Round 1 and Round 2 of the 2018 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament are in the books. After the first two rounds of this year’s tourney, only two #1-seeds remain. East Region #1 Villanova made it to the Sweet 16. So did Midwest Region #1 Kansas.
South #1 Virginia fell, incredibly, to #16 UMBC in Round 1. West #1 Xavier lost to Florida State in Round 2. #2 seeds haven’t had the best of times in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament, either. Two #2 seeds, Cincinnati in the South and North Carolina in the West, have already fallen. East Region #2 Purdue and #2 Duke in the Midwest Region made it to the Sweet 16.
Will Villanova, Kansas, Duke, or Purdue head to the Elite Eight and then the Final Four? Or, will the bevy of upsets continue in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight?
March Madness: 2018 Sweet 16 and Elite Eight Picks
I’ve listed my 2018 Sweet 16 winners. I’ve also listed my Elite Eight winners. So that it’s easy for all of you, I’ve listed out my 2018 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament Final Four at the end of the blog.
There’s a lot to cover. Let’s get to it!
Sweet 16 Picks
#11 Loyola-Chicago vs #7 Nevada
The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers’ defense has been unreal in two NCAA Tournament wins. The Ramblers held Miami-FL to 64 points in a 64 to 62 win in Round 1. They held Tennessee to 62 points in a 62 to 63 win. In both games, the Ramblers locked down on Miami’s and Tennessee’s offenses.
Could the Ramblers do the same to Nevada? Nope. Nevada has already faced an amazingly talented defense. The Wolf Pack battled the Cincinnati Bearcats in Round 2. Nevada beat Cincinnati 75 to 73.
#9 Kansas State vs #5 Kentucky
It’s difficult to know how well Kansas State is playing. The K-State Wildcats dominated the Creighton Bluejays 69 to 59 as a 2-point dog. In Round 2, Kansas State beat UMBC 50 to 43. The Wildcats beat a decent team in UMBC. I’m not sure how great the win over Creighton was. Only one Big East team remains in the tournament, the Villanova Wildcats.
Kentucky supposedly had an easier march to the Sweet 16. Beating Davidson 78 to 73 wasn’t bad. Dominating Buffalo 95 to 75 a couple of days after Buffalo shocked the University of Arizona 89 to 68 was super impressive. The Kentucky Wildcats have now won 5 in a row.
Kentucky’s hot. Not only that, but this is classic John Calipari. He has a way of getting UK to improve in the SEC Basketball Tournament, and then to really improve in March Madness.
#7 Texas A&M vs #3 Michigan
Michigan’s offense hasn’t been that great during the tournament. The Wolverines beat Montana 61 to 47. They beat Houston 61 to 43. Michigan is a good team.
But, I don’t see them stopping the red hot Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies dominated #2-seed North Carolina 86 to 65 behind a barrage of three-pointers. When the Aggies hit their three-pointers, they’re almost impossible to beat. The reason why is because A&M has a great front court.
Pick: Texas A&M
#9 Florida State vs #4 Gonzaga
I wish I could pick Florida State in this match up. I like Gonzaga. I’m just not a massive fan the way that so many other west coast living college basketball fans are. FSU plays hard. They’re a tough team.
Unfortunately, the Seminoles are in over their heads versus Gonzaga in this matchup. Gonzaga continues to get better while Florida State played their top game of the tournament when they beat the Xavier Musketeers.
I’m siding with the Zags to move on to the Elite Eight.
#5 Clemson vs #1 Kansas
Sure, Kansas is one of the last remaining #1 seeds in the tournament. I get that. The Jayhawks have looked pretty good as well in the NCAA College Basketball Tournament. Then again, KU hasn’t faced a team quite like Clemson.
Clemson’s Round 2 win over Auburn was legit. Clemson destroyed Auburn 84 to 53. I don’t see the Kansas Jayhawks doing enough to slow down the Clemson Tigers. I think Clemson gets the “W”.
