By Jake Geiger, Staff Writer
The first two rounds of March Madness have been thrilling, with massive upsets and shocks, while some of the top teams still advanced. The Sweet 16 is set to be played today and tomorrow, and there are some great matchups to be previewed.
The first game today features the top-seeded team in the tournament, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, as they face the Arkansas Razorbacks. Gonzaga escaped with a 82-78 victory over the Memphis Tigers in the round of 32 after being down ten points at the half. Big men Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme look to continue their dominance in the tournament, but they do run into a top big man from Arkansas in Jaylin Williams.
Williams averages 11 points and nine rebounds a game, so this should be a tough test for the Bulldogs. The next game is a familiar team for Xavier fans, and that is the Villanova Wildcats as they look to go against upset-minded Michigan. Michigan is an 11 seed, and they have beaten Colorado State and Tennessee to reach this point. Collin Gillespie and company will look to stop this miracle run with their consistent defense and sharp shooting. The nightcap on Thursday is also two excellent games with Duke versus Texas Tech and Houston versus Arizona.
Duke had a solid victory onSunday when they defeated Michigan State 85-76. Coach Mike Krzyzewski looks to win a national championship in his final year of coaching with star forward Paolo Bancherobut will first have to face a tough and gritty Texas Tech team. Arizona and Houston look to be an extremely fast-paced game as these two teams love the transition game. Arizona is a one seed under first-year coach Tommy Lloyd and has superstar guard Benedict Mathurin. Veteran coach Kelvin Sampson has done an outstanding job with this Cougar team as injuries have hit them all year, but they prevailed to lock a four seed and have two double-digit victories in the first two rounds.
The first game on Friday is a Big Ten power in Purdue as they look to stop the 15-seeded Saint Peter’s. Saint Peter’s had the biggest upset of the tournament, defeating Kentucky 85-79 in the first round in overtime. Then, they routed Murray State in the round of 32 and now look to continue this great play against future NBA lottery pick Jaden Ivey and Purdue. The next game is a great battle with one-seeded Kansas versus Providence. The Friars are looking to make their first Elite Eight since 1997, while this is familiar territory for Kansas. It will be interesting to see who Providence puts on Ochai Agbaji, who was on the Associated Press All-First team this season.
The next game is a classic blue-blood game with the North Carolina Tar Heels and the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins are trying to go back to the Elite Eight as they did last season with a similar roster in guards Tyger Campbell and Johnny Juzang. North Carolina played a heck of a game last year, blowing a 20-point lead against the one seeded Baylor-Bears. North Carolina squeaked out a win in overtime as the starting lineup accounted for 86% of the scoring.
Lastly, 10-seeded Miami and 11-seeded Iowa State play the final game of the Sweet 16. Both these teams are senior-heavy and look to continue their collegiate careers in the Elite Eight. Miami defeated a top ten team in Auburn by 18 points on Sunday while Iowa State survived Wisconsin by a score of 54-49 to pull off the upset.