Sixteen teams remain in the NCAA tournament, and after a relatively uneventful first week, we move into the second week ready to see some powerhouse matchups. Join us as we take a closer look at Friday’s games and make our final predictions.
LSU (3) vs. Michigan State (2)
Arguably the strongest team to come out of the Big Ten this year, Michigan State has the athleticism, size, and talent to make a run to the finals. On the backs of juniors Cassius Winston and Nick Ward, the Spartans have the experience and depth necessary to handle the athleticism of LSU. Despite the two teams being a near perfect athletic match, the suspension of head coach Will Wade will be a significant obstacle for the Tigers.
Prediction: Michigan State
Virginia Tech (4) vs. Duke (1)
Coming off a tough win against UCF, a young Duke team is looking to restore faith in the Blue Devil fan base. RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Tre Jones look to build momentum while facing a Hokie squad for the third time this season.
Virginia Tech has shown consistency at the line and a reliable defense. However, they have not flashed the explosiveness that will be needed to overcome a Duke team looking for a convincing win. When the two teams faced off earlier in the year, Virginia Tech did pull off a win, but Duke has Zion Williamson this time around – which will give Duke the upper hand.
Auburn (5) vs. UNC (1)
There is no doubt about it; Auburn has momentum. The Tigers have improved throughout the year, and they are one of the best in the tournament when it comes to forcing turnovers. While they could give UNC a run for their money – the Tar Heels have acted as a prototypical #1 seed in this year’s tournament. When playing at full speed Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson, and Colby White are real powerhouses, making UNC a tough team to beat this year.
Houston (3) vs. Kentucky (2)
In Houston’s first two wins of the tournament, they have shown their defensive strength and rebounding capability. Corey Davis Jr. and Amari Brooks make a lethal combination in the Cougar’s backcourt, which will ultimately clash with a strong Wildcat defense. Kentucky’s talent and athleticism overshadow their age and may challenge Houston’s defense in ways that they have yet to experience thus far in the tournament. However, perhaps the biggest problem for Kentucky will be the absence of PJ Washington. With no confirmation on his return date, Kentucky will struggle without their biggest star.