BSB Tournament Pick ‘Em: Thursday Sweet 16 Preview

For bracket competitions, the middle weekend of the NCAA tournament can be compared to the Saturday round, or “moving day”, of a golf tournament.  The stage is set by the first weekend, and the title is wrapped up during the Final Four, but the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 are when the true contenders are identified, and some people can come from far down the standings to jump into contention.

johnson#5 Butler vs. #1 Syracuse:  Especially after all the upsets we’ve seen already, don’t be surprised to see Butler take down the top-seeded Orange in this one.  Syracuse has a great team, but they have two weaknesses.  One is depth, a problem exacerbated by the absence of Arinze Onuaku, who will miss the game again.  The other is inexperience at point guard, even thought Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine have both had good seasons.  Can they keep playing at a high level with the pressure on?  Our current leader, Jason, is hoping they can’t, as he is the only one in the field that has Butler winning here, while everyone else has the ‘Cuse.  Maureen and Ben look to keep their champion alive.

#11 Washington vs. #2 West Virginia:  I’ve said all season that West Virginia won’t win it all because they don’t have good enough guard play.  Now, in the middle of the tournament, they lose their best guard, Darryl Bryant, with a broken foot.  Translation: they’re in a lot of trouble and might be a long shot to even reach the Final Four right now.  Washington looks to keep the Cinderella run going.  Just five people, Jason, Bry, Greg, Weirauch, and Waters, have 2-seed WVU winning here, and nobody has Washington.  Four of those five (Greg the exception) have WVU reaching the title game.

#6 Xavier vs. #2 Kansas St.:  K-State continues to impress, but they better find a way to contain Jordan Crawford if they want to advance.  This will be a great game to watch, with outstanding guard-play on both sides.  Jason, Ryan, Jared, Greg, Maureen, and Bry all have K-State, while Walsh is the only one with Xavier in the Elite 8.  Jason, Ryan, and Greg have K-State winning again on Saturday.

#12 Cornell vs. #1 Kentucky:  An intriguing game here, as these teams are polar opposites in a lot of ways, but are both really, really good, and both were very impressive on the first weekend.  Kentucky is chock full of NBA-caliber talent but very short on experience, and their biggest weakness is 3-point shooting.  Cornell has no NBA players but has a ton of seniors playing in their third NCAA tournament (though first Sweet 16), and their biggest strength is probably 3-point shooting.  It’s the Ivy League vs. the coach who’s had two Final Four appearances erased because of ineligible players that got special treatment because of their NBA potential.  They’re two programs taking the complete opposite routes to success in D-1 college basketball.  Nobody has Cornell in this game, and only Jason, Maureen, and Weirauch DO NOT have Kentucky winning here.  Talia and Jon look to keep their champ alive. 

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