BY LEO BARATTA JR.
SC Staff Writer
The first week of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has come and gone.
The field of 64 teams has been whittled down to 16 and fans have been left with plenty excitement for the Sweet 16, which tips off on Thursday.
The tournament has been shock-filled up to this point, with upset victories coming almost every day. Florida Gulf Coast, the first 15th-seeded team to ever make the Sweet 16, has shocked the nation by beating two higher-ranked opponents in a row (#2 seeded Georgetown in the opening round and #7 seeded San Diego State).
The 15th-seeded Harvard team claimed their first ever NCAA tournament victory by defeating the three-seed New Mexico team in round one. Kansas State was sent home in round one by La Salle, the 13-seed in the West. And don’t forget the 12-seed Oregon and 13-seed La Salle teams making their way into the Sweet 16.
The tournament seems to be one Cinderella story after another, and three low-seeded teams still remain. Oregon (12), La Salle (13) and Florida Gulf Coast (15) are by far the lowest seeded teams remaining in the tournament.
Florida Gulf Coast has a tough interstate matchup against Florida (3). Florida is an extremely talented team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but so is San Diego State (7), the team Florida Gulf Coast beat in round two.
La Salle gets the easiest matchup of the low-seeds by going up against Wichita State (9). Wichita State just took down the number one seed Gonzaga, so even though they’re not a high-seeded team, they’re the favorites over La Salle at this point in the tournament.
Oregon clearly has the toughest matchup of the three. They’ll be forced to face the favorite of the tournament, Louisville. Oregon has proven that they are a better team than their 12 ranking, but there is a clear doubt that they can take down the Cardinals.
If Cinderella stories don’t get you giddy, there a plenty of close-ranked matches that look to be close until the end. A two-seed Duke team will go up against the three-seed Michigan State, which looks to be a good matchup, with Duke coming in as the slight favorites.
Another two versus three-seed matchup will also take place in the East bracket, where Miami (2) will go up against Marquette (3).
The tournament will start up again at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday when Marquette and Miami face-off at the Verizon Center in Washington. Tune-in to the games and watch as the underdogs try to continue their epic journey, while the favorites try to live up to their lofty expectations.
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