Sweet 16 Bracket: Predicting Midwest Region's Clashes
After Duke took care of Creighton on Sunday in the round of 32, the Sweet 16 field for the Midwest region is set.
The second-seeded Blue Devils will take on No. 3 seed Michigan State, while No. 1 seed Louisville will battle with No. 12 seed Oregon.
Will the Ducks continue their magical Cinderella story? After dispatching high-scoring Creighton, will Duke continue to play solid defense?
Here's a look at each matchup, complete with my predictions.
Louisville (1) vs. Oregon (12)
Oregon has been one of the biggest surprises in the 2013 NCAA tournament, knocking off No. 5 seed Oklahoma State and No. 4 seed Saint Louis en route to the Sweet 16.
Oregon's offensive barrage against defensive-minded Saint Louis in the round of 32 was noteworthy, given the Ducks ranked 97th in field-goal percentage during the regular season. If the Ducks can continue to knock it down, they have a shot against Louisville.
Ultimately, however, I don't like Oregon against Louisville's pressure defense. The Ducks rank 144th in turnover rate. The Cardinals rank second in opponents' turnover rate. In their first two wins of the tournament, the Cardinals forced a combined 44 turnovers while outscoring North Carolina A&T and Colorado State by a combined 57 points.
Also, while Oregon ranks 16th in defensive efficiency, Louisville ranks 24th in offensive efficiency. The Cardinals find a way to score points without being a very good shooting team.
Prediction: Louisville advances
Michigan State (3) vs. Duke (2)
Which two teams will advance to the Elite Eight?
This figures to be a great matchup. Not only are both teams at relatively the same level, they are also coached by two legends in Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo.
Duke's defensive performance against Creighton on Sunday in the round of 32 was very encouraging, given the Blue Devils have had troubles on that side of the ball throughout the course of the season. The Blue Devils found a way to stop Doug McDermott and Creighton when so many teams couldn't.
That being said, Michigan State ranked 50th in the nation in field-goal percentage during the regular season. The Spartans also exploded against a rugged, athletic defensive team in Memphis, shooting 50 percent against the Tigers in their 70-48 victory in the round of 32.
The Spartans rank 30th in opponents' shooting percentage and 23rd in defensive efficiency. They have the ability to limit Duke offensively.
Michigan State also has the advantage in rebounding. The Spartans rank 13th in rebounding rate, while the Blue Devils rank 204th in that category.
If the Blue Devils get hot from the floor, they could run away with this one. That being said, I don't see them exploding against Michigan State's defense.
Prediction: Michigan State advances
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