Just 16 teams are left in the 2013 NCAA tournament, and a few of the survivors have destroyed most brackets.
There has been no shortage of excitement in this year’s competition, with buzzer-beaters, upsets and vibrant personalities providing college basketball fans with endless storylines and entertainment.
But the remaining teams represent the elite squads in the nation, and those who needed luck to get to this point may not be so fortunate going forward.
Here are the challenges that each Cinderella is facing in the Sweet 16.
No. 13 La Salle
Opponent: No. 9 Wichita State
When: Thursday, March 28, 10:17 p.m. ET
Both of the teams in this matchup would be viewed as Cinderellas in the Elite Eight, but for now, La Salle owns this title.
The Explorers have followed Ramon Galloway’s hot hand past No. 4 Kansas State and No. 12 Ole Miss. But these were more favorable matchups than the one the team is facing in the Sweet 16.
Both the Wildcats and the Rebels are teams that rely on their offense and are vulnerable on defense. Wichita State, however, is a balanced team with few weaknesses.
The Shockers showed this by taking down No. 1 Gonzaga, and the team will be surging with confidence in this game. Even another impressive scoring night from Galloway won’t help La Salle in this one.
Prediction: Wichita State 71, La Salle 64
No. 12 Oregon
Opponent: No. 1 Louisville
When: Friday, March 29, 7:15 p.m. ET
Louisville received the top overall seed in this year’s tournament and has done nothing but prove the selection committee right during each minute it has spent on the floor.
A blowout over No. 16 North Carolina A&T did not mean much, but the Cardinals’ demolition of a solid No. 8 Colorado State team showed how talented Rick Pitino’s squad really is.
The Ducks, in contrast, have done nothing but prove the selection committee wrong for giving the Pac-12 tournament champs a No. 12 seed. Their convincing victory over No. 4 Saint Louis was as unexpected as it was impressive.
But Oregon has not faced a team like Louisville yet, and it will have no answer for the team’s smothering defense. Louisville will keep rolling in this game.
Prediction: Louisville 66, Oregon 54
No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast
Opponent: No. 3 Florida
When: Friday, March 29, 9:57 p.m. ET
Which Cinderella has the best chance to reach the Elite Eight?
Florida Gulf Coast has become the fan favorite at this year’s tournament. This is an underdog team full of players with big personalities. Also, they have a love affair with lobs.
The Eagles are flat out fun to watch, and their wins over No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State were both thrilling from start to finish. But they were also very similar matchups.
Both the Hoyas and the Aztecs are extremely stout defensive teams that rely on one star player to lead the offense. Florida, however, is an entirely different beast.
The Gators have a balanced offense and a defense even better than the two teams Florida Gulf Coast has faced. Even if the underdog Eagles are able to put up points, Billy Donovan’s team will outscore them on the other end of the floor.
Prediction: Florida 78, Florida Gulf Coast 70
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