2019 March Madness: Top 5 Sweet Sixteen Matchups
From a field of 68 teams, the NCAA tournament has whittled down the competitors to a mere group of 16 schools — all vying for the greatest prize in college basketball. Nitrogen Sports Blog has reviewed eight of the Sweet 16 matchups and chose the five best games of this March Madness 2019 round.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Duke Blue Devils
The last time these teams met, Virginia Tech came away with a 77-72 win at home in February, though, Duke was without Zion Williamson back then. Duke is known for its uptempo game, so expect the Blue Devils to push the ball up the court as much as possible.
With Zion back in the lineup, they have a dominant force to help them win the rebounding battle and a clear go-to guy who can fully take advantage of mismatches. The Hokies play solid defense and will have an all-time school assist leader in Justin Robinson, who was also out in the first meeting with Duke this season. This game could come down to the wire.
Auburn Tigers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
Auburn and North Carolina will face off in what could be the most electrifying of all the NCAA Sweet 16 matchups. Everyone is expecting this one to be fast-paced and a high-flying game.
North Carolina is playing its best basketball of the season and Auburn is riding a 10-game win streak. The Tigers are being carried by their scorching form from deep, having drained 25 3-pointers over their first two games of the tournament.
As for the Tar Heels, they also have the firepower to match that of Auburn, as they are averaging 84.5 points per game thus far in March Madness.
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Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Florida State Seminoles
Don’t worry, you’re not looking at last year’s bracket. Gonzaga and Florida State will meet again in the Sweet Sixteen after facing off in the exact same setting last year. Now Gonzaga is looking for revenge after the Seminoles took it to the higher-seeded Bulldogs in 2018.
Gonzaga will look to overpower FSU with a run-and-gun attack and a high-octane offense that ranked first in the nation during the regular season. But the Seminoles can have success if they can duplicate the tight brand of defense the St. Mary’s Gaels used to contain Gonzaga in the WCC tournament finals.
Houston Cougars vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky’s best player, PJ Washington, is banged up. If he is not 100 percent healthy, Kentucky could be in trouble.
The Cougars are a relentless team that fights for each possession, a quality that makes their meeting with John Calipari’s boys among the most anticipated Sweet 16 matchups this 2019.
They’ve shown they can beat any team in the nation by defeating three ranked teams in the regular season and by victimizing the Georgia State Panthers and the Ohio State Buckeyes in March Madness.
But Reid Travis has been on fire for the Wildcats this month. He is averaging a double-double in the tournament while playing stellar defense in the middle. He’ll have to continue his great play to overcome another possible absence of Washington in the Cougars game.
LSU Tigers vs. Michigan State Spartans
Tom Izzo always seems to get his team to respond well in March. The Spartans are one of the most efficient offensive teams in college basketball, led by a do-it-all guard in Cassius Winston.
His matchup with LSU court general Tremont Waters is a highly anticipated backcourt showdown. Both players have been critical to the success of their respective teams in the tournament. But LSU is a feisty team that is comfortable in the underdog role. Look for the Tigers to get a little rough and play a physical game against the Spartans.
This year’s March Madness is lacking quite a bit of upset compared to previous editions of the Big Dance. For one, all No. 1 seeds have managed to avoid all the traps set by Cinderella wannabes in the previous two rounds.
Still, the Sweet 16 matchups offer a new hope for upset-hungry basketball fans to see a top seed crumble in the 2019 March Madness.
Will at least one of Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, or Gonzaga fall in the next round against their respective opponents mentioned in this March Madness guide? Or will all of those schools’ names remain untouched in the NCAA bracket?