There are no certainties when it comes to 2013 March Madness picks.
This season’s college basketball performances have showed us all a glimpse of a league that has more parity than perhaps any other major sporting association.
The NCAA and its system are far from perfect, but this season has been a tremendous example of the good it permits.
Still, there are some teams that are playing at a very high level and should almost surely be able to come away with wins on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16.
Cinderellas rarely last longer than their initial surprise, leading to things gravitating back toward normalcy as we progress closer to the Final Four.
We’ll take a look at three teams below who will almost certainly advance after strong round of 32 performances.
San Diego State (7) over Florida Gulf Coast (15)
The San Diego State Aztecs were a disappointment for the most part this season. They never really lived up to the hype of their preseason ranking of No. 20 in the nation. But things are beginning to come together for a dynamic team that has some of the most experienced players in this tournament.
Florida Gulf Coast became just the seventh No. 15 seed to even make it this far in the tournament after their impressive ouster of Georgetown. How many of those six other Cinderellas ended up winning their next matchups?
The answer is none.
A No. 15 seed has never won a round of 32 matchup. While we’d like to believe in the power of the underdog here, the Aztecs are just far too disciplined, experienced and deep to allow the feisty Eagles to score their second straight upset.
Ohio State (2) over Iowa State (10)
The Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t breeze through Iona, their second-round opponent, but they did play Buckeyes basketball by controlling the pace of the game and ultimately distancing themselves in the second half.
Their depth, especially in their frontcourt, is something many teams in this tournament covet. It will help them in this one, too, as they will need every advantage against a high-scoring Cyclones team that barraged Notre Dame with a 42.9 percent three-point-shooting average.
The game is also being played in Dayton, Ohio, a mere one hour and 15 minutes from Columbus. Ohio State has also made it to the Sweet 16 in each of the last three seasons under Thad Matta.
Neither fact bodes well for Iowa State.
We see them applying their tenacious defense, winning the battle in the post and advancing again for the fourth year in a row—for the first time in school history, according to AP’s game preview (via ESPN).
Miami (2) over Illinois (7)
The Big Ten has had an impressive run this season, making Illinois battle tested for its upcoming showdown against the Miami Hurricanes. Unfortunately, the Fighting Illini are not as well rounded or skilled as the top teams in their conference—or the Hurricanes, for that matter.
Fortunately for Miami, it is skilled all over the court and has the athletic advantage over its opponents. Chalk up a heavy advantage in favor of the Hurricanes.
They also score in droves and are capable of blowing games out of proportion in a quick manner. Alternately, the Fighting Illini pick and choose their spots, relying on Brandon Paul to jump start their offense.
If Illinois can slow the game down and keep it close, it may be able to score the surprising upset. But the Hurricanes, in our opinion, will be too much and will eliminate them decisively to move on to the Sweet 16.