A wild opening weekend across the men's NCAA tournament led to a Sweet 16 full of storylines for each team still dancing. NCAA Digital's Andy Katz took a crack at predicting who will advance to the Elite 8 for a shot at a Final Four berth.
🎂 The unexpected March Madness Sweet 16, previewed and how to watch
South Region (Louisville)
(1) Alabama vs. (5) San Diego State: Katz would not be surprised by any combination of these four teams in the Elite 8. For San Diego State to knock off the No. 1 overall seed, the Aztecs must rely on their defense. However, if the game tips the other way into a shootout — as Katz suspects it will — Alabama wins.
(6) Creighton vs. (15) Princeton: Once again, neither result would shock Katz. Yes, even if Princeton's Cinderella run lives to see another day, it would be nothing more than the Tigers deserve for how they played across the first weekend. That being said, Katz is still leaning toward Creighton to make its second-ever Elite Eight — the first in over 80 years.
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East Region (New York)
(4) Tennessee vs. (9) FAU: The Owls may be a fresh face at this stage of the tournament, but knocking them out won't be easy. The Vols must be physical and play their best defense to advance past FAU. Katz likes Tennessee in this matchup.
(3) Kansas State vs. (7) Michigan State: This is the definition of a toss-up. What's certain is that both teams have powerful stories behind them. The matchup pits the upstart Wildcats under a first-year head coach against the team playing for a school and fanbase that has gone through unthinkable tragedy after a mass shooting last month .
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Midwest (Kansas City)
(1) Houston vs. (5) Miami (FL): The injuries to Houston's backcourt have not proved as limiting as previously thought, but Katz is still not convinced by the Cougars. He thinks this matchup will be hotly contested and go down to the wire. This has the makings of a memorable classic, and Katz is leaning toward Miami to pull off the upset.
(2) Texas vs. (3) Xavier: This one has the makings of a high-scoring, entertaining shootout. Don't be surprised if both teams eclipse 80 points. Katz's pick to win is Texas.
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West (Las Vegas)
(4) UConn vs. (8) Arkansas: UConn has the size advantage inside, Arkansas has the better backcourt. If the Razorbacks make it a guard's game, they will win. If Adama Sanogo gets what he wants in the paint — and Katz thinks he will — UConn advances.
(2) UCLA vs. (3) Gonzaga: Here's the much-anticipated March rematch of the 2021 Final Four. In a tournament that has already seen marquee big men get knocked out, Drew Timme vs. Jaime Jaquez is a tantalizing matchup to watch. As far as a winner, this one is another pick 'em.