Evan Mellett: 00:08 Hey everybody, and welcome back to the ninth edition of the Sports Run On podcast. In this episode of the Sports Run On podcast, we will be talking about the sweet 16 and Elite Eight, in the NCAA tournament, as in my last video, the coverage is the tournament all around. And many of the teams that were in it, now some that are have moved on to the 16. So, if you want to hear my bracket all together, I’m going to go over my sweet 16 again, most likely in who I have winning and maybe talk about it who I have winning it. But if you want to just hear what I have for like all my first round and see what you had with me and like how it worked out, you can go back and listen to the episode right before this one. But today we will be talking about the sweet 16 and the Elite Eight, which will then lead into the Final Four.
Evan Mellett: 01:03 The first game we will be looking at is the East region with the first game coming up of the sweet 16, being a game between Duke and Virginia Tech. Duke’s always a big question mark because of the freshman talent that their team is comprised of, with Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett and many more with them, as they work together to get a title and maybe if they get a title, you could see Zion leave, or he probably would just leave anyway, as he is the predicted first pick in the NBA Draft. Virginia Tech, which is giving Duke very good in conference games as they both are from the ACC. I think that they’re going to struggle to hold back a high-powered offense like Duke, where they can score on you from all different ways, very fast or they can slow it down, they can play either way and play whatever way. Whatever speed they play at, they play that speed very well. This is why I think they are really our team to cover like, be able to slow down.
Evan Mellett: 02:01 But Virginia Tech is going to have to especially spawn down Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, if they want any chance at winning this game. And moving on to the Elite Eight. The second game in the East region that we are going to be looking at is LSU and Michigan State. The Spartans of Michigan State are looking like the favorites and the ones that I have in this one I do have Duke in the Duke-Virginia Tech game, but Michigan State is the ones that I have in this game. I feel like LSU is a good team, they got a tough game last round but they were able to come through, they did have tough game but they were able to come through from against Maryland. And when I think LSU, I think they’re a good team, they can put points up, but I just think Michigan State is just a really good all-around team. They’re made up of a very good all-around team that I think play well together. And I think that will definitely be a key to help them– and in some case, I think it’d be one of the easiest games because I think Michigan State is a heavy favorite in this one.
Evan Mellett: 03:02 We will now be moving out to the West region or down. Which in the first game in the West Region, it will be the Zags of Gonzaga against the Seminoles of Florida State. Gonzaga Bulldogs, they are looking for another elite eight birth, looking to beat the Seminoles the Florida State. The Seminoles came up with an interesting task with the playing Murray State last round with John Moran, which was one of the biggest upsets, then coming off of the first round. But FSU took care of John Moran and in some cases triple or quadruple teaming him, but they could take care of business and move on to the sweet 16. They’re looking like this can be a very tough game for them because I think, Gonzaga is a very big, very strong team. I think they’re another really good team that’s an all-around team like just a really good all-around team in the tournament which is why it makes sense since they’re the number one seed, which is why I do have Gonzaga this game.
Evan Mellett: 04:02 I think FSU can give Gonzaga a run for their money, but I think that it’s going to end up going to the Bulldogs in this one because—or, the Zags in this one because I just think that– I think FSU plays a very all-around game but I think Gonzaga just plays the same game that FSU does better. Looking at now the second game of the West. It will be the Texas Tech Red Raiders against Michigan, the Michigan Wolverines. Texas Tech now being the last team in from the big 12 after Kansas took a hard loss to Auburn in the last round. As Texas Tech looks and Culver, their best scorer. Jarrett Culver looks to move on to the Elite Eight in a season where they were kind of– they didn’t know how their– people wondered about them tournament wise after their last WVU to knock them out of the conference tournament, they wondered, “is this as good of a team as we think it really is?”.
Evan Mellett: 05:03 And I think with a strong, whenever Buffalo, and then taking care of North Kentucky in the first round, I think that Texas Tech, they’re going to definitely give Michigan a run for their money. Michigan just like another Michigan State, looking as that, we do have a good amount of big 10 teams in the in the field of 16. Michigan looking like another strong contender to go pretty far in this one. Again, I just think Michigan and Michigan State, I think they both play really well, all around games. They don’t have like a crazy stand out, and they don’t have like somebody who only averages to a game. I think they’re just an all-around balanced team which I also think Gonzaga is too, which I think especially, which is why I do have them going, Gonzaga going to the Final Four. But I think that Michigan could easily make their case too, as I think they play a very good game, having threats from– definitely threats that can pound on you. And also, definitely vertical threats, to one stretch the floor and to be able to make sure it’s out on the perimeter.
