The Sweet 16 is finally here for the NCAA Tournaments otherwise commonly known as the regional final four. The top three seeds in Duke, Michigan State, and LSU had some scares, but it’s all about surviving and advancing sometimes.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech kept pace as the four-seed as they are looking to shock America with another rare win over Duke.
Let’s see how this side of the bracket will pan out in the Sweet 16.
The Blue Devils opened up the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a convincing win over North Dakota State 85-62. The Blue Devils only had a four-point lead at the half, but turned it on in the second half to win by 33 points.
Duke was lead in scoring by their two outstanding Freshman R.J. Barrett who scored 26 points and added 14 rebounds. Zion Williamson finished with 25.
In round two, the Blue Devils matched up against the UCF Knights and their 7’6″ big man Tacko Fall. Down by three in the final seconds of the game, Williamson drove to the lane and was able to get the foul and the basket. The foul was charged to Fall as he fouled out when UCF needed him the most.
With Williamson at the line, he missed the free throw but Barrett was able to grab the rebound and put it back in to give Duke a one-point lead with 8.8 seconds to go. Two easy misses later, UCF was sent packing while Duke moved on to the Sweet 16.
Things will be much tougher for Duke as a familiar foe is next for them.
(4) Virginia Tech
The Hokies are gearing up to face their ACC foe Duke here in the Sweet 16. They have faced hardly any resistance thus far in the tourney.
Against St. Louis, Tech won by double digits as they were led in scoring by Nickeil Alexander-Walker who scored 20. Next, they faced a upset-hungry Liberty Flames team.
The Flames held a three-point lead at the half over VT. In the second half, however, the Hokies turned it on outscoring the Flames 38-26. The win catapulted them to their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1967.
It will be interesting to see what happens as the Hokies are keen on upsetting the Blue Devils again this season. The first time around they won 77-72, but Zion missed this matchup.
The Baton Rouge Tigers is playing with a chip on their shoulder without head coach Will Wade. They nearly lost to a feisty Yale Bulldogs team fresh off winning the Ivy League. It was a mirror of two halves as LSU was up by 16 at the half.
In the second half, the Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 45-34 but due to the strong first half LSU presented, the Tigers were able to grab the win and survive 79-75. LSU was lead in scoring by guard Skyler Mays 19 points while Naz Reid added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
In round two, LSU found themselves in another tough matchup with the Maryland Terrapins. It was a back-and-forth contest led by NBA first round projected big men. LSU’s Reid had 13 points while Maryland’s Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith combined for 25 and 23 rebounds.
However, it was the game-winning layup made by LSU guard Tremont Waters that sent the Tigers on to the Sweet 16.
Awaiting them is a college blue blood.
(2) Michigan State
Bradley gave MSU all they could handle in the first round. Tom Izzo was irate as ever with the lackadaisical performance of his team as he chewed them out at halftime. The Spartans responded in a big way as they scored 42 in the second half to oust the Braves. Cassius Winston led the way with 26 while Xavier Tillman finished with 16 and 11 boards.
State faced a conference rival of their own in Minnesota, but they wasted no time with them. They won by 20 powered by Winston and Tillman who combined for 28 big ones.
Michigan State is banged up, but they aren’t making any excuses for it. This team resembles every bit of Izzo as they just lace it up and play hard. LSU is every bit as tough as them though. Both teams will bring their hard hat and lunch pale for this one.
Both of these matchups should be great. However, only two teams can move on.
Look for the Duke Blue Devils to defeat the Virginia Tech Hokies 79-68. In the other regional semifinal, LSU is playing with momentum. However, they are speeding towards a speed bump in Michigan State. Winston will carry the Spartans to face the Blue Devils in the Elite Eight. From there, Duke will head to the Final Four.
Let’s see how it all plays out this weekend.