By Joseph Liptak
This article is not intended for betting purposes. Enjoy This Year’s Sweet 16 Games
This year’s March Madness has been packed to the brim with unpredictable upsets, close games, and a remarkable Cinderella story. This year’s Cinderella story comes from Saint Peter’s where they were able to beat Kentucky in a close game and later advance to the Sweet 16. Kentucky was viewed as having the ability to go far this year, but ultimately fell short in the first round, opposed to teams like Gonzaga, Arizona, Purdue and many more who were able to live up to the hype. In this article, we will be taking a closer look at some of the teams mentioned above, and their chances of advancing to the Elite Eight.
No. 3 Purdue vs No. 15 Saint Peter’s
The biggest storyline of this year’s March Madness has no doubt been this 15th seed’s Cinderella story. They squeaked out a close win over Kentucky in the first round, where Kentucky was favored by over 15 points. Saint Peter’s then continued to beat Murray State by 10 points, which was one of seven double-digits wins in the Round of 32. They come into this match-up fired-up and ready to go thanks to their big wins. However, Purdue has shown to be a strong defensive team, holding their two previous tournament opponents to an average of 38% from the field and 31% from three.
The main thing that Purdue has over Saint Peter’s right now is consistency. In Saint Peter’s first tournament game they shot 51% from the field and 53% from three, compared to their second game where they shot 42% from the field and 23% from three. Purdue has been very consistent on the offensive and defensive side showing no sense of wavering or inconsistency. Purdue plays defense not to get the ball from the offense, but rather to force the opponent to shoot a poor shot. They were successful doing this in both games of the tournament. Purdue will be the favorite going into this game, and rightfully so, given their superior percentages and statistics.
No. 10 Miami vs No. 11 Iowa State
Another cool story for this year’s tournament is that this is the 4th time a 10th and 11th seed will match-up in the Sweet 16. So, who has the best chance to win this game? For starters, Miami is coming off a 18-point win against the 2nd seed Auburn, where they held Auburn to 30% from the field and under 20% from three. However, this then poses the question, is Miami legit? They may have bested the 2nd seed by a wide margin, but they barely beat the 7th seed, and allowed them to shoot upwards of 43% from both shooting categories. Miami’s last game may be a fluke, but Iowa State’s whole tournament run could be too. They have been lackluster shooting the basketball throughout the tournament and have clocked in at under 36% from the field in both games. So, Iowa State may have not beaten those teams by pure skill, but rather fortuitous match-ups. This may be the most peculiar match-up we will see in the whole tournament, but it is sure to be a good game.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs No. 4 Arkansas
The headline of Gonzaga’s Season so far has been freshman 7-footer, Chet Holmgren. He has lived up to the hype with help from his co-star Drew Timme. When Chet faced struggles in his last game, Gonzaga proved they have guys that can, and will, step up; like Andrew Nembhard who posted 23 points when Chet could not get it going. When looking at this match-up Arkansas obviously has less star power and more team basketball. They have only had one person put up more than 18 points in a tournament game, Stanley Umude. So, this game will come down to if Gonzaga’s guys back down in the face of pressure or step up when they need to. Arkansas has proven to be able to score the basketball without most of their points coming from one person, but will this hurt them in the end, not having a go-to guy? Gonzaga is favored going into this game, but the weight of the world lays on Holmgren and Timme’s shoulders to produce a well-scoring efficient game, and if that does not happen Gonzaga’s secondary guys must step up to the challenge.