Sweet 16 Basketball Bracket: Upset Picks and Predictions

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Keith Appling #11 of the Michigan State Spartans drives the ball against Tyler Thornton #3 of the Duke Blue Devils during the 2011 State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The NCAA tournament has already narrowed down from 68 teams to only 16. Fortunately, the best games are still ahead of us.

We have already seen plenty of surprises in the first few rounds. Gonzaga was the first No. 1 seed to go down with a loss to No. 9 Wichita State. Harvard got its first tournament win with an upset over New Mexico.

However, the most shocking team of the first weekend has to be Florida Gulf Coast, which became the first No. 15 seed ever to reach the Sweet 16 after beating Georgetown and San Diego State.

It is tough to imagine what else can happen in this crazy tournament. Still, we will try with some predictions for the next round of games.



Follow along with Bleacher Report's live bracket. For a printable bracket, click here.


Full Schedule



Start Time


(3) Marquette vs. (2) Miami (FL)

Thursday, Mar. 28

7:15 p.m.


(6) Arizona vs. (2) Ohio State

Thursday, Mar. 28

7:47 p.m.


(4) Syracuse vs. (1) Indiana

Thursday, Mar. 28 

9:45 p.m.


(13) La Salle vs. (9) Wichita State

Thursday, Mar. 28 

10:17 p.m.


(12) Oregon vs. (1) Louisville

Friday, Mar. 29

7:15 p.m.


(4) Michigan vs. (1) Kansas

Friday, Mar. 29 

7:37 p.m.


(3) Michigan State vs. (2) Duke

Friday, Mar. 29 

9:45 p.m.


(15) Florida Gulf Coast vs. (3) Florida

Friday, Mar. 29 

10:07 p.m.




Midwest Region - Indianapolis

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 12 Oregon

Shooting comes and goes, but the teams that are able to make sustained runs succeed on defense. This is why Louisville has won 12 in a row; the Cardinals apply enough pressure that opposing teams cannot hold onto the ball.

In order to beat them, you need an experienced backcourt that can make smart decisions and avoid turnovers. Unfortunately, Oregon simply does not have that.

The Ducks were very impressive in their two wins over Saint Louis and Oklahoma State, but they turned the ball over 18 times in each contest. Like most freshmen, point guard Dominic Artis has some good days and bad days, while the rest of the squad does not help him out too much.

This is not a new issue, as Oregon ranks last in the Pac-12 with 14.9 turnovers per game. That will be all Louisville needs to run away with this one.

Louisville 75, Oregon 61


No. 2 Duke vs. No. 3 Michigan State

The first thing you should notice in this is the coaching matchup between Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski. With 17 Final Fours between them, you might not find a better pair of postseason coaches.

That coaching will come up big between two squads that are pretty evenly matched.

Duke comes in with one of the best offenses in the country thanks to its ability to hit the three-point shot. Five players in the rotation have made over 38 percent of outside shots this season.

However, Michigan State is very good at defending the three. The Spartans rank among the top 20 in the nation after allowing opponents to shoot only 29.8 percent from behind the arc (via TeamRankings.com).

The Blue Devils will struggle to put points on the board, and Michigan State will be much more comfortable in a low-scoring game.

Prediction: Michigan State 64, Duke 62


South Region - Arlington, Texas

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Michigan

Michigan has had an up-and-down season, and the squad was given a No. 4 seed after hitting one of its low points. However, this is still one of the best teams in the country.

This is especially true if freshman Mitch McGary can continue to play like he did against VCU. The big man finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds and was a force inside throughout the game.

Obviously it is tough to expect these numbers consistently, but his motor will give Michigan some balance inside against Jeff Withey of Kansas. At that point it will come down to point-guard play, where the Wolverines have a big advantage with Trey Burke.

Unless Ben McLemore finds his shooting stroke soon and has a huge game, the top seed is going down.

Prediction: Michigan 78, Kansas 71


No. 3 Florida vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast

This was not the in-state matchup that anyone was expecting to see during the tournament. However, you cannot deny how well Florida Gulf Coast has played recently.

The Eagles have shown an incredible amount of athleticism, and point guard Brett Comer has 24 assists in two games so far.

However, the defense has not really been tested so far with two subpar offenses in Georgetown and San Diego State. Meanwhile, Florida is much more dangerous with the inside-outside game of Erik Murphy, plus four other scorers averaging at least nine points per game.

In addition, the Gators will not let Florida Gulf Coast sneak up on them with a week to prepare for the offense.

The No. 15 seed should put up a fight, but the Cinderella run should end next round.

Prediction: Florida 73, Florida Gulf Coast 65


East Region - Washington D.C.

No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Syracuse

Until Syracuse cures its second-half struggles, it is almost impossible to trust the squad to win a game. 

The Orange went 12 minutes without a field goal against California in the last game, and this has been a common theme over the past month. They collapsed against Louisville in the Big East tournament finals, and barely held on against Pittsburgh two games before with 40 first-half points and only 22 second-half points.

Meanwhile, Indiana has shown great resolve to comeback in games, like it did against Temple in the last round.

With the Hoosiers' ability to shoot over the 2-3 zone (40.8 percent from three-point range as a team) or get rebounds (24th in the nation in rebounds per game), they should be able to get a win in this one.

Prediction: Indiana 71, Syracuse 67


No. 2 Miami (FL) vs. No. 3 Marquette

Both teams barely escaped upsets to reach the Sweet 16, but none of that matters at this point. In this round, everyone starts fresh.

The difference between these squads is what happens when they start to struggle. Marquette will look to Vander Blue to take over, which he did against Butler. However, it is hard to trust one player who averages 14.3 points per game to score 29 points again.

Conversely, Miami has a number of veteran stars to trust when the going gets tough. Shane Larkin is usually the go-to player, but Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott and even Rion Brown are all capable of a big game.

This balance will make it tough for the Golden Eagles to defend, and Miami should be able to live up to the seed with a win here.

Prediction: Miami 67, Marquette 65


West Region - Los Angeles 

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 13 La Salle

This is exactly what the committee expected when it made brackets, right? Well, maybe not. Still, these are two very talented teams that are here because of great play, not luck. 

Then again, it is tough to imagine Wichita State being able to make 14-of-28 three-point shots again like it did against Gonzaga, especially considering the squad only hit 33.7 percent of outside shots this season.

On the other hand, La Salle has shown its ability to score in multiple ways throughout the tournament. With three players who average at least 13 points per game, the Explorers can lean on any of them to come through with a big play or two late in the game.

Wichita State has a good defense, but La Salle will be too tough to stop.

Prediction: La Salle 84, Wichita State 79


No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Arizona

Ohio State has been looking for secondary scorers all season long to complement Deshaun Thomas. It got that in a big way from Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross in the last round against Iowa State.

While the Cyclones gave this squad fits, it was mostly due to the team's ability to make three-point shots and rebound. Arizona can shoot from the outside, but it is not as good on the glass as Iowa State.

Aaron Craft is a veteran point guard who has shown he can handle both physical and mental pressure in a big game. He should be able survive the tough defense that the Wildcats show throughout the game and avoid turnovers.

Arizona has not really been challenged yet this postseason, but the team will be exposed by Ohio State.

Prediction: Ohio State 69, Arizona 60


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