Spinning out and going the distance
Sixteen sweet teams try to survive
Tae Kwon Do does good
Taking a road trip just makes sense
Sixteen sweet teams try to survive
By Jordan Bell
The men have been separated from the boys, and the Sweet 16 has arrived.
The first weekend of the March Madness tournament was excitement at its highest, as the underdogs came out with a ferocious bite. Games were close, players were spectacular, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs proved once again that they are no slouch.
The Sweet 16 will offer a different brand of basketball, as the power teams will face off for bragging rights. There won't be any unknown teams coming out of the woodwork, only trench warfare between the best teams in the land.
Here is my formula for success as it gets deeper in the big dance:
The Duke Blue Devils meet up with the University of California Los Angeles Bruins. Who could have asked for a better Sweet 16 match-up? These teams play an entirely different brand of basketball.
The Blue Devils are poised, intelligent, and run their system to a tee behind point guard Jason Williams, while the Bruins play with reckless abandon, pressing at all times and trying to force the issue inside. Look for the Blue Devils to handle the Bruins' frightening press, and defeat them in a close one. However, if Blue Devils centre Carlos Boozer is back in action, the Bruins have no chance.
The University of Southern California Trojans' run in the tournament will come to an abrupt end when they are run off the floor by the Kentucky Wildcats. Wildcat forward Tayshaun Prince is a load to handle, and the Trojans just don't have what it takes to dent the Wildcats.
Duke and Kentucky will vie for the elusive Final Four berth. Both teams have a storied past. Who can forget Christian Laettner's game-winning shot for Duke nine years ago? But this one will come down to the Blue Devils' talent. Jason Williams and forward Shane Battier will lead the Blue Devils to yet another Final Four appearance.
The Stanford Cardinals meets the Cincinnati Bearcats in a match-up I despise. I find both teams extremely overrated. The fact remains though, I will never, as long as I live, choose Cincinnati to win in the tournament, so give this one to the Cardinals.
The Maryland Terrapins looked awfully impressive against Georgia State, with point guard Steve Blake dishing, guard Juan Dixon scoring at will, and centre Lonny Baxter dominating inside. I just wish forward Terence Morris would realize he is playing in the biggest tournament in college sports. His team should take his pulse to make sure he's still alive, since his play in the tournament has been lacking all emotion.
In the elite eight, Maryland will cruise by Stanford to provide evidence for many people's choice of the Terrapins in the Final Four.
The midwest will continue to be the conference where if you're gutless, and pick all the favourites, you would be doing well, albeit without any dignity.
The Arizona Wildcats will absolutely destroy the Mississippi Rebels, and the Illinois Fighting Illini will outpace the over rated Kansas Jayhawks.
The elite eight match-up between Arizona and Illinois is a tough one to decipher. Illinois is fast and overpowering, and point guard Frank Williams has that elusive quality that players like Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves, and Connecticut's Khalid El-Amin had always able to find a way to win. But I can't possibly see them beating an Arizona team that is stacked with National Basketball Association prospects, such as centre Loren Woods, guards Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardener, and forward Michael Wright.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been the feel-good story of the tournament once again, led by the play of forward Casey Calvary and guard Dan Dickau. Perhaps the hardest thing I will ever have to do is pick them to lose against the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans are just too tough inside, and coach Tom Izzo will prepare them perfectly. Look for Gonzaga's poor defence to be a huge factor, as Michigan State piles up points in the paint.
Temple's zone defence will take the bite out of the Penn State Nittany Lions, but they will come up short when they meet the Spartans in the elite eight.