We will start moving down the bracket which means starting with Gonzaga. The Zags struggled with Georgia St. but started to run away with it late in the second half giving them a 21 point victory. 8 Memphis beat 9 Boise St. This wasn’t too much of a surprise as are most of the 8/9 matchups but Penny Hardaway has done a nice job with the program the last month of the season.
The first surprise in the West was New Mexico State beating UCONN. To be honest, UCONN wasn’t that impressive but then again, the aggies didn’t play any ranked teams all year. Vermont beating Arkansas was a very popular upset pick and they kept it extremely close but the hogs came away with the win. Notre Dame over Alabama was one of the most deflating games for my bracket because I was sure Rutgers would win the play-in game and beat Bama, but the Notre Dame win threw a wrench into things. I wasn’t very high on the Crimson Tide at all but I thought they would definitely beat the Fighting Irish. The Red Raiders beating Montana St. was no surprise as I think they are one of the best teams in the country. Michigan St. over Davidson was another tossup in the West but Tom Izzo got the edge which should be no surprise considering they are one of the most historic basketball programs ever.
Wrapping up the first round in the west was no surprise, Duke beat Cal St. Fullerton. The Round of 32 didn’t bring many surprises although Memphis
Baylor beating Norfolk St. was no surprise although I expected it to be a lot closer than it was. North Carolina came into the tournament with something to prove and hammered Marquette who came in cold. St. Mary’s and UCLA both took care of business in the first round but UCLA was tested a little more than the battle tested bruins may have expected. Virginia Tech couldn’t quite pull off the anticipated upset over Texas but kept it close for the entire 40 minutes. Purdue beat Yale without much contest and Murry St. beat San Francisco in a high scoring thriller.
This next game was the game that nobody saw coming (even if you picked them in your bracket). The Peacocks from St. Peters upset the 2 seed, and a favorite to make the final four out of the east, the Wildcats from Kentucky. If you watched Kentucky play all year long, I would argue that they weren’t a championship team, but nobody expected a first round loss for the wildcats. The round of 32 didn’t disappoint either; the 1 seed in the east, Baylor Bears, were upset by North Carolina. Baylor overcame a 25 point deficit to force overtime but couldn’t quite pull it off and the Tar Heels keep dancing. UCLA, despite the struggle in the first round, hammered the 5 seed St. Mary’s. Purdue beat Texas wasn’t much of a shocker however St. Peter’s pulled off another big upset and became only the 3rd 15 seed ever to reach the Sweet 16. The Peacocks beat Murray St. and it seemed like they scored every time down the floor.
Arizona got Wright St. off of the play in game and handled business with a 17 point lead. TCU throttled Seton Hall in a rare 8/9 seed blowout game. UAB couldn’t live up to the hype and got beat by Houston. Illinois shouldn’t have won their first round game, only leading Chattanooga for the last 25 seconds of the game as the Fighting Illini kept dancing despite a first round struggle. Michigan played a terrible first half but found a way to beat the Rams from Colorado St. in the first matchup of the tournament. Tennessee played a very solid second half against the Lancers from Longwood and ended up winning by 32.
Despite the Ramblers previous two tournament successes, Loyola and Sister Jean didn’t have the magic against Ohio St. and never really kept it close. Villanova faced very little competition in their first round matchup against the Blue Hens from Delaware and an even 20 point victory for the Cats. TCU played Arizona tough in the second round but the Wildcats pulled out the victory and advanced to the Sweet 16. Houston vs. Illinois was a very entertaining game until the last 5 minutes when it felt like the Illini couldn’t hit a shot, the Cougars kept dancing. Michigan provided another thriller of a game and busted lots of brackets (including mine) while also ruining plenty of Saturday nights. Villanova beat Ohio St. pretty handily and will face Juwann Howard’s red hot Wolverines.
