The Mirador Analyzes March Madness Sweet 16 Matchups

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Mark D. Smith/USA Today

Kansas Guard Devonte’ Graham (4) defends the ball against a lurking Oklahoma defender. The Kansas Jayhawks have been dominating thus far in the tournament. They battle Maryland tonight for a right to advance to the Elite Eight.

Jacob Thomas and Xavier Clark, Staff Writers

We are officially in the middle of March Madness, and sorry to those who picked Michigan State as their champion. The Sweet Sixteen is the destination for many lower-seed teams that continue to bust brackets, as well as the expectation for teams that are built to win a championship.

Kansas vs Maryland:                                         

Kansas (1): The Jayhawks have met everyone’s expectations to beat Austin Peay and Uconn in convincing fashion. In both games, senior forward Perry Ellis dropped 21 points. If Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. keep playing well, I don’t see a team beating them anytime soon.                                                    

Maryland 5:   Maryland matched up against Hawaii in the Round of 32. Hawaii came up with a huge upset against third-seeded California. The Terrapins are led by NBA prospect Melo Trimble, who notched a total of 43 points through the first two contests. Look for Maryland to come out shooting the three and crashing the glass.

Prediction: Kansas 81 Maryland 72                                    

Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M:

Oklahoma 2: The Sooners barely squeaked by VCU in the Round of 32, only winning by four points. Buddy Hield has carried Oklahoma all year and, if a team shuts him down, I don’t like their chances. In late game situations, they have relied on him too much and he ends up getting double-teamed. Players like Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard will need to step up.  

Texas A&M 3: What a barn burner that was in Oklahoma City against Northern Iowa! The Aggies overcame a historic 12-point comeback in the last 35 seconds. That goes to show how much the seniors mean to this team. Senior Alex Caruso led the charge to guide his team to the Round of 16. Watch for the Aggies to continue shock the world.

Prediction Texas A&M 67 Oklahoma 63

Duke vs. Oregon:

Oregon 1: The Oregon Ducks have peaked after their regular season. Oregon has done a great job using their fast-paced athleticism, and not overdoing it. However, athletic teams like Baylor and Cal have taken early exits from the tourney. The onslaught of talent that Oregon brings to the table could give Duke trouble, if the Ducks don’t turn the ball over too much.

Duke 4: Led by Grayson Allen and future lottery pick Brandon Ingram, the Blue Devils have a favorable matchup against Oregon. Duke averages 82 points a game, good enough for 17th in the nation. The Ducks give up an average of 69 points a game, coming in at 107th in the nation. I don’t see the Ducks matching up well with this Duke team that fills up the scoreboard like Blue Devils traditionally have.

Prediction: Duke 76 Oregon 71  

Syracuse vs Gonzaga:

Syracuse 10: Many thought The Orange were not even supposed to be in the tourney, but they have proved the doubters wrong. Duke transfer Michael Gbinije has showcased his versatility with his range and inside scoring. Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone has rattled teams. Both Dayton and Middle Tennessee were held under 52 points. Once again, Boeheim’s zone is long and lengthy.  Freshman Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon will be their X-factors in this matchup.

Gonzaga 11: The Bulldogs of Gonzaga have been looked down upon all year, and they have used that to their advantage. Gonzaga has been strictly dominant through their tournament run with routs over Utah and Seton Hall. Big Men Donatas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer have carried this team and Eric McClellan has started to make his mark in college basketball.

Prediction: Syracuse 63 Gonzaga: 59

North Carolina vs Indiana:

North Carolina 1: This game is setting up to be one for the ages: a vintage North Carolina and Indiana matchup. Leading the Tar Heels is double-double machine Bryce Johnson. He has the classic length that trademarks great Tar Heels from the past. Two-way guard Marcus Paige has also caught his stride and has been shooting the ball better than ever.

Indiana 5: Behind the sharp shooting and playmaking of Yogi Ferrell, the Hoosiers can upset a team like North Carolina. Ferrell is valuable to the Hoosiers, not just because of his scoring but also because he can get his teammates involved. Indiana has four or five guys who can come off the bench and knock down the three.

Prediction: North Carolina 85 Indiana 80    

Notre Dame vs Wisconsin

Notre Dame 6: The Irish have quietly gotten to the Sweet 16 behind Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste. Auguste, the 6-10-foot, 240-pound senior, has bullied opponents inside. This Irish team is one of the classic Notre Dame teams that like to slow down the game and play in the half court.  

Wisconsin 7: After a last second buzzer beater by Bronson Koenig, the Wisconsin Badgers look ready for the Sweet 16. Wisconsin is led in scoring by junior Nigel Hayes, who has been a consistent bright spot for the Badgers in recent years. The well-coached Badgers look to continue their run in the Round of 16.

Prediction: Wisconsin 66 Notre Dame 58

Miami vs Villanova:                                          

Villanova 2: Villanova is another team that is looking dangerous at the moment, beating opponents by an average of 20.5 points a game. The Wildcats are a well-balanced team, and every player in their starting five has averaged over 10 points per game in the tournament.    

Miami 3: The historically unreliable Hurricanes have proven that they can indeed be reliable over the course of the NCAA tournament this year. They have guys that have proven they can step up in big moments. Guard Angel Rodriguez has been streaky all season, but has been the Hurricanes’ most consistent option in the tournament so far, averaging 26 points per game.

Prediction: Villanova 71 Miami 68

Virginia vs Iowa St:

Virginia 1: The Cavaliers’ defense have earned them a number one seed and their defense will have to continue to dominate if they want to win a national championship. Other than Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia is a bunch of no-names. However, they embrace it and pride themselves on defense. Virginia’s lineup presents two elite defenders, including London Perrantes and Anthony Gill. Perrantes is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country.      

Iowa St. 4: Iowa State is back to the tourney and hasn’t been upset yet—which has been a big shocker to most people who follow the tournament. Iowa State is more experienced than ever, led by a dominant senior class in Georges Niang, Abdel Nader, and Jameel McKay. Niang doesn’t get enough credit for the versatility he brings to the table. If this team comes out ready to play, they could give the Cavaliers a run for their money.

Prediction: Virginia 75 Iowa St 73