April 17, 2021

Lynq Sports

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March Madness Round of 32: Betting Previews and Predictions – All 16 Games!

By the College Basketball Staff

WestEastSouthMidwest
#1 Gonzaga vs #8 Oklahoma#1 Michigan vs #8 LSU#1 Baylor vs #9 Wisconsin#1 Illinois vs #8 Loyola (Chicago)
#5 Creighton vs #13 Ohio#5 Colorado vs #4 Florida State#5 Villanova vs #13 North Texas#12 Oregon State vs #4 Oklahoma State
#6 USC vs #3 Kansas#11 UCLA vs #14 Abilene Christian#6 Texas Tech vs #3 Arkansas#11 Syracuse vs #3 West Virginia
#7 Oregon vs #2 Iowa##10 Maryland vs #2 Alabama#7 Florida vs #15 Oral Roberts#10 Rutgers vs #2 Houston

All games are in p.m. ET unless otherwise specified.
This piece will be updated regularly with more games as they are completed.

West

#1 Gonzaga vs #8 Oklahoma

Tip: Monday, 2:40 on CBS | Spread: Gonzaga -14 | Total: 154.5

I’m going to double down on the brevity that got me in trouble with Illinois yesterday and jump in on Gonzaga with a “don’t overthink this” pick. Gonzaga has the best offense in the country by a pretty large margin and their pace also tops Division 1 hoops. Oklahoma struggled to dispatch Missouri and will be down their second leading scorer for this game as well. As much as I would like for the upsets to continue and this game to be close, it won’t be. Great teams make good teams look mediocre and that’s what we’re going to see with Gonzaga again. Oklahoma is a very good team, but without De’Vion Harmon, I won’t be overthinking this.

The Pick: Gonzaga -14

-Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#13 Ohio vs #5 Creighton

Tip: Monday, 6:10 on TNT | Spread: Creighton -5.5 | Total: 148.5

Ohio contributed to the madness in the first round. A combination of poor shooting from No. 4 seed Virginia and domination on the boards by the Bobcats led to a 62-58 upset. Mid-America Conference Player of the Year Jason Preston put together a stellar performance, recording 11 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. Both Preston and forward Ben Vander Plas (17 points, 5 rebounds) played all 40 minutes of the game. 

Creighton fans endured a nail-biting first round game against UC Santa Barbara. The Bluejays were held on the ropes for the entire contest before the Gauchos missed an open layup to take the lead in the final seconds. Marcus Zegarowski led the Bluejays with 17 points and 8 assists, and Christian Bishop held down the paint, dropping 15 points and grabbing 11 boards. 

Both of these teams typically play fast and flashy basketball, taking a lot of shots and running the floor well. Each squad ranks in the top 75 in all of college basketball in offensive rating, effective field goal % and 3-point %. On top of that, Ohio isn’t great at defending the perimeter, which could cost them against a Creighton team that is 30th in 3-point attempt rate. 

Don’t let the low scoring first-round outings from these squads fool you. Even though they won, Ohio succumbed to Virginia’s sedated tempo (Virginia plays at the slowest pace in the country). Creighton was taken out of its rhythm by UCSB’s size. Neither of those factors will be present in this game. 

Creighton should have no issues getting its shooters going, while Ohio’s speed and transition game could prove problematic for the Bluejays. Expect a lot of points in what should be an entertaining matchup. 

The Pick: Over 148.5

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

#6 USC vs #3 Kansas

Tip: Monday, 9:40 on CBS | Spread: USC -1.5| Total: 134.5

USC was able to fend off an upset effort from Drake in the first round, leading to a 72-56 victory over the 11-seed Bulldogs. The Brothers Mobley were their usual dominant selves, cleaning the class and owning the paint for the entire contest. Evan Mobley, a projected top-5 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks while his older brother, Isaiah Mobley, recorded 15 points and 5 rebounds. As expected from a team with a pair of 7-foot monsters lurking down low, the Trojans hang their hat on rebounding and dunks, constantly crashing the boards.

