NCAA Basketball Tournament: Sweet 16 Predictions and Analysis

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IMarch 25, 2013

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 23:  Players for the Michigan Wolverines react on the bench in the second half against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Palace of Auburn Hills on March 23, 2013 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The first three rounds of the 2013 NCAA tournament were amazing, but the best has yet to come as the Sweet 16 is set to kick off on Thursday, March 28.

Florida Gulf Coast knocked off Georgetown (No. 2) and San Diego State (No. 7) to become the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 in NCAA history. Twelfth-seeded Oregon and 13th-seeded La Salle also made it to the Sweet 16.

Top-seeded Indiana, Kansas and Louisville all made it through, while Gonzaga fell to the Wichita State Shockers in the round of 32. 

There are eight big games on the slate for this next round, and we've got predictions and analysis for each one.

Miami (2) vs. Marquette (3)

When: March 28 at 7:15 p.m. ET

Prediction: Miami Will Win

Both teams enter this game having just won nail-biters against stiff competition. 

Vander Blue has been phenomenal for the Golden Eagles in the team's first two games. He has scored 45 points, including 19 points in the second half against Butler, and he hit the game-winner in the round of 64 against Davidson at the last second.

Jamil Wilson has also played well for Marquette, but the Golden Eagles haven't gotten consistent scoring from any other players.

The Hurricanes have a more consistent offensive attack than Marquette. 

Shane Larkin struggled with his shooting touch in the team's first game of the tourney, but he dished out nine assists. His ability to affect his team's offense without scoring a ton of points is invaluable. 

Kenny Kadji will dominate the paint in this upcoming contest, as Marquette doesn't feature a strong frontcourt. 

In the end, Miami's bigger, stronger frontcourt will out-rebound and out-work Marquette down low, leading to a victory for the Hurricanes.

Ohio State (2) vs. Arizona (6)

When: March 28 at 7:47 p.m. ET

Prediction: Arizona Will Win

Ohio State was almost knocked out of the tournament in the round of 32, but Aaron Craft's last-second three-point shot gave the Buckeyes a three-point victory over Iowa State.

Arizona, on the other hand, has cruised through the first two games, holding their opponents to a combined 115 points while scoring 155 points. 

Senior guard Mark Lyons has been unstoppable for the Wildcats, scoring 50 points in his first two games of the tourney. Arizona has gotten a balanced scoring effort from the rest of the starters, as well as some solid production from its bench.

Junior forward Deshaun Thomas has been unstoppable for the Buckeyes, but Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski will make his life difficult in the paint. 

Ohio State doesn't have an answer for Lyons, which gives Arizona the edge in this matchup. 

Indiana (1) vs. Syracuse (4)

When: March 28 at 9:45 p.m. ET

Prediction: Indiana Will Win

You can never count Jim Boeheim's Orange out, but Indiana is simply too good to be beaten by Syracuse.

One of the highest-scoring teams in the nation during the regular season, the Hoosiers proved they could win with defense in the round of 32. They defeated a feisty Temple squad by a score of 58-52, despite the fact that Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls struggled from the field. 

Cody Zeller is incredibly consistent and difficult to defend down low, while Victor Oladipo is a dangerous shooter from the perimeter. 

C.J. Fair is a good player who has been playing well, but he won't be able to stop Zeller. Brandon Triche will need to have the game of his life for Syracuse to win, and he struggled with his shooting touch against California, hitting just one of eight field-goal attempts.

Indiana is one of the strongest teams in the field, and it will move on to the Elite Eight after this contest.

Wichita State (9) vs. La Salle (13) 

When: March 28 at 10:17 p.m. ET

Prediction: Wichita State Will Win

After watching the Shockers outplay Gonzaga in the round of 32, it's tough to pick against them.

La Salle drew a favorable matchup in the same round, facing 12th-seeded Mississippi. The Explorers won both of their games in this tournament by two points, which can't be discounted, but Wichita State seems to be on an unstoppable roll right now.

Junior forward Cleanthony Early has been playing his best ball of the season for the Shockers, and his ability to score inside and out makes him one of the most dangerous players in this game.

If Ron Baker and the rest of the team's shooters come out hot like they did against Gonzaga, this game will be over quickly.

If La Salle's three top guards struggle at all from the perimeter, the game could be over before halftime. 

Louisville (1) vs. Oregon (12)

When: March 29 at 7:15 p.m. ET

Prediction: Louisville Will Win

Oregon has been impressive in its two games thus far in the tourney, but the Ducks will be sent packing by Louisville in the Sweet 16. 

Louisville's swarming defense will put more pressure on Oregon's guards than they've faced all year.

Oregon gave up 15.1 turnovers per game this past season, which ranked No. 299 in the NCAA. The Cardinals averaged 11 steals per contest this past year, which ranked No. 2 in the nation. 

As good as Damyean Dotson has been, he's going to have a nightmare of a game against Russ Smith and Peyton Siva on the perimeter.

Louisville's defense will force too many mistakes for the Ducks to overcome, and the Cardinals will easily move on to the Elite Eight.

Kansas (1) vs. Michigan (4)

When: March 29 at 7:37 p.m. ET

Prediction: Michigan Will Win

Bill Self has never lost to Michigan, winning all eight of his contests against the Wolverines (h/t Nick Baumgardner of 

Kansas overcame a poor first half against North Carolina to come away with a convincing win in the round of 32, but the Jayhawks haven't looked sharp in either of the two games thus far in the tournament. 

Michigan, on the other hand, has looked like a champion in its first two contests. The Wolverines feature a couple of playmaking guards in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., while freshmen forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III have been dominant down low.

Kansas doesn't have a reliable point guard, which spells trouble against Michigan. If senior center Jeff Withey gets into early foul trouble, the Wolverines might run away with this game. 

Duke (2) vs. Michigan State (3)

When: March 29 at 9:45 p.m. ET

Prediction: Duke Will Win

One of the biggest rivalries in men's college basketball, Duke vs. Michigan State is always a matchup worth watching. 

With Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon and Mason Plumlee leading the way for the Blue Devils, Duke looks like a team capable of winning the tournament this year. 

The biggest key for Duke will be whether or not its big men can outwork Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne down low. If Nix and Payne are allowed to dominate the glass, Michigan State will win. 

The bottom line in this contest is that senior guard Curry is a player to be trusted in pressure situations. This game is likely to go down to the wire, and Curry has the game to make the right play in crunch time. 

Florida (3) vs. FGCU (15)

When: March 29 at 9:57 p.m. ET

Prediction: Florida Will Win

Florida Gulf Coast's Cinderella story will unfortunately not continue into the Elite Eight.

The Eagles have trounced Georgetown and San Diego State on their way to the Sweet 16, but the Gators are ready to end their improbable run on Friday.

Florida's defense is stifling. It allowed less than 54 points per game during the regular season (No. 3 in the nation) and held its first two opponents in this tournament to a combined 111 points.

Florida also led the nation in scoring differential, finishing the season with a plus-18.2 scoring margin. 

Florida Gulf Coast has gotten this far in the tournament by putting up big points totals, but their scoring frenzy will be shut down in the Sweet 16.

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