Sweet 16 Picks Against the Spread

Sweet 16 Picks Against the Spread

NCAAB

Sweet 16 Picks Against the Spread

The first two rounds didn’t quite go as well as last year. First round: 9-7-1
Second round
: 4-5. As such, I decided to pick all the games in the Sweet 16 because shooters shoot, that’s what they do.

Kansas -5 vs Purdue: Only team in the tournament to win two games by 20+ points. Previous Purdue teams would have folded after 2nd half runs by Vermont and Iowa State. Now this one. Besides Caleb Swanigan, Vince Edwards is a very nice wing talent. Too bad he draws Josh Jackson, a Top 5 pick in the draft. Advanced stats don’t love Kansas; Ken Pom only has Kansas winning 79-76. But Kansas has a big edge in the backcourt as long as they don’t commit unforced turnovers like they did against Michigan State, should win comfortably. Feels like Kansas 77, Purdue 70. – HIT KANSAS WON 98-66.

West Virginia +3 vs Gonzaga: This is more of a Bob Huggins pick than anything. He’s only 1-2 in the Sweet 16 at WVU (lost to Kentucky, beat Washington, lost to Xavier), but with four days to prepare, I have a feeling he’ll throw some wrinkles at Mark Few. I thought Notre Dame had the ball handlers to handle Press Virginia; 10 turnovers in the first half got them into a deficit they couldn’t rally from. But can Adrian, Ahmad and Macon handle much bigger Gonzaga? Ken Pom has it 76-72. I think the Zags survive in overtime, 72-71. – PUSH GONZAGA WON 61-58

Arizona -7 vs Xavier: Leaning Wildcats here because they looked so bad against St. Mary’s (only four assists in the game) but still won and covered. Ken Pom has Xavier as the worst team left in the tournament, and remember, this is a team that got swept by Marquette, Villanova, Butler and lost to Creighton twice. Ken Pom says Arizona wins, 73-69. Is Xavier going to shoot 11-of-17 on three-pointers again, like it did against FSU? I’ll take Arizona 67-55. – LOSS XAVIER WON 73-71

Kentucky PICK ‘EM vs UCLA:

Kentucky’s defense has improved dramatically since the first half of the season, when it regularly gave up 75+ points. One big note on the previous matchup – Kentucky started four freshman and a sophomore. It now has a senior (Willis) in the starting lineup in place of a freshman for more experience. UCLA, meanwhile, has two seniors and a junior paired with the two terrific freshman. The guess here: De'Aaron Fox plays the defensive game of his life against Lonzo Ball, and Kentucky wins, 68-66. HIT KENTUCKY WON 86-75

Baylor -3 vs South Carolina

The public will probably be on the Gamecocks, given their rousing win over Duke in the 2nd round, but I like the Bears because I’m not sure South Carolina’s offense will travel. The Gamecocks were tremendous – in Columbia, which was essentially a home game. Per Ken Pom, the Gamecocks are the worst offensive team left in the field (122nd), but they beat Marquette and Duke on the offensive glass. But if Johnathan Motley (5th best defensive rebounder left in the tournament) can stay out of foul trouble, the Bears should be fine. Baylor 68, South Carolina 63. – MISS SOUTH CAROLINA WON 70-50

Wisconsin +2 vs Florida

Zero feel on this game, but I’ll go with the experienced Badgers, who might actually have the best three players on the floor. Ken Pom and the stats love Florida, but this isn’t the same team without injured John Egbunu, whose season ended last month. They simply destroyed a vastly overrated Virginia team. Badgers 59, Gators 56. – HIT FLORIDA WON 84-83

UNC -7 vs Butler

The Tar Heels let me down against Arkansas, but they should bounce back against a Butler team – that like the Razorbacks – will be outmanned inside. If you love the idea of Sweet 16 upsets, you may want to read this. North Carolina 76, Butler 64. HIT NORTH CAROLINA WON 92-80

Michigan -1 vs Oregon

No feel on this one. Just hoping for a fun, high-scoring game between two good coaches and a bevy of good shooters. The matchups may actually favor Oregon, and can Michigan really continue this hot streak of shooting? The Wolverines made 16-of-29 three-pointers vs Oklahoma State and only won by one. I’ll go with Michigan, 82-79. – MISS OREGON WON 69-68

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