The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the rear-view mirror. A great four-day stretch of basketball allowed lower-seeded teams to challenge in the always crazy first and second rounds. The biggest surprise? The 15-seeded St Peter’s Peacocks battled to defeat Kentucky in the Round of 64.
A quick recap of the weekend; Baylor caught a red-hot North Carolina team and got sent packing in the Round of 32. Arizona battled TCU for a spot in the Sweet 16, eventually making it past a pesky Horned Frogs squad in overtime. With just three No.1 seeds remaining, will any see the light of the Elite 8? Here are storylines to keep an eye out for during Thursday and Friday’s games.
Defense Will Shine to Begin the Weekend
Defense is a major key for some teams remaining in the tournament. Houston, Arkansas, Villanova, Texas Tech, and Iowa State are all defensive sound teams, making the games on Thursday and Friday intense. Offensive playmaking is important as ever in some of the matchups.
The three best defenses to watch during the Sweet 16 are Texas Tech, Houston, and Iowa State. All three games are must-watch matchups. Iowa State versus Miami is intriguing because of the dominance of the Hurricane guards.
Low Seeds Try to Steal the Moment
Four double-digit seeds remain in this year’s NCAA tournament. Out of the four, Michigan and Miami rank in the top-20 in KenPom AdjO. Iowa State and St Peter’s are not elite offensively, but their defenses are top-notch. As the Cyclones showed us versus Wisconsin, defense wins games.
The cool thing about this weekend is Iowa State and Miami will face off on Friday at 8:59 pm CDT. For the second year in a row, at least one double-digit seed will make the Elite Eight.
How Many One Seeds Will Remain?
The biggest storyline of the Sweet 16 will be the No. 1 seeds and their matchups. Out of the three one seeds, Arizona has the toughest matchup. Houston has the size down low to keep up with the Wildcats. Josh Carlton will be a key defender to try and contain Christan Koloko. This should shape up to be the best game of the three, maybe even the whole Sweet 16.
Kansas faces Providence in a game where the guard play will shine. The big difference for both teams will be their big men. David McCormack and Nate Watson will need to try and extend possessions by attacking the offensive glass. Both should get plenty of touches.
Finally, Gonzaga gets a showdown with the Arkansas Razorbacks. There’s everything to love about Drew Timme going up against Jaylin Willams. The difference, though, will be out on the perimeter. JD Notae and Andrew Nembhard will dictate the pace for their respective teams. The game will be fast-paced from the beginning.
That wraps up the biggest headlines of the Sweet 16, which starts Thursday at 6:09 pm CDT, with Arkansas and Gonzaga getting things started. All eight games between Thursday and Friday should bring fireworks to your T.V.
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