We’re down to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, and what a first weekend it was. We had monumental upsets, half-court buzzer-beaters, crazy collapses, Cinderella stories and redemption runs (who had Syracuse vs. Gonzaga in the Midwest?)
We can’t wait until it starts up again on Thursday, but until then, we’re previewing all of the games in the regional semifinals:
Second round: Def. 10 VCU, 85-81
Oklahoma hasn’t had it easy, but the Sooners have done just enough to get by in their first two games and advance to the Sweet 16. OU was in a dogfight with Cal State-Bakersfield longer than it needed to be (it was a 65-60 game with 7:00 to play). The Roadrunners held Buddy Hield down for a while, until he went off for 16 of his 27 points in the final 13:23 to help the Sooners slowly pull away.
It was almost the opposite against VCU, as Oklahoma built a big lead (they were up 21-7), before allowing the Rams to storm back and take the lead (64-63), with 8 minutes left. The Sooners needed 36 points from Hield to hold off the 10th-seeded Rams.
It probably wasn’t the most confidence-inspiring path to the Sweet 16, but hey, they could be Michigan State. Now, Oklahoma will take on former Big XII rival Texas A&M, which has new life and a plethora of weapons that can beat them.
Both teams can put up points, so this should be an entertaining, high-scoring affair.
3. Texas A&M
Second round: Def. 11 Northern Iowa, 92-88 F/2OT
For real though, how did we get here? By now, there’s no way you don’t know that Northern Iowa blew a 12-point lead in the final 30 seconds of its second round game with the Aggies, which according to ESPN, was the most improbable comeback in the history of college basketball. Sure, UNI collapsed, turning the ball over several times and forgetting how to play defense. But the Aggies made the plays they needed too, as well–trapping and getting steals instead of fouling, and knocking down threes in big spots.
Danuel House shook off a slow start and caught fire down the stretch, and he was unstoppable in the overtime sessions. Now, A&M will try and carry the momentum from that game over into the second weekend. They’ve got nothing to lose, because they’re not even supposed to be here anymore.
Texas A&M doesn’t need him to try and go basket-for-basket with Buddy Hield, but if they need buckets down the stretch against the Sooners, House is the go-to-man.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 84, Texas A&M 78. We’re going with the Sooners, because we think they have more offensive weapons than the Aggies (though it’s close). Both teams have the ability to make runs, but Oklahoma has the more explosive offense, and the best player on the floor. This will be a high-scoring game, but we like OU to come out of the other side with the ‘W.’