Sweet sixteen!

By Nate Wilson-Traisman

While 2009’s NCAA tournament has only seen one major upset, it has not been without excitement. Eight first-round games were decided by four points or less, and #4 seed Wake Forest was upended, 84-69, by unheralded Cleveland St. With 16 teams left, there will undoubtedly be a number of marquee matchups in the remaining rounds. While Louisville is still the favorite in the Midwest bracket, they looked shaky in their second-round matchup versus Siena where they trailed late in the second half. They should have little trouble with inexperienced Arizona, but defending champion Kansas or #2 seed Michigan?State could pose a serious threat to the Cardinals. Still, Lousiville’s excess of talent coupled with their Big East grit should send them through to the Final Four.

While Connecticut has dominated their first two tourney games, Memphis could cause them some problems if they meet in the Elite Eight. They match up well in terms of team athleticism, and Shawn Taggart could hold his own against Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet.

Suprisingly, I see Villanova coming out of the East bracket. On paper Villanova doesn’t have much of an answer for Pitt big-man DeJuan Blair. Nevertheless, the Wildcats handled Pitt 67-57 in their lone Big East match up. Defense and team speed are Nova’s forte and if they play well, as they have been, a victory over Pittsburgh and a Final Four berth are in the cards.

Lastly, the South region could see a matchup of two of the nation’s best in UNC’s Tyler Hansborough and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin. Although I think Griffin will get the best of that particular matchup, Oklahoma’s seven-man rotation will be no match for UNC’s depth.

I like North Carolina to go all the way. Hansborough plays like he wants a national championship more than any other player in the nation, and with Ty Lawson back from his toe injury, the Tar Heels will bring home their second national championship in five years.