THE SWEETEST OF SWEET SIXTEENS PART TWO
Sweet Sixteen action continues on Friday from Washington, DC and Kansas City, MO with third seeded LSU first taking on Tom Izzo’s second seeded Michigan State Wolverines in DC as six point underdogs. The Wolverines are perennial participants in the ‘Big Dance’ although they have not made it out of the opening weekend for the past three years.
The Tigers, as we all know, are playing without head coach Will Wade who was suspended by the University after recordings emerged of Wade discussing what could be construed as making an offer to a potential team member, which lies outside the boundaries of what the NCAA will allow. Whatever. The athletes on the LSU Tigers basketball team this year seem to have found their own motivations for winning games together.
Michigan State will be a tough test for LSU, and vise versa. Confrontations between the Big 10 and the SEC have turned out to be some of the best contests we have witnessed in recent years. This one should be a doozy with the winner going on to face either Virginia Tech or Duke, who will be playing on the same floor later that same evening.
Top seed Duke holds the largest spread of the evening over fourth seeded Virginia Tech at -7.5. However, back in February, the Hokies actually beat mighty Duke at home in Blacksburg. All American forward Zion Williamson sat that one out after blowing out his shoe early on. He will be back for this Sweet Sixteen match up so Virginia Tech will have to be on their toes all night.
The early game in Kansas City matches up a 5 seed Auburn team, fresh from winning the SEC Tournament, against the top seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. Auburn is one of the surprises of the tournament and also one of four teams representing the SEC in the Sweet Sixteen. The Tar Heels have flashing speed and a future Hall of Fame coach in Roy Williams, but the Auburn Tigers just handed Kansas an 89-75 defeat in the second round.
Save some energy for the last game of the evening which will feature the third seeded Houston Cougars taking on the mighty Kentucky Wildcats as only 2.5 point underdogs. Both teams are very strong defensively so the over and under is set at a low 134.5.
Head coaches Kelvin Sampson of Houston and John Calipari are old rivals and this one is shaping up to be a war between two of the most highly trained and competitive teams in the country.