NCAA Tournament Predictions: 1. Louisville vs. 16. North Carolina A&T or 16. Liberty

Guard Russ Smith

Guard Russ Smith

 1 Louisville (29-5, 14-4 Big East)-The Cardinals have won 10 straight games and are a five-overtime loss away from a 15-game winning streak. They captured the Big East tournament championship for the second consecutive year by destroying Syracuse, going on a 44-10 run in the second half to erase a 16-point deficit and run away with the title.

Russ-diculous leads them in scoring. Russ Smith (18.1 ppg) can heat up like a microwave, and gets plenty of his baskets off of easy transition opportunities. In Smith and senior guard Peyton Siva, the Cardinals have a pair of speedy guards who can pressure teams and force turnovers almost better than anyone in the nation. They’ve also got the experience of reaching the Final Four last season. In short, this team is absolutely loaded, especially now that Gorgui Dieng has developed a reliable mid-range jump shot.


2nd Turnover Ratio

33rd Assists Per Game (15)

42nd Points Per Game (73.6)


 16 North Carolina A&T (19-16, 8-8 MEAC)- The Aggies  finished 6th in the MEAC this season. Top-seeded Norfolk State was 16-0 in the league but lost its first-round conference tournament game against Bethune-Cookman. The Spartans now watch the NCAAs from home. You may remember that Norfolk State upset Missouri in the first round of the tournament last season.

NC A&T ranks 320th in Division I in field goal percentage, knocking down a rugged 39.8 percent of its shots. I’m pretty sure my middle school basketball team shot better than that. Their two leading scorers average 12 points per game. Senior forward Adrian Powell and junior guard Lamont Middleton pace the Aggies, who averaged just 62.5 points per game. That’s good for 288th in Division I.


320th Field Goal Percentage (39.8)

288th Points Per Game (68.5)


 16 Liberty (15-20, )-Liberty stunned the rest of the Big South by ripping through the conference tournament, knocking off the top three seeds and winning an unexpected title. The Flames were the fifth seed in the North, and the ninth-best team in the league. They didn’t just crash the Big Dance, they kidnapped the DJ, set the drapes on fire and drank all the jungle juice.

Liberty was awful during the regular season. There’s no other way to put it. The Flames lost their first 10 Division 1 games of the season, didn’t record a D-1 win until December 31, . It’s amazing that they’re even in this tournament, no matter where they play. Liberty is led by 6-0 junior guard John Caleb Sanders, who averages 13.8 points, 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Guards Davon Marshall and Tavares Speaks are dangerous from the three-point line.

PREDICTION:  Louisville.



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