75% of the teams that made the NCAA tournament have been sent packing after the first weekend of action. Only 16 teams remain, and not one person on Yahoo Sports! or ESPN.com had a perfect bracket heading into this coming round of games. There are 4 games taking place both Thursday and Friday nights with a trip to the regional finals on the line for each team.

4 of the 16 teams, Northern Iowa, Cornell, Washington, and St. Mary’s are seeded 9th or lower and not many basketball experts had these schools sitting only two games away from a trip to Indianapolis for the Final Four. St. Mary’s may be the exception, they’ve been a very good team all year and soundly defeated a struggling Villanova squad. Every match-up both Thursday and Friday should be exciting, and I’ve taken the time to give my personal breakdown and prediction for each game, all the way to Indianapolis.

West Region

5 Butler vs. 1 Syracuse

Syracuse absolutely dominated Gonzaga last Sunday, without their best inside player Arinze Onuaku. Butler was able to squeak by 13 seeded Murray State and keep its dreams alive for a trip to the Final Four in its own back yard of Indianapolis. That being said, with or without Onuaku, the Bulldogs again (Gonzaga is the Bulldogs as well) won’t be able to keep up with the Orange. They are too fast in transition with their guard play and Wesley Johnson cannot be guarded by anyone on the Butler roster. Look for it to be a close game in the first half, but for the speed and skill of Syracuse to take over in the 2nd half.

Prediction: Syracuse 84 Butler 74

2 Kansas State vs. 6 Xavier

This is a very interesting match-up because both teams play a similar style offense. They move up and down the court quickly and can score in bunches. Kansas State soundly defeated BYU in Round 2, another high scoring team. Jimmer Fredette was held to 5-13 shooting as Kansas State defended well and shot the ball well in their advance Salt Lake City. While Xavier is a similar team, they don’t play in the power conference that K State and most other teams still alive in the tournament play in. The Atlantic 10 is a very respectable conference but it doesn’t consistently boast the size a team like Kansas State has. They were able to defeat a Pittsburgh team last week by playing solid defense and not letting Pitt overpower them like K State will try and do. Look for Xavier to slow the game down and force K State to beat them in a half court game.

Prediction: Xavier 60 Kansas State 56

East Region

11 Washington vs. 2 West Virginia

Washington has played excellent basketball the last few weeks and it seems like it finally has come together for the Huskies. This team doesn’t have the talent of an 11 seed, it is more of a team with a 4 or 5 seed. Big things were expected out of the Huskies this year but their youth kept that from happening until only a couple weeks ago. West Virginia on the other hand, has played solid all year, and captured its first Big East Championship in school history. The loss of Darryl “Truck” Bryant is going to hurt the Mountaineers though. Losing a starting point guard couldn’t have come at a worse time, but West Virginia is a team led by De’Sean Butler that has resolved all season long, and don’t expect that to change now.

Prediction: West Virginia 64 Washington 58

1 Kentucky vs. 12 Cornell

A college basketball power house versus, an Ivy League team in the Sweet 16? Cornell isn’t your typical Ivy League, slow paced offense, try to play keep away in the half court team. This team can score. Louis Dale and Ryan Witman have this team playing like contenders and not cinderella’s. The only problem? They’re playing John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. They see Cornell’s Ryan Witman, and raise them one John Wall. If these teams play in a 7 game series, Kentucky wins this thing 4-1, maybe 4-2. But this is why they call this March Madness, and anything can happen in the NCAA tournament in March.

Prediction CORNELL 76 Kentucky 72

Midwest Region

6 Tennessee vs. 2 Ohio State

This is an interesting match-up because while Ohio State is definitely the better team, Tennessee isn’t afraid of anyone, and they defeated both Kentucky and Kansas during the regular season. Ohio State defeated Georgia Tech in their 2nd round match-up while Tennessee was greeted with an upstart Ohio team after they were able to upset Georgetown in the 1st round. Look for Tennessee to try and push the ball and keep the game from being a typical Big 10 battle Ohio State plays, but Evan Turner is one of the best in the land, and he’ll match the Volunteers step for step.

Prediction: Ohio State 74 Tennessee 65

9 Northern Iowa vs. 5 Michigan State

Tom Izzo is in the Sweet 16, for what seems like the 47th consecutive season. Northern Iowa was giant killer’s last week as they defeated the Jayhawks, and they’ll try and do the same this year with a Spartans team missing their best player. Kalin Lucas has a torn Achilles and will miss the rest of the tournament. For this reason, it is going to be very difficult for the Spartans to win 2 games and get to the Final Four, but can they win one and give themselves a chance?

Prediction: Michigan State 75 Northern Iowa 65

South Region

1 Duke vs. 4 Purdue

This is Duke’s best shot to get to the Final Four in several years and this would have been Purdue’s as well if their star player, Robbie Hummel, didn’t injure himself for the season only weeks before the start of the tournament. These are two great teams and if Purdue can continue to overcome their loss of Hummel, they have a shot, but the improved play of Zoubek may leave Purdue wondering what if after Friday Night.

Prediction: Duke 85 Purdue 71

3 Baylor vs. 10 St. Mary’s

Another mid-major in the Sweet 16. Like the other teams still around in the tournament, the Gael’s can play. Led by their big man, Samhan, if he can have his way inside they have a serious chance at a Final Four run. The Baylor Bears though, are also big. Ekpe Udoh plays tough inside and their exceptional guard, LaceDarius Dunn is controlling the offense extremely efficiently for the Bears. These teams are pretty even, but this game is being played in Houston, not a far drive from the Baylor campus. That definitely gives the Bears the advantage.

Prediction: Baylor 84 St. Mary’s 77

That leaves 4 Regional Final games and with the probability of having to change match-ups for these games after Thursday and Friday’s games, I’ll simply give my prediction for who will represent in the Final 4.

South Region:

Baylor over Duke

Midwest Region

Ohio State over Michigan State

East Region

West Virginia over Cornell

West Region

Syracuse over Xavier

Any Disagreements? Post your comments below.

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