March Madness 2013 Bracket: Predicting Friday's Sweet 16 Action

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY - MARCH 23: Luke Hancock #11 and Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrate after a play against the Colorado State Rams in the first half during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Rupp Arena on March 23, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

After what was an electric Thursday night, the Sweet 16 will wrap up on Friday.

There is a good combination of games on the schedule. Fans don't need to search at all to find plenty of compelling reasons to watch.

You've got a matchup of college basketball giants—Michigan State vs. Duke Blue Devils—two of the hottest teams in the tourney—Oregon Ducks vs. Louisville Cardinals and a Cinderella looking to continue its improbable run—Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.

Predicting how the games will unfold has proven to be rather hazardous to your health in this year's tournament. There are few teams you would feel absolutely confident in choosing to win the title, even at this stage.

Despite any previous warning, here is how each game could end.


No. 1 Louisville Cardinals vs. No. 12 Oregon Ducks, 7:15 p.m. ET

The immovable force meets the irresistible object. These have been arguably the best teams in the tournament so far.

Louisville has been by far the strongest top seed. The Cardinals have yet to look weak and made easy work of their first two opponents. The selection committee clearly made a mistake when it put the Oregon Ducks as the 12th seed in the Midwest Region. It's taken a bit of the glitter out of the Ducks' strong run.

Damyean Dotson has stepped his game up in the tournament. He's gone for 17 points and 23 points in Oregon's two tourney wins.

No matter what Dotson does, though, it will be hard for the Ducks to overcome Russ Smith. He's one of the few star players in the tournament and has played up to that level so far. Smith should be able to help Louisville comfortably reach the Elite Eight.

Prediction: Louisville 81, Oregon 69


No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 4 Michigan Wolverines, 7:37 p.m. ET

Ben McLemore needs to find his shooting stroke. He went 0-9 from the floor and only scored two points in Kansas' 70-58 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels. It followed his 2-of-5 performance in the Jayhawks' first win.

Having your top scorer underwhelm so much would be fatal to a team's tournament run. Travis Releford and Jeff Withey did a very good job of covering up for McLemore against the Heels, but Kansas may not get so lucky again.

Michigan looked very strong in its win against VCU. The Wolverines were better than the Rams in every area. Kansas has looked very sluggish so far and will have problems trying to shut down Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. Withey can have another big game, but the Wolverines are the best team the Jayhawks have encountered in the tournament and will make Kansas' mistakes hurt.

Prediction: Michigan 77, Kansas 72


No. 2 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 3 Michigan State Spartans, 9:45 p.m. ET

Michigan State will look to win the game in the paint. The Spartans could be in trouble considering the Duke Blue Devils can call upon Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee.

Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix have been very good in the tournament. In the 70-48 win over the Memphis Tigers, the two combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds. They give Michigan State the advantage in terms of post play, but the biggest problem could come from the guards.

The Spartans need to find an answer for the trio of Seth Curry, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon. If the Duke offense gets going, Michigan State will find it difficult to keep up.

Prediction: Duke 78, Michigan State 71


No. 3 Florida Gators vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, 10:07 p.m. ET

The Eagles don't look to have enough to get past the Florida Gators. Billy Donovan has built his side into being one of the most stingy teams in the country. Florida Gulf Coast has earned the label "Dunk City" with its prolific highlights from the first two games.

It will find making those kind of plays will be much harder this time around. FGCU earned a victory over the San Diego State Aztecs, but Georgetown could be chalked up in large part to the element of surprise. The Hoyas took the Eagles lightly and paid for it.

Florida will be sure not to make that mistake again. Kenny Boynton has struggled in the tournament, but that's not gonna be enough to cost the Gators a spot in the Elite Eight.

Prediction: Florida 79, Florida Gulf Coast 62


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