’s first-ever Final Four as head coach like I’ve predicted, Pangos will be the one to take them there.

5). N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried will screw something up for the Wolfpack. I joke often that Gottfried is good for at least 6-8 points for the opposing team almost every time out because of his boneheaded coaching decisions. Luckily this Pack squad has plenty of talent (that Gottfried personally assembled) to withstand those dumb decisions and get past an offensively-challenged Louisville team.

6.) By halftime tonight, we’ll all be sick of the Sean Miller coaching against his former team Xavier storyline. We know Miller left Cincy for Tucson. We also know current Xavier head coach Chris Mack and Miller are close friends. But spare us this one guys and call us an exciting game, something I don’t think we’re going to get.

7.) Frank the Tank’s mojo and game wins out tonight against the Tar Heels’ size. Despite an up-and-down finish to the regular season, UNC has finally found some mojo of its own, thanks to freshman shooting guard Justin Jackson scoring in double figures in 10 of the last-11 games. With Kennedy Meeks doubtful tonight, Brice Johnson is likely to get the assignment on Kaminsky. But it won’t matter as the 7-footer and Wisky are on a collision course against Arizona in the West Regional Final.

8.) Utah senior Delon Wright is a stat-sheet stuffer, who’ll show why he’s the top point guard in the country tonight. At 6-foot-5, he’ll be a matchup nightmare for Duke’s smaller backcourt of Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook. The problem for the Utes is they don’t have an animal inside big enough to contain Duke frosh Jahlil Okafor, which is the sole reason why Utah and Wright will fall to the Blue Devils.

9.) The pair of regional finals I expect between No. 1 and No. 2 seeds (Wisconsin vs. Arizona and Duke vs. Gonzaga) will give us a pair of must-see games Saturday and Sunday. And two games where both No. 2 seeds win and advance to the Final Four.

10.) Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter will be TV gold, while working as an guest analyst for CBS, TBS and TNT over the next four days. He’s not likely to issue any in-studio challenge to Barkley on the on-set basketball goal with his torn achilles. However, we’re virtually all guaranteed to smile at a coach who loves life and the game. Christmas in March? We’ve got it. Thank you CBS!

Will they all happen? Heck no. Maybe even half? Doubtful. But no matter what it’ll be four exciting days of college basketball!

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