#11 Syracuse vs #2 Duke
Duke beat Syracuse 60 to 44 during the regular season. What’s interesting about that game is that Syracuse only shot 6 free throws. The game took place at Duke, which makes sense.
So far in the NCAA Tournament, the Cuse has shot 15 free throws, making 12, and 31 free throws, making 24. The Orange are dumping the ball into the paint. They’re daring teams to stop their bigs. Can Duke stop Syracuse’s bigs without fouling? I don’t think so.
Syracuse makes it 3 wins in a row in the NCAA Tournament.
#5 West Virginia vs #1 Villanova
West Virginia’s biggest strength is also its biggest issue in the match up with the Villanova Wildcats in the Sweet 16. The Mountaineers love to play 40 minutes of hell. The problem with playing 40 minutes of hell against Villanova is that Nova starts three guards. Every single one of Nova’s guards can dribble and break West Virginia’s press.
This game could get out of hand if WVU sticks to their full court press. Nova might be up by 20 at halftime.
#3 Texas Tech vs #2 Purdue
Purdue survived Butler 76 to 73 without center Isaac Haas. One of the reasons why is because Vince Edwards scored 20 points. That’s not good news for Purdue or its fans. Edwards is an inside player, meaning that Purdue didn’t switch things up to beat Butler.
Because Purdue’s guards will be non-existent against Texas Tech, I believe the Boilermakers NCAA Tournament run is over in the Sweet 16. The Red Raiders should have an easy time of it versus the Boilermakers.
Pick: Texas Tech
Elite Eight Picks
#7 Nevada vs #5 Kentucky
Nevada is a decent team. Kentucky is en fuego. I don’t think Nevada does enough to keep Kentucky from scoring over 80. That means the Wildcats win. They could beat the Wolf Pack by 20 if this match up happens.
South Region Winner: Kentucky
#7 Texas A&M vs #4 Gonzaga
Again, I don’t hate Gonzaga. I’m just not a rabid fan. Texas A&M blew my bracket because I had Providence upsetting North Carolina in Round 2, not the Aggies. For some reason, A&M has turned around their three-point shooting. I don’t think it ends in the Elite Eight.
Gonzaga will put up a fight. But, A&M’s hot three-point shooting and better inside game will lead to a win in the Elite Eight. Not bad for a team that was on the bubble less than a month ago, right?
West Region Winner: Texas A&M
#5 Clemson vs #11 Syracuse
This will be the most intriguing match up in the Elite Eight if Clemson and Syracuse get out of the Sweet 16. Clemson and Syracuse are both ACC teams. Clemson lost 52 to 55 the last time they battled Syracuse. That’s a really bad sign for the Clemson Tigers if this match up happens this weekend.
The reason is because, if anything, Syracuse has become much better playing Jim Boeheim’s legendary zone defense. If Clemson couldn’t beat Syracuse’s defense during the regular season, how the heck is Clemson going to beat the Cuse’s defense in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament?
That’s right. They aren’t.
Midwest Region Winner: #11 Syracuse
#3 Texas Tech vs #1 Villanova
Don’t sleep on the Red Raiders. Villanova couldn’t ask for a worse match up if, somehow, I’m right on the Red Raiders facing the Nova Wildcats this weekend in the Elite Eight.
Texas Tech’s guards, Jarrett Culver and Keenan Evans, are two of the best guards left in the NCAA Tournament. What it means is that Villanova’s main strength, their 3-guard starting lineup, might find some trouble versus Culver and Evans.
How much trouble remains to be seen, right? I do believe that at the end, Jay Wright’s unreal coaching skills get Villanova into the Final Four.
East Region Winner: Villanova
2018 Final Four
South Region: Kentucky
West Region: Texas A&M
Midwest Region: Syracuse
East Region: Villanova
There you have it! My Sweet 16 and Elite Eight predictions. Get ready for some fireworks if what’s above indeed turns out to be the 2018 March Madness Final Four.