March Madness Tracker: Sweet 16

Luke Smith , Sports Writer

After not having a tournament last year, March Madness is back with a bit more madness than normal. In the first 2 rounds, many notable schools have already been upset and won’t advance to the Sweet 16. In the first round, #2 Ohio State, #5 Tennessee, #4 Purdue, #3 Texas and #4 Virginia were eliminated. In the second round, #1 Illinois, #3 West Virginia, #4 Oklahoma State, #2 Iowa and #3 Kansas were eliminated. This tournament has definitely been thrilling and entertaining while busting a lot of people’s brackets. With that being said, let’s take a look at the Sweet 16 matchups beginning on Saturday, March 27th, along with analysis and predictions for each of the 8 games.

Saturday, March 27 Games


#8 Loyola Chicago vs. #12 Oregon State, 1:40 PM CT


Loyola Chicago is looking to make another huge like they did three years ago when they made it to the Final Four as an 11 seed. After knocking off #1 Illinois in the second round 71-58, it’s easy to believe in this team. A very strong team defensively, they were able to hold Illinois to a low 58 points while shooting a strong 51% from the field and 40% from the 3-pt line. Meanwhile, Oregon State has won 6 of their last 7 games and pulled off upsets against #5 Tennessee and #4 Oklahoma State, but with their inconsistent offensive performance and the overall mismatch, I predict Loyola Chicago to win.


#1 Baylor vs. #5 Villanova, 4:15 PM CT


Baylor is a clear contender to win the championship and has the resume to prove it. With only 2 losses on the season and an aggressive offense that shoots 49% from the field and 41.8% from the 3-pt line, it will be very difficult for Villanova to slow them down. However, Villanova has proven themselves to be a consistently strong basketball school, as Head Coach Jay Wright has won recent championships in 2016 and 2018. With senior Villanova guard Collin Gillespie out for the season with a knee injury, I give the advantage to Baylor, but don’t be surprised if Villanova pulls off the upset.


#3 Arkansas vs. #15 Oral Roberts, 6:25 PM CT


Oral Roberts shocked the sports world after defeating #2 Ohio State in the first round 75-72. Led by sophomore guard Max Abams, who leads the nation in scoring (24.5 PPG), Oral Roberts is one of the most aggressive teams in the tournament and is highly skilled at forcing turnovers on defense. On the other side, Arkansas freshman guard Moses Moody (17 PPG, 5.8 RPG) is one of the top draft prospects. This would be yet another huge upset, as the line is Arkansas by 11, but I choose Oral Roberts to win another big game and keep the hot streak going.


#2 Houston vs. #11 Syracuse, 8:55 PM CT


After a very strong regular season with only 3 losses, Houston entered the tournament as a 2 seed. Led by junior guard Quentin Grimes (18 PPG, 6 RPG), Houston has an elite defense that allows a low 58 PPG to opponents. Syracuse was able to defeat #6 San Diego State and #3 West Virginia on their way to the Sweet 16 with an efficient offense that shoots a solid 44% from the field and 78% from the free throw line. I predict Houston to slow down the Syracuse offense and get the win.


Sunday, March 28 Games


#1 Gonzaga vs. #5 Creighton, 1:10 PM CT


Gonzaga seems invincible this season with an overall record of 28-0. Cruising past #16 Norfolk State in the first round 98-55 and #8 Oklahoma in the second round 87-71, Gonzaga is yet to lose any momentum. Gonzaga is led by 2 top draft prospects; freshman guard Jalen Suggs (14 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.3 APG) and senior forward Corey Kispert (19 PPG, 5 RPG). While Creighton is an impressive basketball school with an experienced roster led by junior guard Marcus Zegarowski (15.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.4 APG), the line is Gonzaga by 13.5 and they’ll need almost a miracle in order to beat Gonzaga.


#1 Michigan vs. #4 Florida State, 4:00 PM


Michigan is an all-around solid team on offense and defense. They’ve also been a little inconsistent, losing 3 of their last 5 games before the tournament. In the first round, they cruised past #16 Texas Southern 82-66. The second round was more interesting, as #8 LSU paced Michigan for most of the game and eventually lost 78-86. Michigan also won’t have senior forward Isaiah Livers due to a foot injury. Meanwhile, Florida State has one of the best offenses in the nation and a top draft prospect in freshman guard Scottie Barnes (10.4 PPG, 4 RPG, 4 APG). As an overall unit and team chemistry, Florida State is better than Michigan, so I predict them to upset Michigan.


#2 Alabama vs. #11 UCLA, 6:15 PM


Alabama has established themselves as an elite basketball school with a very strong defense in terms of rebounds and steals per game. Their offense averages almost 80 PPG and four of their players average at least 11 PPG. UCLA is a solid team with an efficient offense that shoots 46% from the field. However, UCLA hasn’t really been a standout team in the tournament and they haven’t convinced me they’re capable of taking down Alabama.


#6 USC vs. #7 Oregon, 8:45 PM


Both of these teams have proven that they shouldn’t be slept on and I think this will be one of the closest games in the Sweet 16. In the second round, USC crushed #3 Kansas 85-51 and Oregon handled #2 Iowa 95-80. These teams both have impressive scorers; USC with freshman forward Evan Mobley (16.5 PPG, 8.8 RPG) and Oregon with senior guard Chris Duarte (17 PPG, 4.6 RPG). This game will come down to the wire, but USC’s questionable free throw shooting (64.7%) could prove to be problematic late in the game, so I predict Oregon to scrape by with a win. 


Note: These predictions are based on team stats, news and recent games, as well as my experience watching these games in person. However, it’s impossible for anyone to be 100% confident that they chose the right team, especially in March Madness.