Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament South Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns

South Regional Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns


#1 Duke vs. #5 Utah (Houston, Texas)

Like in most years, it’s no surprise that Duke has sailed into the Sweet Sixteen.  It has been two seasons since they have made it this far, but they certainly looked like a team poised for a deep run.  Their first round matchup against Robert Morris was over by the first TV timeout.  The San Diego State game in the round of 32 played out similarly.  The Aztecs had no answer for Jahlil Okafor.  He had 26 points and three blocks.  The freshman phenom has grown accostumed to the tournament atmosphere in just two games.  His freshmen teammates have lifted their games as well.  Justice Winslow was all over the court in the third round, registering a triple double before the second half was half over.  Tyus Jones is a spark plug in the backcourt as well.  He and Quinn Cook are electric baseline-to-baseline.  Duke has been shooting lights-out so far this tournament, and that is what has made them a championship-level team. 

Utah poses a different challenge than either of Duke’s first two opponents.  The Utes have hovered around a top-10 ranking all season long and have been pretty consistent all year minus a late regular season swoon.  They were on the ropes early against a big and fast Georgetown team.  For the game, they ended up shooting 57% from the field to overwhelm the Hoyas and pull away.  Utah’s greatest asset going into the game against Duke is the fact that they make it to the line a whole bunch.  They shot 32 free throws in their last game.  They will try to get Okafor into foul trouble.  They have some size on the low block that Okafor has not seen yet.  The Utes will try and frustrate him for 40 minutes.  Their own star, Delon Wright, will attempt to counter Duke’s backcourt talent by himself.  This is an extremely accurate team from anywhere on the floor. 

Duke is more talented overall and has the pedigree.  It looks like the first team to 70 will win.  Based on the way these teams fill it up, a high scoring affair is likely.


#2 Gonzaga vs. #11 UCLA (Houston, Texas)

Amid some controversy, UCLA has made it to the Sweet Sixteen in consecutive years under Steve Alford.  For a team that many did not believe should even be in the field, it is quite an accomplishment.  Of course, the goaltending call during their second round matchup against SMU is questionable.  The call was the call and the Bruins advanced to take on a feisty UAB squad that had been the tournament’s early upset special.  Ultimately, the Blazers could not find the magic two games in a row, and UCLA’s talent and size won out.  The Bruins are a tough team to figure out.  They have a subpar year (according to UCLA standards) and only scored seven points in one half against Kentucky.  Then they have a good second half of the season and start sinking timely shots and playing tough basketball.  If Bryce Alford keeps draining three-pointers, this team will stay in their game against Gonzaga.  The problem is that Gonzaga does everything UCLA does, but they do it better. 

The Zags had virtually no worries en route to yet another Sweet Sixteen bid under Mark Few.  In fact, they played better against Power 5 Iowa than they did against North Dakota State in their first game.  Their guards are among the best in the country.  This is a veteran team with a lot of experience and tournament savvy.  Kevin Pangos has been in Spokane for four years.  He is Few’s coach on the court.  This team can drain deep shots as well as be a force inside with Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis.  They are so well balanced.  The addition of Kyle Wiltjer, the Kentucky transfer, has added a whole new element to this team.  Iowa just could not score at the same pace as the Bulldogs.  The Hawkeyes got blown out by 20.  Gonzaga is dangerous in all areas of the game.

It will be very difficult for UCLA to beat Gonzaga in an offensive game.  The Bruins defense is going to have to reach a whole new level to slow down Gonzaga.  The Bruins are a good rebounding team.  Limiting the Bulldogs opportunities on the glass is going to be very important for them to pull the upset.


Tournament Central