The Jayhawks were able to knock 16 seed Texas Southern out of the tournament while San Diego St.’s tournament came to an end just 40 minutes after it started against the hot Creighton Blue Jays. The Richmond Spiders pulled off an upset that ruined quite a few brackets. South Dakota St. was unable to pull off a very popular upset pick and Providence was able to pull out the W. Despite being ranked lower than LSU, Iowa St. was the favored team considering LSU’s head coach was just fired.
Wisconsin struggled against 14 seed Colgate but the Badgers were able to pull it off. Miami vs. USC was a toss-up game that was extremely entertaining down to the buzzer but USC’s season came to an end. Auburn, shocker shocker, beats Jacksonville St. by 17. The Midwest second round might’ve been the craziest of them all as we see a 10/11 sweet sixteen matchup between Iowa St. and Miami. The Kansas/Providence game wasn’t a huge surprise as far as seeding goes, but a lot of people had the Hawkeyes advancing to their Sweet 16
Sweet 16 Predictions
If you’ve made it this far into the article then you know there have been some pretty crazy upsets this year, so by no means am I telling you for certain that these picks are a lock, they are just a personal, unbiased opinion. If you could see my bracket, I wouldn’t trust these picks either but let’s jump right into it. I think UNC’s run comes to an end against UCLA who are returning 3 starters from last year’s final four squad. I definitely see UNC keeping it extremely tight all game long though. As much as I want to see St. Peter’s keep dancing. I just think they’ve run out of magic and I’m picking the boilermaker’s to advance to the Elite 8 (I said the same thing against Murray St. and Kentucky so who knows).
Gonzaga vs. Arkansas is going to be a very good game and I think the hogs winning this game is a very real possibility but I have to go with the #1 overall seed in the entire tournament, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. This squad has a good mix of veterans who have experience deep in the tournament as well as some young legs which is what makes this team scary. Texas Tech vs. Duke is probably the hardest pick of this round, both teams are talented and have experience in the tournament but I think I have to go with Duke, the Red Raiders don’t really have a big man to guard Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams in the post. In the South Region, I think Arizona is a very dominant team and I have a hard time believing Houston is going to be able to keep up with the wildcats.
I also think the Michigan Magic is going to come to an end against Villanova who shoots over 80% from the free throw line. Free throws win games in the tournament and I think they’re going to win this Sweet 16 matchup. Kansas vs. Providence is another tough game as I think both of these teams are a little over rated, but I’m going to give the edge to the Jayhawks. Finally, the matchup absolutely no one expected, Iowa St. vs. Miami (cyclones vs. canes), I’m picking Miami in this patchup because I feel like their road to the Sweet 16 has been slightly more difficult Iowa St’s therefore the edge has to go to the canes, but to be fair, I haven’t watched a whole lot of basketball between these two teams.
Keep checking WLTL.net for more articles just like this about the NCAA tournament and where your favorite radio heads stand on some of the matchups.
Assistant Sports Director
London born and LA based artist and singer Cornelia Murr is as alluring as her music is. Her first 2018EP Lake Tear of the Clouds casts a spell on the listeners, she transports me to a fogy forest path and she sings about the spiritual and bodily struggles of femininity.
The EP follows Murr’s journey of self acceptance through falling in love; which is a journey in and of it self. The mood of the EP is ethereal, enchanting, and a soft sensuality that reveals emotions as the melodies and lyrics progress. Genius describes the style as a “blend of folk and cosmic soul music”, which I think captures the essence of the EP. Murr’s voice is a soft, floating whisper that comforts the listener; with synths, organ accents, and her angelic harmonies one can’t help but be completely encompassed by the emotion of the lyrics.
The EP opener, Different This Time captures all of those; it is my favorite on the EP. I recommend listening to it as loud as you can and just let the melody and Murr’s voice wash over you. The song is a raw and soulful telling of vulnerability and love, as one learns again to love despite the past.
If you are looking for new music to listen to on your barely warm yet Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee (or tea), Murr is the artist to accompany you.
When March rolls around, almost every sports fan has one thing on their mind: March Madness. This week was a crucial week for teams like Rutgers who have gone on a roll the last month, or Michigan who has been spiraling with the suspension of Juwann Howard. Rutgers is still considered a bubble team but with a solid run in the B10 Tournament they could be a sneaky good, lower seed team.