Kansas had one of the bigger upset scares of the day on Sunday when Eastern Washington jumped out to an 8-point lead at halftime. Eventually, Bill Self settled his squad down and the Jayhawks pulled away in the final 10 minutes, but it was far from a flawless performance. Guards Myles Garrett (21 pts, 8 reb) and Ochai Agbaji (20 pts, 7 reb) had fantastic outings, but it was the big man, David McCormack, who was the difference maker, dropping 22 points and grabbing 9 boards. 

There are a lot of factors that go into this second round matchup, especially on the Kansas side. I wouldn’t let that lackluster first half frighten you, considering the team was coming off a COVID pause that forced them to withdraw from the Big 12 tournament, thus keeping them off the court for almost two weeks. Adding to that, the Jayhawks expect star freshman forward Jalen Wilson to return to the lineup Monday after being sidelined for COVID protocol in the first round. Wilson was one of Kansas’ most productive players all season, so getting him back on the floor will be crucial. 

USC has proven themselves to be somewhat one-dimensional, often relying heavily on its big men to put up big numbers in order to win. Even though the Mobleys will have a clear height advantage on Kansas, McCormack and Wilson have proven they can hold their own against elite big men. On top of that, Garrett and Ogbaji are arguably the best guard duo remaining in the field, so the edge lies with Kansas in the backcourt. 

Kansas has the ability to take USC out of its comfort zone with solid guard play and outside shooting, but I still expect this contest to be incredibly close, hence the miniscule point spread. If it does come down to the wire, Kansas is substantially better from the free throw line, which could make or break this game. I’ll take the Jayhawks to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16 in what has the potential to be the most thrilling clash in the Round of 32. 

The Pick: Kansas +1.5

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

#7 Oregon vs #2 Iowa

Tip: Monday, 12:10 on CBS | Spread: Iowa -5.5 | Total: 148

The Iowa Hawkeyes have a chance to make the Sweet 16 for the first time in over 20 years. Coach Fran McCaffery and the team defeated #15 Grand Canyon on Saturday 86-74. The Hawks played some of the best basketball we have seen from them this year, shooting 53.7% from the field and 45.5% from beyond the arch. Dynamic duo Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp lived up to team expectations. The All-American senior Garza scored 24 pts with 6 boards, while junior guard Wieskamp totaled 16 pts, 8 reb, and 5 ast. The Hawks have a tough road ahead of them, but have the veteran presence and compatibility required to make a deep run in this tournament. 

#7 Oregon had their first game of the tournament against #10 VCU called off due to the pandemic. We can look at this one of two ways. The Ducks have not played a game of basketball since the 12th and could come off rusty, or the team will be fresh and well rested. Either way, Oregon is a deep team with a lot of experience. The top three scorers on the roster in Eugene Omoruyi (16.7), Christ Duarte (16.7), and LJ Figueroa (12.3), are all seniors who have each scored over 1000 points in their careers. The Ducks have a quick and lengthy back court with no starters under 6-foot-5. This should present some issues for Iowa’s lackadaisical perimeter defense. 

I tend to take the view of this bye for the Ducks being a hindrance. Instead of playing #10 VCU, Oregon will have to play one of the best shooting offenses in the nation in their first game. I think the Ducks will be rusty while the Hawks are looking pretty refined. Because of that, I’m taking Iowa to cover this spread.

The Pick: Iowa -5.5

-Carter Benson (@CarterDBenson)

East

#1 Michigan vs #8 LSU

Tip: Monday, 7:10 on CBS | Spread: Michigan -4.5| Total: 148

Michigan won with relative ease over Texas Southern Saturday afternoon by a score of 82-66. The Wolverines shot the ball 48.1% from the field, along with cashing in on nine three-pointers during the game. The 48.1% was right at the season average for Michigan shooting the ball from the field this season (48.3%; 15th in Division-I). The Wolverines caused havoc for the Texas Southern shooters all game, especially beyond the three-point line. On the day, Texas Southern only made one three point shot on 12 attempts. Not surprising, the Wolverines outrebounded the Tigers 33-23 for the game as well. Mike Smith led the way with scoring, netting 18 points in the game. Hunter Dickinson was right on his tail, scoring 16 points on the day. Franz Wagner did a little bit of everything for Michigan in Saturday’s game. The freshman guard had 9 points, six assists and nine rebounds in the game. It appears likely the Wolverines will be without Isaiah Livers this evening, as he continues battling his injury problems.

