Sweet 16 Predictions: Projecting Which Teams Advance To Elite Eight

    Sweet 16 predictions for the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Projecting which teams will advance to the Elite Eight.

    March 21, 2016

    Sweet 16 predictions for the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Projecting which teams will advance to the Elite Eight.

    The first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament had it all: buzzer-beaters, half-court game-winners, overtime, double-overtime. You name it, we saw it happen. Even the impossible – Texas A&M coming back from 12 down with just over 30 seconds to go.

    The games just kept getting better, and now comes the Sweet 16. Eight matchups will decide which eight teams will advance to the Elite Eight.

    We’ve got heavyweights (see: Kansas), up-and-comers (see: Oregon) and high-profile cinderellas (see: 11-seed Gonzaga).

    As for who’s going to prevail and advance to the Elite Eight, we take a crack at it below with the Sweet 16 predictions.

    North Carolina vs. Indiana

    North Carolina is, far-and-away, the most athletic team in the NCAA Tournament. They’re also the most inconsistent. They come at opponents in waves, a win-by-attrition tactic that proved successful in the first two rounds against lesser teams.

    In Indiana, the Tar Heels will face a similarly athletic club that also boasts veteran leadership. The game will have fantastic guard play (Yogi Ferrell, meet Marcus Paige) and should be 60-minute track meet. This is, unquestionably, the most exciting game of the Sweet 16.

    Sweet 16 Prediction: North Carolina

    For a full preview and final score prediction, click here.

    Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin

    In Notre Dame and Wisconsin viewers get to take in two teams who looked awful, save the final five minutes in each of their games. Notre Dame miraculously pulled out its first-round contest against Michigan after getting waxed in the first half; they then made enough plays to outlast plucky Stephen F. Austin. As for Wisconsin, well, that corner three to bury Xavier was a thing of beauty – and the pleasantries on offense stop there.

    Both of these schools are experienced. Notre Dame won the ACC last year and fields a similar lineup, while players from last year’s national runner-up pepper Wisconsin’s lineup. In theory this should be a good game, and the final score just might reflect as much. However, be prepared for an ugly six-minute stretch where the teams shoot a combined 1-for-16 and put up five total points.

    Sweet 16 Prediction: Notre Dame

    For a full preview and final score prediction, click here.

    Virginia vs. Iowa State

    Now here’s a fun matchup. While the bottom half of the Midwest is pandemonium, the top part is pure chalk. Even better, this is the classic offense vs. defense matchup.

    Iowa State ranks No. 15 nationally in points per game (81.8) and No. 2 in field goal percentage (50.2%). They like to push the tempo, while Virginia is more of a grinder. The Cavaliers rank last in the nation in possessions per game (62.4) – a whopping 11.1 possessions per game fewer than Iowa State – and are disrupters to the highest degree. Of all the teams remaining in the tournament, Virginia is the most adept at taking an opponent out of its offensive rhythm.

    This contest will resemble a tug-o-war match as much as it will a basketball game – two teams jamming their respective styles down each other’s throats.

    Sweet 16 Prediction: Virginia

    For a full preview and final score prediction, click here.

    Syracuse vs. Gonzaga

    Well this feels about right: it’s March and we’re focusing on Gonzaga and Syracuse. Mark Few has the Zags peaking at the perfect time (again), and Jim Boeheim has (again) reminded the world that 2-3 zone’s NCAA Tournament gold.

    Given that college sports are as much about the coaches as they are the players, this contest will be much better than the No. 10 and 11 seeds indicate. Both programs were, more or less, left for dead in early-to-mid February and now they’re playing with chips on their shoulders. It’ll be fascinating to watch Few and Boeheim match wits – especially considering how dominant both teams looked during the first weekend.

    Sweet 16 Prediction: Gonzaga

    For a full preview and final score prediction, click here.

    Villanova vs. Miami

    Let’s all stop for a moment and give Jay Wright a hearty round of applause. For the first time since 1985, the Wildcats have made it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament (kidding … though it feels like it’s been 30 years). America won’t get to hear Wright’s great insight during the pregame/postgame/halftime coverage; America can no longer make fun of him for his teams choking in games they should win. It’s a redemption tour; embrace it.

    Miami may very well be the most under-discussed team in this tournament. And if we’re going to really dig our heels in on “veteran leadership in the backcourt” then look no further than Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. Oh yeah, and Jim Larranaga was the ACC’s coach of the year this past season.

    This game will be a fun track meet of two clubs that could give presumptive favorite Kansas fits in the Elite 8. Buckle up for a battle between disciplined, well-coached clubs.

    Sweet 16 Prediction: Miami

    For a full preview and final score prediction, click here.

    Kansas vs. Maryland

    NBA scouts will be glued to this matchup between two of America’s most talented teams.

    Maryland underachieved all regular season, given preseason expectations, but here the Terps are in the Sweet 16. Melo Trimble is finding a groove, and he can be as good as anyone in the nation when he’s on. Trimble scored 19 and 24 points in the first two rounds, respectively, and found his way to the foul line a collective 23 times (hitting 22 of those free throw attempts). He is opening things up for the Terps’ offense at just the right time.

    Kansas has all the makings of a national championship team. The Jayhawks, behind the play of Wayne Selden Jr. and Perry Ellis, made easy work of their first two opponents. Both hit double-digit scoring totals in the first two rounds, but weren’t the only story. Just like with Trimble, their play sets the stage and opens the floor up to give Kansas a lethal all-around scoring attack.

    Sweet 16 Prediction: Kansas

    For a full preview and final score prediction, click here.

    Oregon vs. Duke

    It’s not often that Duke is playing as the underdog in the NCAA Tournament. And it’s also not often that Oregon is the 1-seed. Go figure.

    The Ducks rolled in their first game, but barely squeaked by St. Joseph’s in the second round. A win is a win, though, and Oregon now has a chance to knock off the defending national champs en route to the Elite Eight.

    Like clockwork, Duke is back in the Sweet 16. Brandom Ingram could be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, and anytime a team not named LSU has a player of that caliber, there’s Final Four potential. This isn’t the Blue Devils team of last year, but never underestimate Coach K’s ability to guide a team to a championship.

    Sweet 16 Prediction: Oregon

    For a full preview and final score prediction, click here.

    Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M

    Buddy Hield has been a man possessed, but he’s not the only one producing for Oklahoma. Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard have been the perfect compliment to the high-flying Hield. Superior guard play is what March is all about, and Oklahoma has that and then some.

    Texas A&M pulled off the unthinkable in the second round to stay alive in the tournament. Now the Aggies, the lone squad carrying the SEC banner, get an old Big 12 rival as a reward.

    Sweet 16 Prediction: Oklahoma

    For a full preview and final score prediction, click here.

    MORE: Ranking Sweet 16 Games On Excitement Level


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