Prediction of Sweet 16 games, including Texas vs Xavier

The second weekend of the NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday. For the first time since 2008, the Texas Longhorns are participating. The Longhorns meet up with a familiar Sweet 16 foe on Friday night.

Texas faces the Xavier Musketeers who sent Rick Barnes and company home for the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Since the game, Xavier has been a mainstay in college basketball through multiple head coach hires. The Longhorns look to join them as consistent contenders.

Rodney Terry has done well to avoid the minefields that have presented themselves to his fellow top seeds. Purdue, Kansas, Marquette and Arizona have already been eliminated as Top 2 seeds. His absences increase the likelihood that Texas can win it all. They will have to pass a difficult test in Xavier to get there.

Here’s a look at how the next round could play out.

No. 3 Kansas State and No. 7 Michigan State meet in a heavyweight clash to kick off the round of 16. K-State head coach Jerome Tang brings wits to combat Tom’s experience Izzo and the history of the Tournament. Ultimately, Kansas State is the better team. The Wildcats win a wire-to-wire battle.

For the third straight season, Arkansas continues to play in the Sweet 16. Eric Musselman has the Razorbacks playing well at the right time. They continue their streak of good play after victories over Kansas and Illinois.

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Rick Barnes’ defense stifled Duke’s offensive attack. FAU doesn’t have the greatest speed or athleticism. It could be difficult for Florida Atlantic to get baskets. Volunteers capitalize.

In what could be a back and forth battle, I’ll count on the best player to win the game. That player could be Drew Timme. Gonzaga pushes toward another Final Four berth.

I’m afraid Alabama is simply too good to lose this game if they show up prepared and perform well. Alabama wins by multiple baskets.

Miami may surprise, but Houston is expected to play better basketball. I think Houston could put everything together on Friday.

This Texas basketball team is special. Rodney Terry showed that he has what it takes to keep the team afloat when he isn’t playing his best game. Texas lost to Xavier 79-71 in the 2004 Sweet 16. Texas tops that performance with an 80-71 victory.