Evan Mellett: 06:05 This is honestly kind of a hard– I picked Michigan in this one because I feel like Texas Tech, after seeing their conference, how they did in the conference tournament, I’m kind OF iffy about picking them. Because I’m wondering like, what team is going to show up? Because I’m still– I thought that, I wasn’t even sure of the Techs, I picked in this far, but I wasn’t sure that Texas Tech was going to make it this far. Because I’m always kind of iffy on what Texas Tech team is going to show up. Like, I was wondering if they might lose to Buffalo, if like the Texas Tech team isn’t as good as like– the worst of the two Texas Tech teams that can show up. If the worst one shows up, could they have lost to Buffalo and could their run have already been over? I do have Michigan, because I feel like Michigan can shut down Culver, their leading scorer, and really make other people score which I feel like Texas Tech would have a hard time with having maybe Culver taken out of the game because of Michigan’s good presence defensively.
Evan Mellett: 07:02 I want to also say something before I get– kind of get away from the big 10 teams for a little bit. Another reason why I like the big 10 teams and I like them going deep is because big 10 teams, they’re all known for playing a very, very good defense. They play a very strong defensive game, where it’s a very hard, aggressive defensive game, which I like. Because I feel like defense can really win you games in tournament, because if you know you can count on your defense, one, it could score you points off turnovers and you don’t have to worry about scoring 70 a game, you don’t have to worry about scoring 50 because you’re already holding the other team to 50. And I think that’s always a relief, for a team knowing they don’t have to score 70 every game and it doesn’t have to be– they don’t have to shoot the lights out to win, they can have an off night and only score 50 or 60 and still win because of a big defensive presence. But big 10 as we’re going to see moving over to the south, big 10 is definitely not the only conference that is known for tough defense.
Evan Mellett: 08:01 Duke, maybe not so much but the team that plays a slow defensive game, which most of you– a very defensive oriented game is Virginia, who we will be talking about in the south. Virginia playing a very interesting game against Oregon who is, as most would say, one of the most likely Cinderella picks that was out there. Most tournaments, if they had a Cinderella pick, it was Oregon. But I think Oregon is going to have a tough time, again running into a very well defense and very well coached I might add, Virginia team under Tony Bennett, I think they’re a very well coached team. So, I feel like this won’t be a really tough game for Virginia because I think their defense is going to be able to get them a lot of points off turnovers and really be able to turn a lot of defense into offense for them to get them easy buckets, to make this. So, it’s not really– it makes this game a lot easier for them. Finishing up the South with the second game of the two, that will be taking place there is Purdue and Tennessee.
Evan Mellett: 09:06Tennessee , at this point is the winner of my main bracket, which one of the reasons is because– as they do like to have shootouts, which is why I do think it will be interesting, which I do have for Virginia, Tennessee as one is slow and one is fast. But I will get into that, I’ll talk about that little later on this episode. But, right now Purdue and Tennessee. Purdue yet is another big 10 team, big 10 is really showing up in this sweet 16, but the big 10 I think, as they are known for playing very good defense, I think Tennessee is just their ability to score and match buckets repeatedly is just going to be a real– it is going to be a big difference here. Because they’ve really, throughout this tournament, have been averages match bucket to bucket. I mean, yeah, granted, they haven’t played the best people so far, they haven’t played a lot of competition yet. And then, there’s another question, what took them very far and almost– and took them into their wit’s end. But I think they’ll be able to come out strong after that Iowa game and take care of business against Purdue.
Evan Mellett: 10:09 Because the ability for them to just try to put points on the board and match possessions. It really looks like anybody they play, as they do play a pretty tough SEC schedule. Next looking up is UNC and Auburn. Auburn, a lot of people are surprised is even there, most brackets expected it to be Kansas. But no, it is Auburn. Auburn, they shot the three very well in their game against Kansas and was able to take the win, they moved into a UNC team, it’s kind of a faster paced UNC team, that really likes to get up and get in your face as they like to definitely get up and put points on the board. But which is why I think Auburn, they’re going to really have to be able to shoot the lights out as I feel like this UNC team definitely has more talent than this Auburn team. But I don’t think that automatically means that they’re going to lose to them, as they beat Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, whenever they shot 70% from three, so who knows? They could have that game again and Auburn could be one of your Elite Eight.
