NCAA Tournament 2018: Updated Bracket Predictions for Weekend Action

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 17, 2018

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 15:  Donte Ingram #0 and Marques Townes #5 of the Loyola Ramblers celebrate after Ingram makes a game-winning three pointer against the Miami Hurricanes in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at American Airlines Center on March 15, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The first weekend of the NCAA men's basketball tournament offers little time to catch your breath.

As soon as you wake up and realize a No. 16 seed actually beat a No. 1 seed, the second-round action begins.

Some programs are masters of the quick turnaround, while others may struggle given the emotional surge provided by round-of-64 upsets.

With most brackets in America busted, it's suggested you root for more chaos, as six double-digit seeds look to extend their respective Cinderella stories into the Sweet 16.

While the upset-minded teams are expected to give perennial national-championship contenders issues in the second round, the established programs will begin to rise to the top Saturday and Sunday.

  

Weekend Schedule and Predictions

All Times ET. Bold indicates predicted winners

Saturday

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 9 Alabama (12:10 p.m., CBS)

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 Rhode Island (2:40 p.m., CBS)

No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Buffalo (5:15 p.m., CBS)

No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 11 Loyola-Chicago (6:10 p.m., TNT)

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Seton Hall (7:10 p.m., TBS)

No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Ohio State (7:40 p.m., CBS)

No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 6 Florida (8:40 p.m., TNT)

No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 6 Houston (9:40 p.m., TBS)

          

Sunday

No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 10 Butler (12:10 p.m., CBS)

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 11 Syracuse (2:40 p.m., CBS)

No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 7 Texas A&M (5:15 p.m., CBS)

No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Nevada (6:10 p.m., TNT)

No. 4 Auburn vs. No. 5 Clemson (7:10 p.m., TBS)

No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 16 UMBC (7:45 p.m., truTV)

No. 1  Xavier vs. No. 9 Florida State (8:40 p.m., TNT)

No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 13 Marshall (9:40 p.m., TBS)

         

Only 2 Double-Digit Seeds Advance to Sweet 16

Six double-digit seeds pulled off upsets in the first round, with No. 16 UMBC's unreal triumph over No. 1 Virginia standing out among the pack.

No. 10 Butler, No. 11 Loyola-Chicago, No. 11 Syracuse, No. 13 Buffalo and No. 13 Marshall also have a chance to extend their Cinderella runs into the second weekend of the tournament.

In the last four tournaments, no team lower than a No. 11 seed has advanced to the Sweet 16, as two No. 10 seeds and five No. 11 seeds achieved the feat.

You have to go back to 2013 for the last time programs seeded lower than 11 participated in the second weekend, as Oregon, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast broke through as 12, 13 and 15 seeds respectively.

Given the way the 2018 NCAA tournament has gone so far, we won't be surprised if all six double-digit seeds advance, but in reality, some of the Cinderella stories are going to end.

Although Buffalo is playing with a ton of confidence following its drubbing of No. 4 Arizona, Loyola-Chicago is the lowest seed to move on from Saturday's action.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Ramblers proved they could win close games by hanging with No. 6 Miami before Donte Ingram's three-pointer with 0.3 seconds remaining won the first-round clash.

Buffalo is going to play No. 5 Kentucky tough, but John Calipari's Wildcats have too much talent on the floor to lose with a wide-open bracket ahead of them.

Sunday presents the better opportunity for chaos, as UMBC is expected to play with no fear against No. 9 Kansas State, while Marshall takes plenty of motivation into an in-state rivalry clash with No. 5 West Virginia.

As much as everyone hates to say it, Syracuse stands a chance against No. 3 Michigan State because of its pesky zone and Jim Boeheim's experience of leading a No. 10 seed to the Final Four in 2016.

While all three of those upsets could happen, Butler stands the best chance of moving on, as it faces a No. 2 Purdue team without Isaac Haas.

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

With the large paint presence out for the tournament with a fractured elbow, the Bulldogs show no fear in attacking the basket and overwhelm the Boilermakers with the shooting of Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin.

   

Big 12, Big East, ACC Put 3 Teams Each Into Second Weekend

Amid all the chaos, a few power conferences should rise above the pack in the second round.

The Big 12, Big East and ACC will put three teams each into the Sweet 16, as nine different conferences punch a ticket to the second weekend of the Big Dance.

No. 1 Kansas has the easiest route of the Big 12 teams to the Sweet 16, as it takes on a tricky senior-laden No. 8 Seton Hall. Although the Pirates should test the Jayhawks' frontcourt depth, Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk should outplay Seton Hall's guards.

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 24: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk #10 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots the ball from the corner during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on February 24, 2018 at United Supermarket Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Kansas defeated Texas Tech 7
John Weast/Getty Images

Kansas State and West Virginia are in more difficult predicaments, because they're taking on two of the best stories of the tournament.

The Wildcats have to find a way to quiet UMBC's train of momentum, while West Virginia must keep Marshall's Jon Elmore off the scoreboard.

Both Big 12 teams will utilize their strengths in the backcourt to create separation, while the Mountaineers also benefit from Sagaba Konate's play in the paint against Marshall's Ajdin Peneva.

No. 1 seeds Villanova and Xavier looked unstoppable in their respective first-round games, and it's going to take an otherworldly performance to beat either Big East team in the second round.

The only way the Wildcats or Musketeers lose is if No. 9 Alabama's Collin Sexton produces the game of his life against Jay Wright's team.

As we mentioned above, Butler's chances of making the Sweet 16 grew exponentially once Haas was ruled out.

Although Virginia is out of the tournament, No. 2 Duke, No. 2 North Carolina and No. 5 Clemson will fly the flag high for the ACC.

SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 16: Marcquise Reed #2 of the Clemson Tigers shoots against Johnathon Wilkins #11 of the New Mexico State Aggies in the second half in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Viejas Arena on March 16, 2018 in S
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Duke's overall talent should create a gap between it and No. 7 Rhode Island, and if the Rams continue to struggle at the free-throw line, the Blue Devils could run away with a victory.

North Carolina faces a challenge in the paint from No. 7 Texas A&M's Tyler Davis and Robert Williams, but look for its guard play to pick apart the Aggies' defense and force the pair of powerful frontcourt players out of the lane on occasion.

While all the chaos occurred Friday night, Clemson quietly turned in an impressive performance over No. 12 New Mexico State, and with No. 4 Auburn inspiring zero confidence in itself from its rock fight against Charleston, Brad Brownell's team is poised to advance.

The SEC, Missouri Valley, West Coast, American, Big Ten and Mountain West will be represented as well in the Sweet 16, with the SEC being the only other league to produce multiple Sweet 16 teams.

     

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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