The Cinderella stories are what make the NCAA tournament so great, but a couple of these fairy tales will likely end in the Sweet 16.
The number of upsets in the tournament so far has been shocking. In fact, of the remaining 16 teams in the tourney, there are four who are ranked as a No. 9 seed or lower.
It’s a tough task for any Cinderella team to advance. Here are predictions for the games involving these surprising teams.
Oregon vs. Louisville
The Ducks are playing with a serious chip on their shoulder after only receiving a No. 12 seed despite a solid overall season. The team has focused because of it and is using the low seeding as motivation to prove the committee wrong.
However, the road will get a lot tougher for the Ducks when they face the No. 1 overall seed in Louisville. The Cardinals feature a strong offense and an even stronger defense that allows only 57.6 points per game while forcing an average of 19 turnovers.
Playing the No. 1 overall seed is not an easy task, especially one that forces as many mistakes as the Cardinals. The Ducks are a good team, but the fact that they average 15 turnovers as a team is not a good sign coming into the game. Get ready for Louisville to take advantage of that sloppy ball-handling and pull away in this game.
Predicted Score: Louisville 74, Oregon 65
Wichita State vs. La Salle
This game features two exciting teams that are both considered to be Cinderella stories by now, and that leads to a very interesting matchup.
The Shockers got here by defeating No. 8 Pittsburgh and then “shocking” the country by toppling Gonzaga. Meanwhile, La Salle has gone through Kansas State and Ole Miss, both very solid teams.
Cleanthony Early has been big for the Shockers so far in the tournament, and that will likely continue. He has scored 21 and 16 points in his first two games, and his performances have carried this team so far. He will do much of the same in the Sweet 16, and the Shockers will make this unlikely run continue.
Predicted Score: Wichita State 74, La Salle 70
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida
Which Cinderella story is most likely to advance?
By this point in the tournament, everyone is rooting for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. They were able to defeat Georgetown in their first-ever NCAA tournament game and then went on to easily handle San Diego State. They are the first-ever No. 15 seed to win two games in the tournament.
This will easily be the toughest matchup for the Eagles all season. The Gators feature three fantastic seniors in Erik Murphy, Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario. They combine for over 27 points per game while providing some excellent defense. In fact, the Gators defense is one of the best in the country, holding opponents to only 53.8 points per game.
As much as everyone loves “Dunk City,” the Gators defense is simply too dominant. They will end the Eagles’ first tournament run, but the program should be thrilled with how much success has come so quickly.
Predicted Score: Florida 68, Florida Gulf Coast 56
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