Jul 09, 2020

The ups and downs of the Sweet 16

Illustration by Michael Uribes / The Collegian

Midwest Region
No. 10 Davidson

Davidson is the best story to come out of the NCAA this season. The small school played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation. They played against the likes of UCLA, North Carolina and Duke.

After competing with such high competition, the Wildcats flew through conference play, finishing 20-0.

Not even the pressure of March Madness could slow down Davidson.

First, Davidson defeated Gonzaga in the first round led by sophomore Stephen Curry’s 40 points.

Curry went off for another 30 points in Davidson’s win over Georgetown. Davidson’s victory over Georgetown is easily the biggest upset of the tournament.

With No. 2 Georgetown out of the way, the chances of Davidson beating No. 3 Wisconsin doesn’t seem that far out of reach.

West Region
No. 7 West Virginia

If the name Joe Alexander doesn’t ring a bell at this point, you probably haven’t been getting your daily dose of March Madness.

Alexander embodies what the month of March is about; elevating your game. The junior forward averaged 16.8 points a game this season. Since the Madness began, he has finished with 20 points or more in six games.

West Virginia was a team that played solid basketball before the emergence of Alexander. The team stayed competitive, finishing 11-7 in the competitive Big East Conference.

With the addition of a superstar player, West Virginia may have gained the edge they needed to go deep into the tournament.

In the Sweet 16, the Mountaineers play a very offensively-talented Xavier team. West Virginia’s solid defense should prevail in the clash of playing styles.

The No. 1 seeds – North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas and UCLA

These elite teams made it through the first round easily, winning convincingly over opponents.

North Carolina and Kansas made it through the second round, defeating their opponents by large margins.

The second round wasn’t as easy as a task for Memphis and UCLA. These two No. 1 seeds were taken down to the final minute to obtain their victories.

This can be seen as either a sign of weakness or strength for UCLA and Memphis. The weak side of the slim margin of victory could be that these teams are not as good as their rankings show.

The sign of strength would mean that UCLA and Memphis are in positions where they have to be competitive. If a team plays at a competitive level more often, it could give them the advantage in high pressure situations later down the line.

As for North Carolina and Kansas, they either haven’t yet played a quality team, or they are as good as the rankings they were given.

In the next round, UCLA and Kansas should crush both of the No. 12 seeded teams they face. Memphis and North Carolina both have big games against formidable opponents.

East Region
No. 3 Louisville

Great coaching, great defense and great athleticism; what else can you say about Louisville?

Rick Pitino and the Cardinals have played two quality teams and won convincingly.

The first win was against the Boise State Broncos by an 18-point margin. Boise shared a four-way tie for the conference championship.

Next, the Cardinals beat Oklahoma by 30 points. They beat another team in convincing fashion from another competitive conference.

Louisville’s next game is against Tennessee, a team that came extremely close to winning 30 games.

Finding a way to shut down Louisville is going to be tough. The team relies on scoring from every position. Louisville is long and athletic and can score in a number of ways.

The Cardinals thrive off their ability to take advantage of other team’s mistakes on the defensive end. In the month of March, mistakes are in surplus.

West Region
No. 12 Western Kentucky

All the parts have fallen in the right places for Western Kentucky. Without that special element of circumstance, Western Kentucky would be on a bus or plane heading back from Tampa, Fla.

In the first round, Western Kentucky played Drake. Drake is a good team, however, they are not as good as their record would imply. Drake went 28-4 this season, but not without an easy schedule. The toughest team on Drake’s schedule was Saint Mary’s.Western Kentucky easily defeated the University of San Diego in round two.

Now the Hilltoppers take on UCLA in the Sweet 16.

UCLA is a good team from a tough conference that legitimately belongs in a race to see who is the best basketball team in the nation.

Now we’ll see how Western Kentucky fares against a legitimate contender.

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