With only two teams remaining from the Big Ten Conference along with Michigan (Iowa and Maryland), the pressure is on for this conference to produce. The Big Ten received the most teams in the Field of 64 (nine teams), but they have severely underwhelmed in the NCAA Tournament thus far. Michigan and Iowa appear to be the likely sources to carry the Big Ten name into the Sweet 16 and beyond.

Boy, the first half of the LSU and St. Bonaventure game was brutal to watch. With nearly ten minutes of game time elapsed, the score stood at 10-8 in favor of LSU. The Tigers took a 31-22 lead at halftime over the Bonnies and never looked back from that point on. Cameron Thomas, one of the nation’s best scorers, had 27 points on the day, along with four rebounds and three assists. Trendon Watford had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers. The Tigers also had a pair of double-doubles from Darius Days (13 points and 11 rebounds) and Aundre Hyatt (13 points and 10 rebounds). The Tigers had a whopping 49 rebounds in the game, and the Tigers only committed nine turnovers. As rough as the shooting was to start the day, LSU ended up shooting 40.3% from the field, and an impressive 81.8% rate from the charity stripe. Call it bad offense or good defense, the Tigers held the Bonnies in check on offense. St. Bonaventure shot 33.3% from the field and 15% from beyond the three-point line.

On the season, LSU has been one of the stronger teams on offense this season. The Tigers look to run teams off the court, as they are averaging 81.9 points per game this season (7th in Division-I). The Tigers are shooting a blistering 52.8% from the field this season as well (62nd in Division-I). As we saw against St. Bonaventure, the Tigers are active on the glass, averaging 38.7 rebounds per game this season (28th in Division-I). LSU has covered the spread in five straight contests, whereas Michigan has covered the spread twice in their last six outings. I am going to roll with the hotter of the two teams here right now which I believe is LSU. I think LSU might have a chance to win this game outright, but I will go ahead and take the points for insurance. I am going with LSU +4.5 as my best bet.

The Pick: LSU +4.5

-Jack O’Keefe (@jpokeefe1s)

#5 Colorado vs #4 Florida State

Tip: Monday, 7:45 on TBS | Spread: FSU -1.5 | Total: 140.5

The Seminoles ground out a low-scoring 64-54 slugfest against UNC Greensboro Saturday where FSU barely did not cover the -10.5 spread or even come near the 144 o/u. It was a wire-to-wire victory but it definitely wasn’t the prettiest game of basketball FSU has played this season. They couldn’t knock down a single 3-point shot on their 9 attempts so the saving factor in the game was the rebounding ability of Rayquan Gray and Balsa Koprivica combining for 12 defensive rebounds of their 16 total. FSU won by taking away second chance opportunities and outlasting the Spartans. Against more secure offensive teams, they won’t fare as well if they play like they did on Saturday. 

In one of the few blowouts so far, Colorado beat down a Georgetown team that some picked as an early upset. The Buffs finished shooting 64% from 3pt range netting 16 triples. Saturday night’s game is a huge boost for this team’s confidence going forward and the Pac12 is proving to be solid picks in March. That game saw Jabari Walker lead the team in scoring off the bench with 24 points on a scorching 90% from the field earning him the game MVP. Behind him was McKinley Wright IV with an 12-point, 13-assist double double making a solid case for most valuable point guard remaining in the field. It was one of the team’s most dominant offensive performances of the season but their defense held Patrick Ewing’s squad to 23 points and a 24-point cushion going into halftime. The block/steal numbers won’t show how quickly Colorado closed out on screens and clogged up the paint to compensate for Georgetown’s size advantages. They’re going to need to keep going back to that well because the Seminoles are one of the tallest in D-1 and their pace could cause the Buffs some problems. KenPom has them ranked 10th overall in the country and 25th in defense where FSU is ranked 17th and 42nd respectively. Both teams are extremely athletic but I’m taking the hotter team; Colorado (+105) to survive and advance over FSU.

