Will the Sweet 16 provide the same type of adrenaline-pumping performances that the earlier rounds of March Madness have? I'm not so sure. This is usually where the proverbial cream rises to the top. This is where I'm parking my money for now. Note that the game lines can shift and that times are in eastern standard.
#3 Miami Hurricanes +4.0 over #2 Villanova Wildcats
Truth be told, Villanova has had a pretty easy walk through the tournament thus far. They blasted past Iowa and NC Asheville with relative ease, and are now in for a shock against the Miami Hurricanes.
A lot of people are betting that Villanova will flash their trademark offense, which has scored 77.5 points per game during the season, and averaged 86.5 over the first weekend of action. But Miami has a way of lulling teams into playing the slow, methodical style that they prefer.
This is the same Miami team that capsized a grizzled team from Wichita State last weekend, and barely lost to Virginia in conference play. The Canes lack ideal size, but this also feels like the type of game which will be too close for all parties involved. I don't love the way Villanova plays basketball and think that Miami can catch them with an offensive outburst that's rare from the Canes.
#2 Oklahoma Sooners -2.5 over #3 Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies put together one of the best comebacks in tournament history by thwarting the Northern Iowa Panthers in double overtime, but they're in for a whole different type of ballgame when they face Oklahoma. The Sooners are a steamroller that have the tournament's best player in Buddy Hield. He can do enough to keep the Sooners fighting in this one, and his teammates will eventually come in to supply the rest.
#1 Kansas Jayhawks -6.5 over #5 Maryland Terrapins
This is matchup hell for the overachieving Terrapins, who received a layup game against the Hawaii Warriors in the first round. Going from them and South Dakota State to the consensus favorites is going to be too steep of a curve to handle. This line is a gift from the oddsmakers. I have no idea why it's so low.
#4 Duke Blue Devils +3.0 over #1 Oregon Ducks (Thursday,
Strangely, the line on this game instantly doubled from where it opened. Oregon is undoubtedly a great team and are anchored down low by Chris Boucher, who performed admirably in the opening games, but he's about to get a lesson in post play from Duke's Marshall Plumlee who has continued to exceed expectations late in the season.
The danger here is that Oregon isn't ready for the combination of Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen, who form one of the most lethal combinations in the backcourt. Not only is Ingram staging a coup as the best player in the tournament after posting 45 total points in the first two games, Allen already won a national title last year, and is playing with the type of confidence a team can rally around.
This isn't a conventional upset considering who the underdog is, but I prefer the proven power of Duke over the questionable status that Oregon has as a number one seed. The Ducks will be the first top seed to fall.
#4 Iowa State Cyclones +5.0 over #1 Virginia Cavaliers
Make no mistake about this game. Iowa State is a legitimate threat. The Cyclones swirled up 82.1 points per game during the season, and held true to that average with 94 and 78 points against Iona and Little Rock.
Virginia is a massive step up from those two schools, but Iowa State can rally by ripping up the court with the turbulent offensive scheme they've crafted over the course of the season. The Cavs love to play methodical basketball, and if Iowa State gets rolling here, they'll have to abandon their strategy and turn this game into a track meet. Will they want to? Absolutely not. Can they stop Iowa State from doing so? I'm not totally sure. That's why I'm hedging with the points here.
#7 Wisconsin Badgers PK over #6 Notre Dame Irish
Nobody saw Wisconsin coming after they lost the last two games of their regular season so decisively. They've now barely squeaked by Pittsburgh and Xavier and…well, shouldn't they get their butts kicked by Notre Dame?
We've been down this road before with Wisconsin. They don't have Frank The Tank anymore, but they still have Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ, and seem destined to continue their groove under new head coach Greg Gard. The spirit of Bo Ryan lives in, damn it.
#11 Gonzaga Bulldogs -4.5 over #10 Syracuse Orange
Yeah, I'm not betting against Gonzaga again until they're eliminated from the tournament. I not only see them crushing Syracuse, I could see them bashing their way through Virginia or Iowa State en route to the Final Four. Domantas Sabonis is the real deal, and lesser teams have rallied around far worse big men (like Bryant Reeves and Rafael Araujo to name two). Syracuse is in for a world of hurt.
#1 UNC Tar Heels -5.5 over #5 Indiana Hoosiers (Friday,
Sorry, Indiana. I'm just not buying it. Beating Kentucky is a major achievement to be sure, but they were a damaged and injury plagued team to begin with. They are not the complete force of nature that the UNC Tar Heels are. Another lob of a line by the oddsmakers here. Don't look this gift horse in the mouth.
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