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Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Maneater Bracketology: How sweet it is...

We're down to 16 teams and like I've been saying all weekend, this is the most entertaining tournament I've seen in years. More than half the games have been very close and we've seen a great share of buzzer-beaters, overtimes and upsets — most notably the shocking victory the Northern Iowa Panthers had against Kansas.

So where do we go from here? First, brace yourself for more excitements. There will be some bland games, sure, but the competition has been great so far. Who cares if your bracket is busted when there's so much fun to be had in the next few games? Here's what to look for in this Oh-So-Sweet 16:

Best matchup: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Tennessee in the Midwest Region will be a great display of athleticism and both teams are playing really well. The other games that could be great are both in the West Region: Kansas State-Xavier and Syracuse-Butler. After that, though, there are a lot of games that feature very low seeds against rather high seeds. Northern Iowa vs. Michigan State could be good, but look for the Panthers to move on with MSU star Kalin Lucas going down to injury.

Game we want to see: Kentucky and West Virginia, the two top seeds in the East Region, should easily move past Cornell and Washington, respectively, to meet in the Elite 8. It has the potential to be the tournament's best game. Besides that, though, imagine a Butler vs. Xavier Elite 8 game or a Butler vs. Northern Iowa Final Four matchup. Two mid-majors against each other with so much on the line could be great theater.

Elite 8 picks: In the Midwest, look for Ohio State to play Northern Iowa. In the East, Kentucky and West Virginia is the easiest game to predict. In the South, I like how Purdue is playing without Robbie Hummell, so I see them advancing to play No. 3 Baylor. In the West, the top seeds will likely advance. I love the energy of Butler and Xavier right now, but Syracuse is playing way better than I thought they would. Kansas State will move on, too.

So, who wins?: I'll skip past the Final Four and right on to the championship game. I think the winners of the West and East regions will play in the championship, and my guess right now is that it'll be Kentucky and Syracuse, the two teams playing the best right now. My guess for the other two teams rounding out the Final Four is Northern Iowa and Baylor.

But with my best guess right now, I think Kentucky will take down Syracuse in the championship.

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