On Tuesday night, Saint Mary's advanced in a Midwest Region play-in game, defeating Middle Tennessee 67-54, while North Carolina A&T advanced in the Midwest Region's play-in game, defeating Liberty 73-72.
For their trouble, Saint Mary's will now face Memphis in the Round of 64, while North Carolina A&T will play Louisville. So, how will each outcome impact this year's tournament?
Let's keep it real here—there isn't a chance in hell Louisville is going to lose to North Carolina A&T. It wouldn't just be the biggest upset in college basketball history, it would likely go down as one of the biggest upsets in sports history, period.
And while I don't think you should sleep on Saint Mary's, I don't think it will pull off the upset against Memphis. The Tigers are a really tough matchup for Saint Mary's, since Memphis has great depth and plays a pressure system that will wear down a thin Gaels roster.
Plus, the Tigers shoot well from beyond the arc (37.3 percent, 47th in the country) while Saint Mary's plays terrible three-point defense (allowing opponents to shoot 37.2 percent from beyond the arc, 311th in the country).
Matthew Dellavedova is a stud (15.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG), but he won't be able to lead the Gaels to the Round of 32 or beyond.
So I don't have any changes from my projections in this region. I like Louisville, Saint Louis, Michigan State and Creighton to advance to the Sweet 16.
Yes, you read that right, I like Creighton over Duke.
Doug McDermott (23.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG) and the Bluejays offense—24th in the nation in scoring (75.4 points per game), fifth in assists per game (17.2), first in field-goal percentage (.508), second in three-point percentage (.427) and sixth in offensive efficiency (according to KenPom.com)—will shoot its way past the Blue Devils.
In the first matchup, I like Louisville over a very tough Saint Louis squad. This is really the worst possible scenario for Saint Louis, a balanced team that plays excellent defense but doesn't have the athletes Louisville possesses and won't be able to dictate the tempo against the Cardinals' press defense.
Saint Louis' best shot is if Louisville goes into one of its shooting funks and Saint Louis consistently beats the press and keeps the game's tempo slow. But I don't see Louisville bowing out this early.
In the other Sweet 16 matchup, all you need to know is this—don't bet against a Tom Izzo team in March, especially not in the Sweet 16. Michigan State's efficiency on both sides of the floor and ability to dominate the glass will be too tough for Creighton to overcome.
From there, I like Louisville to grind out a win against Michigan State and advance all the way to the national championship game, where they'll lose to Indiana.
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