The Pick: Colorado ML (+105)

-Quin Pezoldt (@quinteneveret16)

#11 UCLA vs #14 Abilene Christian

Tip: Monday, 5:15 on TBS | Spread: UCLA -4.5 | Total: 133

It took a round and some change but I finally won my first bet in the NCAA March Madness Tournament. I cashed the over 137 in Baylor vs. Wisconsin and that moved me to 1-4 on the tourney – Don’t let me get hot! 

Anyways, we witnessed a couple of big upsets on Saturday night with UCLA besting BYU and Abilene Christian advancing against in-state foe, Texas. No time to celebrate as these two are back at it on 1 day’s rest and we have a thriller on our hands. Well, I’ll get right into it. By now we all know that I’m not “Johnny College Hoops” so I’m going to give my pick and get out of here. Give me the over on 133 (-109) for a unit. Johnny Juzang will carry us to this over – he’s been going off this tournament! 

The Pick: Over 133

-Trent Pruitt (@trentbets)

#10 Maryland vs #2 Alabama

Tip: Monday, 8:45 on TNT | Spread: Alabama -6 | Total: 137.5

Out of the two teams, I would say that Maryland impressed me more in their win over UConn than Alabama did in their win over Rick Pitino and Iona. After limping into the big 10 tournament with bad losses to Northwestern and Penn State, I thought the Terps were done for; but, outside of a lopsided lost to number 1 seed Michigan, the Terps had a nice upset over tournament team Michigan State as well as their most recent first round 9 point upset over the Huskies who were even picked by some to upset the Tide. Maryland’s calling card is their defense. They are ranked 25th in the country led by the Big 10 defensive player of the year Darryl Morsell. The Achilles heel of the Terps is their offense. Oftentimes they get into scoring droughts and don’t have many great options to break it. They rank 232nd in the country in scoring at 68.6 PPG.

The Tide continues to roll, defeating the Gaels 68-55 in the opening round. They have now won 7 games in a row and 10 out of their last 11. Alabama is led by their #1 in the country defense and their Best player Herb Jones. Jones is not only the best player for the ride, he was also the SEC player of the year as well as the SEC defensive player of the year! That’s pretty remarkable especially considering 3 of his teammates average more points than him. Alabama is a better version of what Maryland wants to do, play great defense and score enough to win. The Tide have the best defense in the country and have a significant advantage on the offensive side of the ball. I like the Tide to win this one handily. Take Alabama -6.

The Pick: Alabama -6

-Matthew Vale (@matthewvale15)

South

#1 Baylor vs #9 Wisconsin

Tip: Sunday, 2:40 ET on CBS | Spread: Baylor -6 | Total: 137 

Take the over on 137 (-105) in this one for a unit. Not much analysis here. I’m 0-4 in the tourney so I’m just firing. Wisconsin just dropped a million on UNC and Baylor is the best 3-point team in the league. I’m expecting points. Maybe I’ll cash a ticket. 

The Pick: Over 137

-Trent Pruitt (@trentbets)

#5 Villanova vs #13 North Texas

Tip: Sunday, 8:45 ET on TNT | Spread: Villanova -5.5 | Total: 127

The Wildcats came into the NCAA Tournament without their starting point guard, Collin Gillespie. Prior to Friday night’s game, the Wildcats were 0-2 with Gillespie at the helm. Facing a Winthrop team with only one loss, it felt like the perfect storm for a ’12-5 upset pick’. For parts of the first half, it felt like there might be something magic in the air for the Eagles too. Villanova, like any well-coached team will do, came out though with adjustments in the second half. The offensive prowess kicked up, and the Wildcats quickly stretched their one point lead at halftime to nine points in just under four minutes of game time. Winthrop hung around though, and only trailed at times by four points to the top regular season team in the Big East Conference. Villanova kept their composure, and the Wildcats edged the Eagles by 10 points to move on to the Round of 32. The Wildcats only committed six turnovers the entire game against Winthrop. On the season Villanova turns the ball over a mere nine times per game (2nd in Division-I). It can be an upward battle trying to uproot a team that values the ball each possession, especially at the degree in which Villanova values it.

