The Sweet 16 is one of the greatest moments of the NCAA tournament, but most fans are destined to be at least a little disappointed by round's end. This is usually when the great teams are separated from the elite, which means some shocking eliminations.
I mean, come on. Who doesn't remember the shock and awe that swept Madness fans nationwide when No. 4 seed Kentucky took out top-seeded Ohio State in 2011, thanks to a final-second jumper from guard Brandon Knight?
This year's tourney is no exception. The pool of teams is incredibly deep, from well-established programs to ones nobody even saw getting this far, but not all of them can win.
The fact is that this year's Sweet 16 will be chock-full of great games, and each and every one will be incredibly close. It's hard to say who all the winners will be, but this small handful of teams will definitely be headed home after the final buzzer.
Tom Izzo has done a great job of having the No. 3 seed Spartans contending year after year, but he and the team will face a different type of monster in No. 2 seed Mike Krzyzewski-led Duke. While Michigan State has some great interior players in Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix, to say that it has shooters effective enough to keep up with those of the Blue Devils is a bit of a stretch.
This is where Duke can and will run the table. The team ranked sixth in the nation in scoring and 17th in field-goal percentage. Not only can the Blue Devils put points on the board, but they can do so quite effectively.
Moreover, Duke has multiple weapons who can get hot and stay that way, while Michigan State tends to be a bit streaky on the offensive end. It's going to be a close game from start to finish, but the Spartans just don't have what it takes to keep up with the opposition in this case.
The Jayhawks may be a No. 1 seed, but star guard Ben McLemore's weak tourney is a giant red flag going into this game. The redshirt freshman has averaged just 6.5 points and shot 14 percent from the field this tournament, not sinking a single three-pointer. Seeing as how he made a name for himself this season as a great scorer and shooter, this is a problem.
It also doesn't help that No. 4 seed Michigan has a deadly backcourt tandem of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., both of whom did an excellent job of getting past the havoc defense of VCU in the round of 32.
Kansas is a good team, but McLemore's case of freshmanitis doesn't appear to be getting any better. Plus, Burke and Hardaway are going to be in overdrive after stunning VCU.
Unless the Jayhawks can find a way to stop the smaller and faster Wolverines, their tourney will almost definitely come to an end in the Sweet 16.
Florida Gulf Coast
Sorry, America, but the Eagles' tournament momentum is going to run out against the No. 3 seed Gators. Florida just has too much tourney experience under Billy Donovan, including two championships in 2006 and 2007, and the team's balanced attack has shone bright in the tourney thus far in spite of the fact that it was the strongest team in a weak SEC.
As fun as Florida Gulf Coast's fast-paced game is to watch, dunks and all, their lack of solid post players will hurt its chances. Without viable bodies to keep up with Patric Young or Erik Murphy, the Eagles are going to have a hard time keeping the Gators at bay.
This means that the clock will strike midnight on this Cinderella story, leaving those who fell in love with FGCU with nothing to do but wait until next year.