As if four days of March Madness action wasn’t enough for college basketball fans, the 2017 NCAA tournament still has plenty left in the tank. After all, the Sweet 16 still has to take place, and in said Sweet 16, No. 2 seed Arizona Wildcats will take on No. 11 seed Xavier Musketeers.
While this year’s version of the tournament didn’t see mega-upsets going down left and right, a No. 11 seed still managed to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16.
The Musketeers made it this far by taking down No. 6 seed Maryland Terrapins in the first round, and then destroying (that might be an understatement) No. 3 seed Florida State Seminoles in the second round. To make a long story short, Xavier took down Florida State by the score of 91-66.
As for Arizona, it took care of business against No. 15 seed North Dakota Fighting Hawks in the first round and No. 7 seed Saint Mary’s Gaels in the second round of the dance.
Believe it or not, the Musketeers started the 2016-17 college hoops season by being ranked as high as No. 7 in the polls. Unfortunately, they have had quite the roller-coaster ride this season, which featured the team losing guard Edmond Sumner to injury, and a six-game losing streak during Big East play at one point.
The Musketeers have, of course, put everything behind them, and have battled back to be one of the most surprising stories of the 2017 NCAA tournament.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats started the season by being ranked as high as No. 10, they were 30-4 entering the Big Dance, and no one should be surprised if Sean Miller’s squad takes the entire tournament.
Now that the stage has been set, let’s take a look at some bold predictions for this Sweet 16 battle.
Trevon Bluiett Continues To Be A Genius On Offense, Drops 23 Points
Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett has been shredding opposing defenses so far in the 2017 NCAA tournament — to say the least.
Bluiett led the team in scoring this season with 18.5 points per game, but he has been even better in the Big Dance — if fans can believe that. In two NCAA tournament games, the Musketeer is averaging 25 points per contest. He has also drained eight threes.
Don’t be surprised when he is making buckets left and right against Arizona, which will eventually lead to a 23-point (or more) performance.
Lauri Markkanen Drops Second Double-Double Of The Dance
Lauri Markkanen is a seven-foot freshman who can make it rain from deep. Just in case fans need some proof, here it is: Markkanen is shooting 43.3 percent from behind the arc, and he has made 68 threes in the process.
In the dance, he is averaging 18 points per game, and he is a big reason why the Wildcats have made it to the Sweet 16.
While Miller’s team is stacked with talent, which tends to be the case on a yearly basis for Arizona, Markkanen has been a star, and he will continue to impress NBA scouts with his second double-double of the Big Dance when the Wildcats take on the Musketeers. Side note: The freshman had 16 points and 11 boards against the Gaels.
The Musketeers Find A Way To Survive And Advance
The Wildcats had “Final Four” written all over them entering the dance. However, March Madness tends to bring the best out of teams, and that has certainly been the case for Xavier, a team that has not only had a tougher path than Arizona so far, but a team that looks like it is top-10 worthy once again.
It won’t be easy (knocking off a Miller-coached team never is), but if Bluiett continues to look like one of the best players in the 2017 NCAA tournament, then Xavier will continue to survive and advance.
The winner of this March Madness clash will go on to play the winner of the Gonzaga vs. West Virginia game, and in bold prediction fashion, said winner will be No. 11 seed Xavier.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]