March Madness Sweet 16 predictions: Friday night games



The excitement of UCLA team members after defeating Saint Mary’s to advance to the Sweet 16. On Friday, they face UNC. Can they win? Peyton Stagliano details her opinion on that and the other Friday games in the article below.

Every player and fan who has a team that has advanced can finally breathe now that they have made the Sweet 16. But that moment won’t last for long because now it is time to see who can clinch a spot in the Elite 8. With Sweet 16 matches starting on Thursday, there is so much to consider. The teams that don’t play until Friday get to watch Thursday’s matchups in fright, knowing that they decide who they might play next- if they can pull out their own win. Here are the teams I predict will get to breathe once more and the teams I believe will drown from a crushing defeat.    

Saint Peter’s vs Purdue 

Saint Peters has wreaked havoc amongst fans brackets this tournament. Nobody could have predicted the 15-seed sticking it out until the Sweet 16, winning their first game against powerhouse Kentucky. However, they must take on number 3-seed Purdue, and this game has many wondering, can Saint Peter’s pull another upset and advance to the Elite 8. This game is a difficult one to predict since Purdue has developed into a very brawny team. But when you look at Saint Peter’s, there is no telling what they will pull out of their back pocket next. While Purdue has Jaden Ivey, who can lead the team with around 18 points per game and 3 assists, Saint Peter’s own Daryl Banks III has been stepping up recently, scoring a whopping 27 points against Kentucky. At this point, either team could come out on top, but I think Saint Peter’s has one more shock left for its unsuspecting fans. 

Providence vs Kansas 

Kansas is coming out strong with their last win against Creighton tallying to a 7-game win streak. Both Providence and Kansas have experience in the tournament and are also known for making it quite far. Providence should have some concern toward stopping Kansas’s bouldering Ochai Agbaji, who scores an average of 19 points per game, which is the most in the Big 12 conference. He is also a very versatile player skilled at shooting from anywhere on the court and covering any position. Providence doesn’t have anyone who can score nearly as many points per game as Agbaji. This is a close one, but I don’t see Kansas giving up their winning streak just yet.


In UNC vs UCLA, both teams have had their downs and ups this year.  In their recent game against Baylor, UNC proved to be incredibly shaky, allowing 18 turnovers and giving Baylor a chance to come back. UNC can say that it wasn’t their finest moment and in the end, they were lucky to advance. Another downfall for UNC is that they can often have difficult times building up their energy. When other teams come out with more energy than them, they seem to give up and allow the other teams to control the game. They need to be incredibly careful since UCLA will most definitely come out ready to dominate the game. UCLA does know how to come out strong, but they often struggle to find a rhythm with their shooting, and their top point scorers are all inconsistent. Accumulating three-pointers has especially been a struggle for the team. Although they struggle offensively, UCLA’s defense seems to have no issues keeping the team in the game. UCLA has the victory in this one if they come out and control the game. They can easily catch UNC off guard and take matters into their own hands. 

Iowa State vs Miami 

Iowa State is in a similar position to UCLA with a team that lacks offensive ability but covers up their tracks with a star defense. Iowa State’s defense forced Wisconsin in their last game to give away 18 turnovers. Prior to that game, Wisconsin had averaged the least amount of turnovers per game, but seemingly they struggled against Iowa State’s brutal defense. Although Iowa State’s defense is clearly one of the strongest defenses in the nation, Miami has a very talented offense that rarely scores below 70 points a game. Their shooters are much more consistent at converting when the ball is in their hands. Miami’s defense does struggle to prevent teams from racking up points on them but this shouldn’t be much of a concern considering Iowa State has a difficult time racking up points themselves. Although Iowa State has difficulty making the basket swish, averaging a  low of 66 points per game, I think their defensive skills can make up for a lot of ground and put a halt to Miami’s offensive game. Even though they seem to score more than 70 points nearly every game, they still manage to only average around 75 points a game. I think Iowa State’s defense will prevail and help carry them into the Elite 8.