Ranking the Sweet 16 Games: Kansas the Biggest Favorite, Four Coin-Flips

Ranking the Sweet 16 Games: Kansas the Biggest Favorite, Four Coin-Flips


Ranking the Sweet 16 Games: Kansas the Biggest Favorite, Four Coin-Flips

Indiana vs North Carolina (-5.5), Friday, 10 pm

No debate at all – this is the premiere game. Yogi Ferrell had 18 points and only one turnover against Tyler Ulis of Kentucky. Freshman Thomas Bryant was the big star, scoring 19 points, but he’ll have it much tougher against UNC’s beefy Kennedy Meeks. Bouncy OG Anunoby, who is super fun to watch, may end up defending Brice Johnson (21 points, 10 rebounds vs Providence) some. I’m not sure Indiana has anyone good to match up with him. Ken Pom says: Tar Heels 82-78.

Kansas (-7) vs Maryland, Thursday, 9:40 pm

As up-and-down as Maryland has been, the Terps could be a difficult matchup for the Jayhawks, assuming they stay out of foul trouble. I’m curious to see who draws Wayne Selden, the inside-outside dunking machine. Do the Terps try Jake Layman or Robert Carter? Whoever draws the short straw; the other guy gets to defend old man Perry Ellis. I’d love to take the Terps, because on paper it should be competitive … but I still don’t trust Maryland. Ken Pom says: Jayhawks, 76-70.

Wayne Selden Kansas dunk UConn

Duke vs Oregon (-2), Thursday, 10:05 pm

The Ducks are carrying the torch for the Pac-12, which had an awful March. Duke’s going to have major problems matching up with Dillon Brooks (25 points vs St. Joseph’s) and freshman Tyler Dorsey. St. Joe’s slowed Oregon with a zone, so expect Duke to try some of the same. Duke was crushed on the offensive glass by Yale, and nearly blew a huge lead; Oregon is a very good offensive rebounding team, led by senior stringbean Chris Boucher.  Ken Pom says: Ducks 78-77.

Villanova (-4.5) vs Miami, Thursday, 7:10 pm

Can Miami survive again with Angel Rodriguez doing everything? Miami’s blown to leads in the NCAA Tournament, but held to win thanks to Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. The backcourt scored 44 of 79 against Buffalo; 46 of 65 against Wichita State. The problem here is Villanova has three very good guards, and I give them the edge inside, too. Ken Pom says: Wildcats, 72-68. 

Iowa State vs Virginia (-5.5), Friday, 7:10 pm

The #3 offense according to Ken Pom (Cyclones) vs the #4 defense (Cavaliers). After Butler’s Andrew Chrabascz (25 points) torched Virginia for the first 30 minutes, the Cavs put Malcolm Brogdon on him and the ACC’s best defender shut him down. Brogdon also scored 22 points. Expect Brogdon to defend Monte Morris, one of the nation’s most underrated point guards. Georges Niang lit up Arkansas Little-Rock for 28 points (3-of-5 three-pointers) and it’ll be interesting to see if Anthony Gill chases him to the perimeter. Ken Pom says: Cavaliers 73-68.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MARCH 20: The Texas A&M Aggies bench celebrates against the Northern Iowa Panthers during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena on March 20, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Oklahoma (-2) vs Texas A&M, Thursday, 7:37 pm

The Sooners are 0-1-1 against the spread so far, twice coughing up significant 2nd half leads. That’s a problem with a shot-happy team. And that’s bad news going against a team like Texas A&M, which clearly is never dead, as evidenced by the Greatest Comeback Ever against Northern Iowa. Strangely, this game reminds me of Oklahoma’s Elite 8 game last year against Michigan State. The Sooners led at the half, led with 7:12 left, then blew the game with a flurry of misses late (and they didn’t cover, either). How can Buddy Hield top his 36-point performance against VCU? Ken Pom says: Sooners, 73-72.

Notre Dame (-1) vs Wisconsin, Friday, 7:25 pm

The Irish survived plucky Stephen F. Austin, and are one win away from back-to-back trips to the Elite 8. Standing in the way are the resourceful Badgers, who were supposed to take a step back when Frank the Tank and Sam Dekker left, but Wisconsin rallied to beat Pitt in the 1st round, and then shocked Xavier on two late Bronson Koenig 3-pointers. The most difficult matchup for the offensively-challenged Badgers will be Irish point guard Demetrius Jackson (29 points in two NCAA Tournament games). Stat to watch – the Irish are the worst defensive team left in the field, by far (172nd). Ken Pom says: Badgers, 66-65.

Bronson Koenig game-winner

Gonzaga (-4.5) vs Syracuse, Friday, 9:40 pm 

The least appealing matchup for a number of reasons. This just isn’t a good Syracuse team, despite blowing out Dayton and Middle Tennessee State. And this isn’t a Top 5 team Gonzaga has had over the last 15 years. Yet here we are. The Orange have several large bodies to throw at Domantas Sabonis (40 points, 26 rebounds in two games), and the most intriguing might be freshman Tyler Lydon. Neither backcourt is impressive. Feels low-scoring. Ken Pom says: Zags 68-66.

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