It felt like it would never get here but the Sweet Sixteen has finally arrived and Gonzaga has distinguished itself as one of the top teams in the nation. Even though Gonzaga doesn't play until tomorrow night, there are some tremendous matchups going on today. While people have been complaining about the lack of mid-majors in this tournament, no true college basketball fan can be upset with the teams in the Sweet Sixteen. Sure we are missing the cute stories of Davidson or Western Kentucky (thank God) or George Mason, but all it means is that the power teams are just that good. It's actually quite surprising that the tournament has been pretty chalk up to this point because I can't remember a season with as much parity as this one.
While the two early games today (Purdue v. UConn/ Xavier v. Pitt) do not have whole lot of star power, the late games today should be absolutely loaded with intrigue. Missouri v. Memphis should be a track meet filled with some of the best athletes in the nation. As Gonzaga folks, we have come to have a respect for Memphis since they have dominated the Zags in virtually every matchup, but that did not stop me from taking Missouri in this game. I love Mizzou this year but I am always a little worried about picking against John Calipari. The last game to tip tonight matches the team that everyone loves to hate (Duke) against the team that no one really knows much about (Villanova). 'Nova has always impressed me this season but it is odd to have a team in the Big East be that good and not really have big name players. They have Scottie Reynolds but the last time Villanova was this deep in the tourney we were talking about players like Randy Foye, Allen Ray, and Kyle Lowry. It all leads to the fact that their head coach Jay Wright is one of the best in the business and by far the most well dressed coach in the nation. Duke on the other hand, we know way too much about. They have two sensational players in Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler but other than that it is a bunch of mediocrity. Their lack of an interior presence forces me to take 'Nova over Duke in this game. Sorry, Dickie V.
The two ealier games should have UConn and Pitt both dominate Purdue and Xavier but after seeing Purdue take down Washington, I'm starting to think that they might just be the Husky killers. JaJuan Johnson is a tremendous low post presence and Purdue is an extremely smart basketball team and so talented on defense, led by Chris Kramer. I think the Boilermakers will give them more of a game than people think but in the end, A.J. Price will be too much and UConn will advance. Pitt really got lucky. If they were playing any other team in the Sweet Sixteen, I would pick against the Panthers. They have been the least impressive one seed thus far in the tournament which is saying something because Louisville has been very average too. I'm just not impressed by Xavier however. I don't think they stand a chance especially if Pitt finally figures things out. Pitt will win this game but I'm staring to have less and less confidence in the team that I picked to win the entire thing.
Feel free to come by during the games and chat or leave your thoughts and your picks for tonight's games. They should be excellent to watch!