March Madness Sweet 16 predictions: Thursday night games


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Arkansas after beating New Mexico State and securing their spot in the Sweet 16. Will they advance on into the Elite 8? Read the article below to find out Peyton Stagliano’s predictions.

The teams in the tournament continue to dwindle and the brackets are slimming. The past two rounds have certainly wreaked havoc amongst many brackets, as there are no perfect brackets left. Just when you think you have seen everything, there is still so much more to come. Here are my predictions for Thursday night’s Sweet 16 games.    

Arkansas vs Gonzaga 

Arkansas was unable to convert their shots in their last game against New Mexico State, only accumulating a 27.5% field goal percentage. But on the other hand, their free-throw percentage was an astonishing 88%. Looking at Gonzaga, they had a slow start in their last game against Memphis, having to come back from being down 10 at the start of the second half. It seems that Gonzaga would have lost if it wasn’t for their star player, Drew Timme, who came into the second half and helped drag his team out of their slump. While both teams had their struggles in their last games, I think Gonzaga is the team to beat. Gonzaga averages about 88 points per game, the second-most in the NCAA. They also only allow an average of 66 points per game. If Timme is playing for the Bulldogs, and they limit the times Arkansas steps up to the free-throw line, Gonzaga will dribble their way to the Elite 8. 

Michigan vs Villanova

Michigan struggled this season with their difficult Big 10 schedule. Nobody believed Michigan would have even made it to the Sweet 16 with their mediocre overall record of 19-14. While every other Big 10 has been defeated except Purdue and Michigan, many are wondering what is Michigan doing differently in the postseason. Michigan’s biggest struggle is their consistency with shooting. Michigan has had many games where they struggled to make any 3-pointers, while in other games there were no issues. Meanwhile, Villanova never seems to struggle to hit the threes. Villanova also has a superior defense that has only allowed four teams to hit 50% of their shots. Villanova will finally be the team that will end Michigan’s shocking parade.  

Texas Tech vs Duke

The Blue Devils continue to show up to play with the hopes to pull out another March Madness win, as they are playing in Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last season. Duke has a strong defense, blocking 13% of shots and only allowing 32% from the three-point range. On top of that, Duke is amongst the top five teams in the country for points per possession. To match Duke’s powerful offense, there is Texas Tech’s offense. They may not have a very high percentage of points per game, but they do in fact have a 55% two-point accuracy. Their defense doesn’t slack either. They allow the same percentage of shots from the three-point range as Duke and also have an incredible 24% turnover rate. Both teams are strong on both sides of the ball, but I think Texas Tech will give Duke a run for their money and put Krzyzewski in retirement a little earlier than he would hope.

Arizona vs Houston 

Houston can brag all they want about their recent defeat of Illinois, but they better get ready because Arizona is going to be a struggle. Houston’s offense has recently been carried by Taze Moore. In the regular season, he only accumulated about 11 points per game, but in Houston’s second-round game, he put up a total of 21 points. Playing with guard Kyler Edwards, the two are a force to be reckoned with. But Arizona can handle the ball just as well. Benedict Mathurin averages about 18 points per game, but in the past four games, he has slammed more than 20 points per game against his opponents. While there isn’t much to say about Arizona’s defense, we can all watch in awe as their offense continues to uphold their average of 85 points per game. Arizona is a sturdy team, and there isn’t much Houston’s defense will be able to do to stop Mathurin. Arizona will continue to cruise through the tournament and look like they won’t be stopping anytime soon.