The Wildcats are without Collin Gillespie, but they still have three main scoring threats: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Robinson and Jermaine Samuels. Robinson-Earl had 22 points and 11 points on Friday night. Justin Moore poured in 15 points, while Samuels had 11 points for the Villanova offense. The Wildcats were close to their season average Friday night from downtown as they shot 32% on the night (35.2% on the season; 99th in Division-I). It may not always be the sexiest brand of basketball at times, but at the end of the day, Coach Wright simply knows how to win on the biggest stages.

North Texas sent shock waves through the NCAA Tournament with their stunning overtime win against the lone Hoosier state representative in the NCAA Tournament: Purdue. The Mean Green held the Boilermakers to 24 points in the first half. Purdue looked uncomfortable and incapable of finding their groove offensively against the Conference USA Tournament Champs. On the evening, Purdue shot the ball an abysmal 36.2% from the field. Make no mistake though, the Mean Green are incredibly legit on defense this season. They hold their opponent to 40.3% from the field (26th in Division-I) and teams are scoring an average of 60.6 points per game against North Texas (5th in Division-I). The Mean Green were 0-3 against teams in the NCAA Tournament this season, but they will gladly take a 1-3 record with that lone win coming in the Round of 64. The Mean Green are led by former two-star high school recruit and no Division-I offers from high school, Javion Hamlet. The sophomore Memphis native is averaging 15.3 points per game this season, and he scored 24 of North Texas’ 78 points Friday night. The Mean Green shot an impressive 47.5% from the field and 86.7% from the charity stripe.

Seeing the euphoria from Hamlet and his father throughout the game is the exact reason why March Madness is one of the greatest sport events each year. It truly is one of a kind, and I cannot express how thankful I am to have it back this year. The Mean Green picked up their first NCAA Tournament win in program history, so even if they get blown out by the Wildcats on Sunday, this is going to be a historic season for the Mean Green basketball program. The Mean Green have covered the spread in five straight games, but I am not sure really how recharged the team will be following the monumental victory. Javion Hamlet will forever be a folk hero in the UNT program and we are certain to see him in One Shining Moment following the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament… but I think Jay Wright is going to have the Wildcats ready to ensure the Mean Green do not sniff a way into the Sweet 16. I do however think it might be a single digit affair, making the cover for Villanova a bit of a coin flip. Close games might have a lot of free throws down the stretch, so I am going to take a flyer on the O127 as my best bet.

The Pick: Over 127

-Jack O’Keefe (@jpokeefe1s)

#6 Texas Tech vs #3 Arkansas

Tip: Sunday, 6:10 ET on TNT | Spread: Texas Tech -1 | Total: 140.5

The team names aren’t the sexiest in the tournament, or even in their conferences, but this game has the potential to be one of the best of the entire tournament. Texas Tech is one of the most solid defensive sides in the country while Arkansas rivals that ability, both teams showing good balance with offenses that can score handily. Neither team was even able to make the finals of their respective conference tournaments, but that just goes to show the depth of their conferences, their strength of schedule, and their mettle to make it out in such good shape.

Arkansas (23-6) is arguably a top ten defensive team in the nation and is ranked 15th in KenPom, but you might not know it if you were just looking at the stats. While they defend so well, shutting down some of the country’s best offenses in the SEC, they scored the 7th most points per game in the country at 82.5. The Razorbacks play with a physicality that many teams can’t rival, using the size of Moses Moody, Justin Smith, and Jalen Tate, and that doesn’t even mention their 7-3 monster in the middle, Connor Vanover. Arkansas’s first game against Colgate saw them win despite a clear three point shooting advantage for the Raiders, but a heroic double-double for Smith saw Arkansas move on with ease. Closing down the three point line will be imperative for the Hogs in this next game.

