2011 NCAA Men’s Tournament- Sweet 16 Preview & Predictions
The 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament revamped itself with three additional teams and one additional round but after six days of action all that is left are 16 survivors who are now just victories away from winning a national title. The following is a brief look at all the Sweet 16 matchups along with the current odds as provided by Sportsbook.com
Thursday, March 24
West Region- No.2 San Diego State Aztecs vs. No.3 Connecticut Huskies (-1) Over/Under 129.5
San Diego State survived a scare from No.7 Temple in a 71-64 OT win as a 5 ½-point favorite in the third round, and will need a much more consistent effort in this game. Kemba Walker put up 33 points in Connecticut’s 69-58 win over No.6 Cincinnati as a 3 ½-point favorite to advance to this game. The Huskies’ current winning streak stands at seven and is poised to go to eight with a victory over the Aztecs.
West Region- No.5 Arizona Wildcats vs. No.1 Duke Blue Devils (-8.5) Over/Under 145
Arizona has had to work hard to get to this point including a 70-69 nail-biter over No. 4 Texas as a 5 ½-point underdog. Derrick Williams was the difference in that game with a team-high 17 points. Duke struggled a bit as well to get here with a two-point 73-71 win over Michigan as a 12 ½-point favorite. Another strong effort by Nolan Smith and a bigger contribution from Kyrie Irving should put the Blue Devils back into the Elite Eight.
Southeast Region- No.3 BYU Cougars vs. No.2 Florida Gators (2.5) Over/Under 149
BYU has played pretty well with Brandon Davies out of the lineup, but it always helps to have a player like Jimmer Fredette in the lineup. He scored a game-high 34 points in the Cougars’ 89-67 win over Gonzaga in a game that BYU was favored by one. The Gators should have a good opportunity to exploit BYU’s weakness under the boards, but take the Cougars and the points in a close one.
Southeast Region- No.8 Butler Bulldogs vs. No.4 Wisconsin Badgers (-4) Over/Under 124
Butler is back on a national title run after its dramatic one-point 71-70 victory over No. 1 seed Pittsburgh as an eight-point underdog put it back in the Sweet 16. Wisconsin has played better than most people expected especially in its 70-65 win over Kansas State as a 3 ½-point favorite. Jon Leuer has been a force for the Badgers, but look for Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack to carry the Bulldogs back to the Elite Eight.
Friday, March 25
East Region- No.11 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. No.2 North Carolina Tar Heels (-5) Over/Under 148
Marquette, along with Connecticut became the two sole survivors from a decimated Big East contingent of teams. The Golden Eagles actually eliminated one of their own with a 66-62 win over Syracuse as a 4 ½-point underdog. North Carolina, behind Tyler Zeller’s game-high 23 points knocked off Washington 86-83 as a four-point favorite to advance on. The Tar Heels come into this game a bit more balanced on offense which should be enough to get by the Golden Eagles in this round.
East Region- No.4 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No.1 Ohio State Buckeyes (-5) Over/Under 138.5
The Wildcats’ three freshman starters continue to gain on the job training by first holding off Princeton 59-57 as a 12 ½-point favorite and then beating West Virginia 84-76 as a 3 ½-point favorite. Ohio State has yet to be tested in double-digit wins over UT-San Antonio and George Mason. The Buckeyes will have to work a bit harder in this one but, behind a huge effort by Jared Sullinger, come away with the win and easily cover the five points.
Southwest Region- No.12 Richmond Spiders vs. No.1 Kansas Jayhawks (-10.5) Over/Under 138
Richmond upset No.5 seed Vanderbilt 69-66 as a three-point underdog and then eliminated one of the other bracket-busters, Morehead State 64-48 as a 4 ½-point favorite. Kansas cruised to victories in its first two games with double-digit wins. The Jayhawks continue to roll behind the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff as they both appear to be just warming up.
Southwest Region- No.11 VCU Rams vs. No.10 Florida State Seminoles (-4) Over/Under 133
VCU is playing with a huge chip on its shoulder after all the criticism it received about its controversial at-large bid. The Rams have three tournament wins including a 94-76 rout over Purdue as a 9 ½-point underdog, and you get the feeling this team is not quite ready to call it quits. Florida State has been impressive in its own right with a 71-57 rout of No.2 seed Notre Dame as a 4 ½-point underdog. Stick with the Rams for at least one more game as they look to add an exclamation point next to their recent statement.