March Madness 2023 has been a tournament replete with upsets and surprise twist endings. In the Midwest region of the bracket, however, the 1-seed University of Houston has paved its path to the Sweet Sixteen.
Later this week, the Houston Cougars take on the Miami Hurricanes, a 5-seed school on the heels of two solid wins. Will Houston be able to stomp Miami on its way to the Elite Eight?
The Houston Cougars earned a 1-seed, which meant a mismatched contest against the Northern Kentucky Norse. The first-round game wasn’t much of a nail-biter. Houston earned the victory 63-52.
Next up, Houston met with the Auburn Tigers, a 9-seed fresh off a victory against the Big Ten’s University of Iowa. The Tigers didn’t put up much of a fight in this battle between big-cat mascots. The Cougars cruised to a 17-point win over Auburn, 81-64.
That victory cemented Houston as one of only two top-seeded teams remaining in the tournament, alongside the Alabama Crimson Tide. Houston now looks ahead to its Friday game against the Miami Hurricanes.
Miami earned a 5-seed in the round of 64, which pitted the Hurricanes against the underdog Drake Bulldogs, a 12-seed. The Dogs of Des Moines lost to Miami in a 63-56 defeat. Miami then set its sights on Indiana, a 4-seed. Miami decisively defeated the Hoosiers 85 to 69.
The Miami win against Drake was expected. A 5-12 matchup creeps into possible upset territory, but it didn’t faze the Hurricanes. Indiana was expected to provide much more of a challenge, but it turns out the Hoosiers couldn’t stifle Miami’s strong offensive roster. The Big Ten representatives from Bloomington fell in a rough defeat at the hands of the Hurricanes.
In short, Houston now faces its toughest opponent to date in the 2023 March madness tournament.
Tramon Mark and Marcus Sasser should both put up strong showings against Miami. In the bout with Auburn, Mark dropped 26 points in 37 minutes of play. Sasser racked up 22 points in 31 minutes on the court. Both are strong scoring threats.
Rounding out the Cougars, you’ve got Jamal Shead, a team player who earned five assists, two rebounds, and 10 points against Auburn. Jarace Walker scored seven points, but contributed to the offensive play with 10 rebounds. J’Wan Roberts did the same, nabbing six points, two assists, and seven rebounds.
Armed with a well-rounded offensive roster, Houston should do some good work on the court against Miami.
Miami is not to be discounted, however. Isaiah Wong scored 27 points against Indiana. Jordan Miller scored 19. Norchad Omier snagged a whopping 17 rebounds, keeping Miami in the game and driving scoring plays from the defensive end.
This is a tough one to call. The seeding says Houston should be the easy bet here, but Miami’s showings have been incredible in the past two games.
Based solely on overall performance in the tournament so far, I give Miami the slight edge to take home the victory and slide into the elite eight. That means Houston’s downfall is imminent, but what’s another upset in a year of surprises?
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