Midwest Sweet 16 Preview: Feat. UNC, Ohio State and NC State
Well, that went well. I’ve dragged myself out of the doldrums of post-Hoya-loss disappointment just for you, dear readers. There should be some pretty compelling basketball on TV as two double-digit seeds have made it to the semifinals of the Midwest bracket, and look to make a run so deep into the tournament that every ESPN anchor runs out of glass slipper jokes. The first double-digit seed is NC State who, oddly enough, I harbor no animosity towards for unceremoniously dumping the Hoyas out of the tournament. These things happen when you don’t box out. The other double-digit seed is a school whose name I will endeavor to not use because I’m a bitter, bitter man and hold really long grudges. Oh and as if that weren’t interesting enough, UNC’s injury list is getting rather ridiculous while Kansas barely escaped a Robbie-Hummel led — but otherwise uninspiring — Purdue squad in the second round.
Predictions after the jump…
No. 1 UNC vs No. 13 Seed
So, Kendall Marshall has a broken wrist. Teams who rely heavily on point guards with broken wrists for their playmaking, as Georgetown fans well know, tend to be unsuccessful against good teams. The team they’re playing isn’t that good, but they’ve made an annoying habit of winning NCAA tournament games against higher seeds in the past few years. Despite Marshall’s injury, UNC can still field a ridiculous amount of NBA-ready talent. A recent ESPN mock draft has five UNC players going in the first fifteen picks of the NBA draft. No, that’s not a typo. Apparently Harrison Barnes (5), James McAdoo (7), Tyler Zeller (11), Marshall (12) and John Henson (15) are just that good. As unlikely as it is that that scenario will play out, that’s a pretty resounding endorsement of the talent that Roy Williams has assembled in Chapel Hill. Then again, if I were a supertalented high school basketball player and someone offered me the chance to go to a school where hating Duke was even more of a way of life than it is anywhere else, I’d be extremely tempted.
Oh and in case you’re wondering, the 13-seed has nobody projected to go in the first round of the draft. Which doesn’t really matter since they’re in the same place as the vaunted Tar Heels, but whatever. I’m bitter.
Prediction: UNC 74, Opponents 62
No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 11 NC State
Kansas beat Georgetown 67-63 in Maui earlier this year. NC State beat Georgetown 66-63 last weekend. Seems pretty clear-cut, no? Kansas by one: 67-66.
Seriously, though, this has the potential to be a pretty awesome game. The Wolfpack have a very talented frontcourt in CJ Leslie and Richard Howell, but they’ll have their hands full with Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. You might remember Robinson as that dude who dunked all over the Hoyas in Maui… you probably don’t remember Withey because the Kansas coaching staff took its sweet time this year to convince the seven-foot center that committing a foul every 30 seconds is actually a bad thing. Tyshawn Taylor is also more than capable of taking a game over and as long as the Jayhawks avoid leaving Scott Wood open for threes every time they need a stop, they should be fine.
Prediction: Kansas 70, NC State 57
Photo credit: Rock Chalk Jayhawk.