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My only half-as-sweet Sweet Sixteen picks

Only half of the 16 teams I picked last week made it to this week’s Sweet Sixteen round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball championship tournament.

Loyola of Chicago, Gonzaga, Clemson, Kansas, Duke, West Virginia, Villanova and Purdue were my survivors heading into this week..

Eight of sixteen isn’t too good a percentage, but it just might be better than a lot of folks pickings in this year’s topsy-turvy event.

And in the first two rounds of this year’s tourney, local favorite FSU got past two higher-seeded opponents to work its way into the Sweet Sixteen.

The ninth-seeded Seminoles bested an eighth-seeded Missouri team on Friday, 67-54, then on Sunday night FSU came from 12 points down with just over 10 minutes to go to upset number-one seeded Xavier, 75-70.

Xavier had eliminated FSU in the second round last year.

Here’s my predictions for this round.

South Region

In the South Region in Atlanta, I think Loyola will top Nevada and Kentucky will get by Kansas State on Thursday. Then I feel the underdog Chicago team will upset the Wildcats Saturday and be the first Final Four entrant.

West Region

Also on Thursday Texas A&M meets Michigan and FSU plays Gonzaga in the West Region games in Los Angeles.

FSU will face Gonzaga in a 10:07 p.m. game on TBS in the Staples Center, which will follow the Texas A&M-Michigan game. The winners of those games meet Saturday with the winner advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio Easter weekend.

I think A&M will be more athletic than Michigan and Gonzaga’s experience will do in FSU to set up a Zags meeting with the Aggies Saturday.

Gonzaga’s experience will again come to light in that game and we’ll have a second Final Four team.

East Region

In Boston, I think Villanova will outlast a physical West Virginia team and Purdue will squeak by Texas Tech.

Sunday, I think Nova will be too much for Purdue and the Wildcats will be the third Final Four team.

Midwest Region

In Thursday’s Omaha games Kansas will outgun Clemson and Duke will keep Syracuse at bay, setting up a great game Sunday which the Blue Devils will somehow win.

That gets Duke, Villanova, Gonzaga and Loyola to San Antonio the following week.

Reporter’s Warning

And again a warning. I could well miss all eight picks in the Sweet Sixteen first round. And in this year’s event I might not be the only one to do that.

By Joe Ferolito