Coming out of the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga was the heavy favorite and they didn’t disappoint, beating St. Mary’s by 13 in the WCC championship. If you’re a fan of upsets I could definitely see the #1 seed Gonzaga getting upset earlier than many may predict. St. Mary’s on the other hand is going to be a very good pick to make a deep run, knocking off Gonzaga just a couple weeks ago.
The B10 tournament is bound to have multiple surprises this year. Rutgers, who was mentioned earlier, can’t be considered a dark horse, but when you think of Big 10 basketball, they aren’t the first school to come to mind Purdue, who was ranked #1 in the country for the first time in the entire tournament but has a very dynamic trio in Zach Edey, Jaden Ivey, and Trevion Williams. Illinois vs. Indiana was an interesting matchup favoring the Illini but the Hoosiers are one of the hottest teams in the country and have solidified their spot in the Big Dance with a win over Illinois. Illinois has a tendency to be a little inconsistent but if Alfonso Plummer and Trent Frazier get hot from behind the arc, watch out for the Illini. And don’t forget about the dominant big man, Kofi Cockburn, as well as one of the most dynamic players in the country, Andre Curbello. As for the B10 tournament prediction, I have to take Purdue who has been one of the most consistent teams in the country.
The SEC has been very interesting so far. Alabama with a shocking loss to Vanderbilt and Auburn losing to a red hot Texas A&M. Alabama has the ability to put 100 points on the board, but have proven to be extremely inconsistent when they struggle from the field.
The Auburn loss was arguably the most shocking loss of March, coming into the SEC tournament as a 1 seed with one of the best defenses in the country and led by Naismith hopeful, Jabari Parker Jr. and big man, Walker Kessler. Tennessee and Kentucky are the next two teams up, but I have to give the edge to Kentucky who has the best rebounder in the country in Oscar Tshiebwe. Watch out for the Wildcats as we enter the tournament as they could make a very deep run this March. Auburn is also going to be a solid pick in the tournament losing only 5 games all season, I don’t expect them to be an early exit.
Duke has by far been the best season in the ACC in Coach K’s memorable last season. The ACC has been pretty underwhelming the last couple of years which is uncommon. North Carolina, despite it’s upset at Cameron Indoor to cap off the regular season, haven’t been great the last two years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are an early exit in the NCAA tournament, however, they are definitely top 2 in the ACC. Is it probable that they beat Duke twice in the span of a week? Definitely not, but they have only helped their seeding the last two weeks of the season.
The Pac-12 has been an extremely fun conference to watch this year, with Arizona, UCLA, and USC all being extremely talented this year. UCLA returning some key members of it’s Final Four squad last year including Johhny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez Jr., and Tyger Campbell. Arizona struggled against Stanford in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, but they are a top 5 team in the country, they are also one of the most diverse teams in the country with 8 international recruits on their roster. USC has been slightly overrated all year long, and with a game against UCLA, I have to favor the experienced Bruins in this matchup. A UCLA vs. Arizona matchup could be very interesting. They split the season series but again, I am going to favor UCLA due to their battle tested roster. Don’t be surprised if these two teams both make deep runs into March.
Arguably the most entertaining Power 5 conference this year has been the Big 12 between Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, and Texas headlining the conference. Texas was a preseason Top 5 but have been underwhelming the second half of the season. Baylor also doesn't seem to have the “it factor” needed to make a deep run into march. Both teams coming off of losses to TCU and Oklahoma respectively. Kansas also has some concerning losses this season so for me, it comes down to Texas Tech and Chris Beard to win the Big 12.
The Big East is a conference that thrives off of basketball. Creighton is extremely hot right now with big wins over Providence and Marquette. UCONN vs. Villanova is another difficult matchup to predict, both have been very solid all year long. I firmly believe Colin Gillespie is one of the best players in the country so I will give the edge to Villanova in the always entertaining Big East.
Keep checking WLTL.net for more information as March Madness continues.
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