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Breaking Down The Madness For Friday’s Sweet 16 Action

Posted by on 3/25/2015 10:15:05 PM

The road to the Final Four will be down to 12 by the time Friday evening rolls around with four more spots in the Elite Eight left to be determined in the four remaining Sweet 16 games. We have already seen our fair share of upsets to this point but with a ton of pressure on Duke, Gonzaga and Oklahoma as some of the top remaining seeds and some fierce competition in the form of UCLA, Utah and Michigan State we could be in for a couple more surprises. Here is a quick look at Friday’s four Sweet 16 games.

(11) UCLA Bruins vs. (2) Gonzaga Bulldogs

Friday, 7:15 PM ET

For all of the talk about Gonzaga’s inability to live up to the hype they have certainly been dominant to this point with back-to-back double-digit victories over North Dakota State and Iowa and now they get a shot to advance to the Elite Eight with a win over an underdog UCLA team that has had an improbable run so far. UCLA knocked off SMU on a shocking and controversial goaltending call that won’t soon be forgotten and they were handed a gift in the round of 32 after UAB upset Iowa State only to lose by 17 points. The Bulldogs have failed in the past but they are absolutely loaded this year and this team has more than enough talent to take care of UCLA.

Pick: Gonzaga

(8) NC State Wolfpack vs. (4) Louisville Cardinals

Friday, 7:15 PM ET

NC State sent shockwaves through the East region by knocking out the No. 1 seed Villanova and if they played like they did in their latest wins they will have an excellent shot at reaching the Elite Eight. The Wolfpack were relentless at both ends of the floor and four of their five starters registered double-digit point totals led by Trevor Lacey. Louisville has rallied together following a rough season and head coach Rick Pitino’s calm influence has played an integral role in their success but they haven’t faced very stiff competition with wins over UC Irvine and Northern Iowa but they will be exposed in this clash.

Pick: NC State

(5) Utah Utes vs. (1) Duke Blue Devils

Friday, 9:45 PM ET

The Utes took down a Stephen F. Austin team that many had as a sleeper pick to make a run through the East region and then knocked off Georgetown for a berth in the Sweet 16 but they have overachieved getting this far thanks in big part due to a relatively easy path that is about to get a lot tougher in a hurry. Duke is coming off a pair of dominant wins in which it flexed its muscle and there is no reason to expect them to slow down. The Blue Devils are among the most dangerous teams in the tournament when Jahlil Okafor is at his best and after he almost single-handedly knocked off San Diego State he should get a little more help in this win.

Pick: Duke

(7) Michigan State Spartans vs. (3) Oklahoma Sooners

Friday, 10:07 PM ET

The Sooners rallied back against Dayton with a strong second half with their transition game in particular playing a major role in their win as they outscored the Flyers 17-2 in transition and forced them in to more mistakes than they probably should have made. Oklahoma has looked good under Lon Kruger who deserves props for taking another team to the Sweet 16 but he is about to go up against a tournament legend in Tom Izzo and the Spartans look like they have the potential to be a sleeper team. Michigan State should have plenty of confidence after knocking off Virginia for the second straight year and they won’t get rattled versus Sooners the way that each of their first two opponents did, especially if Travis Trice continues to dominate inside at both ends of the floor.

Pick: Michigan State

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