Despite Nimari Burnett entering the transfer portal in the middle of the season, Texas Tech (18-10) has maintained a very good record in a division that’s extremely tough to compete in, especially this iteration. Tech supplied the country with some of the most exciting games of the year, largely in part to Mac McClung being such an exciting player, but also in part to the team being so balanced. There isn’t a sole big man in the middle, something that could cause issues against Vanover, but Marcus Santos-Silva has proven to be one of the best rebounders in the country on both ends of the court against a variety of big men. In addition, Terrance Shannon, Kyler Edwards, and Joel Ntambwe can all shoot the lights out on their night. The Red Raiders didn’t have too many issues with Utah State on Friday, but a decent shooting night could prove troublesome for Texas Tech if their game doesn’t improve against the Hogs.

This is going to be a close game and a fun one, one that ought to be back and forth for a majority of the game, but in the end I can’t see Arkansas making an early exit at this point. They certainly have their eyes set on the Elite 8 with Ohio State out, and their size and scoring are going to be nearly impossible to deal with. Texas Tech won’t be able to keep up with Arkansas and they’ll fall in accordance.

The Pick: Arkansas +1

-Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#7 Florida vs #15 Oral Roberts

Tip: Sunday, 7:45 ET on TRU| Spread: Florida -8.5| Total: 148

Oral Roberts quickly became darling of the 2021 NCAA Tournament after a 75-72 overtime victory over No. 2 seed Ohio State in the first round. The Summit League Champions got monumental performances from Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas, who dropped 30 and 29 points, respectively. Coming into the game, Oral Roberts was the best free throw shooting team in the country, which turned out to be the deciding factor, as the Eagles shot 77% from the stripe compared with Ohio State’s dismal 50%. The public was rightfully stunned by the upset, but analytics tell us that maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised. Oral Roberts ranks top 50 in the entire nation in all of the following statistical categories: pace, offensive rating, effective field goal %, turnover %, 3-point % and of course, free throw %. While the win over Ohio State may have been a shocking result, it certainly wasn’t a fluke.

The Eagles now take on Florida, who also earned a hard-fought overtime victory in the first round. The Gators took down Virginia Tech in a thrilling game that saw the Hokies hit a buzzer-beating three to tie it at the end of regulation. Colin Castleton led Florida with 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Scottie Lewis added 15 points off the bench. The Gators shot a staggering 57% from the field, constantly seeking high-percentage looks in the paint. 

The spread for this game surprised me because frankly, the Eagles match up really well with Florida and have the shooting ability to keep this game interesting until the final whistle. Abmas is as good of a scoring guard as you’ll find, while Obanor’s presence in the front court has become a major offensive weapon. Oral Roberts could struggle with Castleton’s size just like Virginia Tech did, but I don’t think Florida holds a big enough advantage in any facet of this game to justify such a large spread. I’ll happily back the darling Eagles plus the points.

The Pick: Oral Roberts +8.5

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

Midwest

#1 Illinois vs #8 Loyola (Chicago)

Tip: Sunday, 12:10 on CBS | Spread: Illinois -7.5 | Total: 133.5

This isn’t really a pick that I want to overthink. Illinois and Loyola will have something of a rivalry mindset coming into this game, but it’s going to be much more apparent on the side of Loyola. The smaller school is going to desperately want to take the crown of the state, but I don’t think the Ramblers have the facilities. Illinois is one of the best teams in the country for a reason. Their size is immense, powerful, and talented, while they have four guards who might go on to the NBA. The depth, rotation, talent, speed, and fact that they have Ayo Dosunmu should be enough to convince you: Illinois won’t have any issues with this matchup. Don’t overthink things.

The Pick: Illinois -7.5

-Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)

#12 Oregon State vs #4 Oklahoma State

Tip: Sunday, 9:40 ET on TBS | Spread: Oklahoma St. -6 | Total: 142

Oregon State is quietly putting together an impressive Cinderella story, considering they weren’t even close to earning a tournament bid before winning the Pac 12 championship. The Beavers pulled a classic 12 vs. 5 upset with a total throttling of Tennessee in the first round, dominating the Volunteers in all facets of the game from wire to wire en route to a 70-56 victory. Oregon State had four players in double figures offensively, but their defense was the X-factor, as they held Tennessee to just 33% from the field and an abysmal 19% from 3-point range (which is probably more due to Tennessee’s offensive struggles than Oregon State’s defensive prowess).

