Who will be the final eight teams in the Sweet Sixteen? Here are my predictions for the Sunday slate of the 3rd Round.
#2 Kansas vs. #10 Stanford - South - CBS, 12:00
The Jayhawks really struggled to put away the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky in their opener, so you could see some action pushing for the upset. I'm not feeling it. Sure, the Cardinal can score but they do not have the guys to slow down Andrew Wiggins, and there's no chance that Wayne Selden does not show up again like he did against EKU.
#1 Wichita State vs. #8 Kentucky - Midwest - CBS, 2:30
Sure, Cal Poly is awful, but it still was impressive how the Shockers dispatched them so quickly. They will be in for an interesting showdown with the Wildcats of Kentucky, who looked pretty good in taking out Kansas State. I think we are in for an excellent ballgame, but the bruising Wichita defense will get the job done.
Pick: Wichita State
#3 Iowa State vs. #6 North Carolina - East - CBS, 5:00
Can the Cyclones survive and advance without forward Georges Niang, who broke his foot in the team's win over NC Central? While he has a case to be considered the best player on his club, I think they can move on and I think they will considering they are so deep offensively. North Carolina can score as well, but they also are prone to the mistakes that can cost them, even as they slid by the Friars in their first game.
Pick: Iowa State
#11 Tennessee vs. #14 Mercer - Midwest - TNT, 6:00
Everybody is loving Mercer right now after they took out Duke in what some thought could be a troublesome matchup for the Blue Devils. While Mercer is a good club that can score inside and out and has five senior starters, I do think that the Vols, who smoked Massachusetts on Friday afternoon, will still advance. Their talent on the interior will prove to be the difference.
#4 UCLA vs. #12 Stephen F. Austin - South - TBS, 7:00
Another potential Cinderella, it took a whole lot for the Lumberjacks to upset VCU after trailing by 10 with three and a half minutes to go, including that epic four point play to force overtime. I like this team a lot, and UCLA does not have the size that could really punish SFA, but I think UCLA's talented guard trio of Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Norman Powell will overcome the Jacks' aggressive defense and Steve Alford's propensity for being upset in March.
#3 Creighton vs. #6 Baylor - West - truTV, 7:30
While Baylor rattled those who are referred to as Nebrasketball, the Blue Jays had a tough got at it with Louisiana-Lafayette for a while before pulling away. While Baylor's athleticism makes this an interesting ballgame, they do not have the offensive firepower, particularly from the perimeter, to contend with Dougie McBuckets and the Creighton threeball movement.
#1 Virginia vs. #8 Memphis - East - TNT, 8:30
The Cavaliers looked to be dangerously close to being knocked out by the 16 seed Coastal Carolina on Friday night before getting their act together late to get the win. That's going to be the way UVA has to win with how they play defense and how they grind possessions, especially when their shots from the perimeter are not falling. I think you will see a similar result against a Memphis team that can light up the scoreboard, but the Cavs will survive at least once more.
#1 Arizona vs. #8 Gonzaga - West - TBS, 9:30
Arizona had to deal with a game Weber State club that pestered the heck out of them in the 1/16 game, but you have to think they lucked out by not getting an Oklahoma State team that could have knocked them out of the tournament. I think Gonzaga, despite their strong offense, is less likely to do so as I think Arizona's excellent defense can shut down their offense down. Give me the Wildcats.