Evan Mellett: 11:07 I don’t have them picked, because I don’t really know what the odds are that they’re going to come out and just shoot the absolute lights out of the building, but it’s probably more likely for them to just shoot an average night and then have to fall to very good UNC team, which a good amount of people have winning it all, as they look very strong this year. This is the Midwest– and then wrapping up the Midwest would be, Kentucky and Houston. I think Houston– I think they’re good team. I am a little surprised they’ve gone as far as they have. I honestly thought there was a chance they could have got upset by Ohio State last round, but they did not. They move on to play Kentucky which I think is a definitely a lot stronger of a team than they are, which is why I think this was honestly one of the easier games to pick because of how strong of an all-around team Kentucky has. They’re just a very strong all-around team. Now, looking at my elite either, I’ll just tell you I have.
Evan Mellett: 12:03 I have Duke over Michigan State. So, with my Final Fours being Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee and UNC. I’ll talk more about these in a future episode about why I have what I have. But that’s what I have, I have Duke beating Michigan State, I’ll just talk a little bit about each of these games as I feel like Michigan State’s a good team, but I feel like Duke’s firepower, just can really help them get over some of these humps just because their ability to score and then some people bring up, “are they even going to get that far?”, running into the speed bump of UCF, almost ending, if the ball would’ve rolled around and fall out on UNC. Duke would be at home right now. But now, they’re still fighting, they’re dancing on. Duke is dancing on and they are they’re looking– I think they’re looking as a strong favor to get into at least the Final Four and again some having them to win it all. I have them in the national championship game. The bottom left would be the West, the Zags and Michigan game. I have the Zags in this one.
Evan Mellett: 13:03 In my mind, I still think this game is kind of a toss-up, because I think Michigan’s such a good team. And I think Gonzaga has been– that we’ve seen that they can be beaten, after that loss to St Mary’s which is the only reason St. Mary’s was in the tournament, because they were able to beat them. But no, I think the Zags are going to have to pull through as they, I think they have one of the stronger inside-outside games, Brandon Clark, being one of their great outside shooters and then just having a very physical inside. Which is why some people think this might be a pretty close game, but I think– I honestly think Gonzaga is going to have a crazy, like overtime, push game in this one. I think they’ll definitely be able to take care of Michigan, it might be close to the end, but I think Gonzaga can make a push at the end to finish it. This right side of the bracket are the two bigger elite eight games that everybody’s going to be looking forward to, which is if this happens, Virginia-Tennessee and UNC-Kentucky. First, Virginia-Tennessee, I still think as a toss-up, I have two brackets.
Evan Mellett: 14:03 One having Virginia as the winner and one having Tennessee because they are just so two different play styles. I think the tempo of this game is going to decide who wins it, honestly. Because Virginia slows the game down so much and they’re okay with just scoring 40 points and winning, 40 or 50, and Tennessee, if they want to win, they want to win scoring 80s, so I mean, I feel like there might be some– there’s probably going to be like a middle ground in this game. And in this bracket, I do have Tennessee winning it because I feel like they can match Virginia for possessions, which I feel like Virginia might fall off whenever it gets deeper and deeper into the game. I don’t know if they’re going to be able to keep matching Tennessee, right for possession. Like, possession the possession, scoring wise, which is why I have Tennessee. Then in the other one, just a quick one, the UNC-Kentucky game. I have UNC, Kentucky just hasn’t done a lot for me. Sure, I think they’re a good team. I think they have a lot of skill behind them.
Evan Mellett: 15:01 But, are they A team I’m like, “Oh no, that’s a final four, without any question”. No, they’re just in my mind. I don’t think they’re that good. But I don’t think they’re a bad team, don’t get me wrong. I think Kentucky’s a very skilled team, but I don’t know if they’re a final 14 at that. I just want to thank you again for listening to the ninth edition of the Sport Run On podcast. In my next episode, I’ll be going into the more, after we see the outcomes and seeing how– what the outcomes are of the sweet 16 going into the elite eight games, we’ll see the outcome. In the next episode I will talk more about looking at the Final Four when it’s really come down to the big games of the Final Four and then coming down to the national championship game to see if maybe my prediction was right or one of you, one of the listeners’ predictions is right or for who they think is going to win in Final Four predictions. I just want to thank you again for listening.