It’s a Big East showdown on Saturday when the Jays hosts the Friars in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. This is also the only game from the Third Round that involves two unseeded teams. Creighton defeated Tulsa 3-0 in the openera and then knocked off No. 16 seed Kentucky in the Second Round. The Jays head home to Morrison Stadium where they have been one of the best teams during Elmar Bolowich’s tenure. However, Creighton is facing a red-hot Friars team this week. Providence defeated Delaware 2-0 in the First Round and then knocked off No. 1 seed Maryland 5-4 in the Second Round. Team unity and confidence is one of the most difficult attributes to account for in the postseason and Providence is leading Division I in those categories. The teams split the season series 1-1 with each team winning on the road.
Prediction: Creighton 1-1 Providence, Creighton wins in PKs
It’s another conference battle in Syracuse on Sunday when the Orange hosts the Tar Heels in an ACC showdown in the Third Round. Syracuse defeated Dartmouth 3-0 in the last round while North Carolina survived a scare from Florida Gulf Coast. These teams played to a scoreless draw in their first meeting this season. Better yet, there were only seven shots on goal over 110 minutes of play in the first game. There is very that separates these teams. It might not be the most entertaining 90 minutes of soccer on Sunday, but the winner of this game has a home game in the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Syracuse 1-0 North Carolina
Virginia should probably be considered the biggest underdog of the Third Round. The Cavaliers looked sloppy in the Second Round win against Vermont. They are also traveling across the country for this game, which is by far the farthest distance any team is traveling this weekend. The Cardinal defeated Pacific 2-0 in the Second Round. The Pac-12 Champions are 8-1-2 at home this season.
Prediction: Stanford 2-0 Virginia
Louisville defeated Notre Dame 1-0 in the first meeting this season between the programs. The Irish were No. 1 at the time and look like the top team in Division I. Today’s Irish side looks and feels considerably different. Notre Dame has not been back to that level since that loss to the Cardinals. If these teams were both at 100%, Louisville would be the favorite. However, the Cardinals were battered and bruised against UCLA last week and probably won’t have the full compliment of players available for Sunday’s clash.
Prediction: Notre Dame 1-0 Louisville
Clemson survived a scare from local rival South Carolina in the Second and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The Tigers are in for a battle on Sunday. Albany might be the best team to watch left in this competition. They have the right mix of skill and exuberance to wrangle the attention of neutral supporters. This is the biggest test the Great Danes have faced since October. Albany’s been on a great run recently with only one goal conceded in their last four games. Clemson is a terrific program that has been on the rise to steady dominance on the national scene. This should be one of the best games of the Third Round.
Prediction: Clemson 2-1 Albany
The Huskies and Pioneers advanced to the Third Round after impressive wins in the past round. The Pioneers defeated UNLV 3-0 last week to extend this season’s unbeaten run and take the title as the last unbeaten team left in Division I. The Huskies surged past New Mexico 4-1 in Seattle. This game is the best one on the schedule for the Sweet Sixteen. Coaches Jamie Clark and Jamie Franks have been terrific for their respective programs. Clark and Franks will have their teams ready for this game.
Prediction: Denver 1-0 Washington
Indiana is flying the flag for the Big Ten in the NCAA Tournament. The Hoosiers are the last ones left from the Big Ten Conference after Michigan State was upset in the First Round and Maryland was knocked off in the Second Round. Indiana beat the big bad bully on the block, Akron, in the Second Round. With that monkey off the back, the Hoosiers are dreaming of a Quarterfinals appearance. Up next for the Hoosiers is an ACC-foe in Virginia Tech, which went on the road and defeated No. 10 Charlotte in the last round. Virginia Tech is one of the most difficult teams to play against in Division I. They are physical and agitating. They like to rile up the opposition and take advantage of the mistakes due to the emotions expended throughout the game. Virginia Tech’s physicality combined with a bit of skill has proven to be a lethal weapon during this postseason. The Hokies have enough punch in the attack to keep them in any game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 2-1 Indiana
SIUE just keeps pulling off upsets in this competition. The shocking run puts SIUE up against the best team in the NCAA Tournament in Wake Forest, which is still riding high after a run to the ACC Tournament Championship and then a 2-0 victory over Coastal Carolina in the second round. The Demon Deacons will be looking to put together a similiar performance against SIUE on Sunday. SIUE has been tough to break down during the NCAA Tournament, but the quality of the Wake Forest midfielder should be too much for the underdogs in this one.
Prediction: Wake Forest 2-0 SIUE
TDS Record: 20-12