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2017 Sweet Sixteen: Winners and Losers

[lead align=”default”]The 2017 Sweet Sixteen is upon us, and though most people’s brackets are Swiss cheese, that doesn’t mean we can’t pick winners in the games we have.[/lead]

So you didn’t predict an Xavier-Arizona game (we did), or a South Carolina-Baylor contest (we didn’t). We have eight games before us now, and the winners of those, clearly, are Elite Eight. One of these sixteen will be the next national champion.

Who has the edge in these contests, and who will be going home?

2017 Sweet Sixteen: Thursday

[alert heading=”7 Michigan vs. 3 Oregon (7:09pm ET, CBS)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Three words could describe Michigan right now: team of destiny. Who would want to play this team after all they’ve been through and with the confidence they exude? Oh sure, Oregon is a good team, and perhaps better on paper than Michigan. This ain’t played on paper. Give me Michigan.[/alert]

[alert heading=”4 West Virginia vs. 1 Gonzaga (7:39pm ET, TBS)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Gonzaga has had a hell of a season to get to this point. Yet, I don’t just think West Virginia can win this game. I think West Virginia WILL win this game. Coach Huggy Bear gets to the Elite Eight with his defense.[/alert]

[alert heading=”4 Purdue vs. 1 Kansas (9:39pm ET, CBS)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Purdue will have to play at a very high level to get beyond Kansas, especially if the Jayhawks are on top of their game. Frank Mason will be hard to contain. Kansas moves on.[/alert]

[alert heading=”11 Xavier vs. 2 Arizona (10:09pm ET, TBS)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Sean Miller again faces his old team, but his new team is a better one. Lauri Markkanen should rake as Arizona wins a hard-fought game against a plucky Musketeers squad.[/alert]

2017 Sweet Sixteen: Friday

[alert heading=”4 Butler vs. 1 North Carolina (7:09pm ET, CBS)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]UNC has the honor of the ACC — whatever’s left of it — on their shoulders. Luckily for them, they were the best team in the conference and are one of the best left standing. Their near-disaster against Arkansas notwithstanding, their style of play is a good fit against Butler. North Carolina becomes Elite.[/alert]

[alert heading=”7 South Carolina vs. 3 Baylor (7:29pm ET, TBS)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Baylor’s had its share of successes and failures over the last few weeks, but I like the way they’re playing. South Carolina is one of the biggest surprises in the tournament so far, but this time, they won’t have the benefit of two virtual home games. Baylor moves on to the regional final.[/alert]

[alert heading=”3 UCLA vs. 2 Kentucky (9:39pm ET, CBS)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]This is going to be a great game; the likes of Malik Monk and Bryce Alford on the same court. Two high-powered offenses will make for entertaining watching. UCLA won the regular-season meeting, but these two teams are very even. With that being the case, the tie goes to the team we picked in our bracket, being UCLA.[/alert]

[alert heading=”8 Wisconsin vs. 4 Florida (9:59pm ET, TBS)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Wisconsin is sneaking up on teams. Florida deserves to be here based on their seed, and they have one hell of a defense. So do the Badgers, and the Big Ten team’s defense might even be better. Wisconsin prevails in a (relatively) low-scoring game.[/alert]

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