Even though Oklahoma State ended up covering the 7.5-point spread in its first round game against Liberty, it certainly didn’t come as easy as they hoped. An uncharacteristically mediocre performance from superstar guard Cade Cunningham forced the Cowboys’ role players to step up in a big way, and they did. Avery Anderson dropped 21 points while Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe added 9 points and 9 rebounds. Cunningham was held to just 15 points on 3/14 shooting. He will need to sharpen things up if his team wants to continue this run through March. 

These teams are polar opposites in terms of style. Oregon State plays at one of the slowest paces in all of college basketball, while Oklahoma State prides itself on getting out in transition and putting up shots quickly. Typically, the team that plays at a slow pace holds an edge defensively, but that isn’t the case here. The Cowboys are much better guarding in the half court and have all the tools to shut down a versatile Beavers offensive attack. 

I think Oregon State will be able to control the pace to a certain extent, but at the same time struggle to make shots against Oklahoma State’s superior perimeter defenders. Expect a slow, grueling game that fails to produce a lot of buckets.

The Pick: Under 142

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

#11 Syracuse vs #3 West Virginia

Tip: Sunday, 5:15 ET on CBS | Spread: West Virginia -3.5 | Total: 147.5

Two of the winningest coaches of all time face off as Jim Boeheim and Syracuse face off against Bob Huggins and West Virginia. Starting off looking at Syracuse, the Orange put together an impressive offensive performance in their upset victory over San Diego State. Even against a top 25 Aztec defense, Syracuse was able to shoot over 55 % from the field and from deep. Yes. They made 15 3 pointers! Most of the damage was done by Buddy Boeheim who had 30 points on 7 made threes.

West Virginia was able to mow by Moorhead State. The Mountaineers have one of the best offenses in the country ranking 10 the in the country in offensive efficiency. Miles McBride led the way for the Mountaineers with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. WVU as a team shot over 50% from the field and from deep. A little more troubling stat for West Virginia was that they also allowed the Eagles to shoot over 50% from both the field and from 3. WVU will have to tighten up that defense if they want to make it to the sweet 16 and beyond. 

This is a matchup of two teams with similar styles of very good offenses with average defenses. West Virginia ranks 66th in country in defensive efficiency and Syracuse ranks 94th in defensive efficiency. Against the zone of the Orange, the Mountaineers will have to use their 63td best 3 point shooting team in their he country to have another big day. Odds are they most likely won’t shoot 50% from deep again, but their defense should prevent Syracuse from shooting that high from deep. Huggins is an excellent coach and I bet he will scheme up a great game plan to contain Buddy Boeheim and force another Orange player to beat them. 

The Pick: West Virginia -3.5

-Matthew Vale (@matthewvale15)

#10 Rutgers vs #2 Houston

Tip: Sunday, 7:10 ET on TBS | Spread: Houston -8.5 | Total: 132

The Cougs are legit. Clyde and Hakeem are surely proud of the way the team steamrolled #15 Cleveland State (87-56) on Friday. I think it’s safe to say that the #2 Houston Cougars were one of the most impressive teams out of the round of 64. It was a below average night from deep for the Cougars. They only shot 7-25 from beyond the arch but their presence on the glass and intensity on defense propelled them to the biggest point differential in the tournament so far. Star guard Quintin Grimes is living up to his title of AAC player of the year. The junior took care of business with 18 pts, 4 reb, and 4 ast. If Houston continues to play with this amount of energy, saying they’ll make the Final Four may look like a solid take. 

#10 Rutgers managed to pull off the underdog victory on Friday over #7 Clemson (60-56). It was a tight and hard fought battle, but the Scarlet Knights have made it out of the first round. Unfortunately for Rutgers, they’ll be squaring off against one of the best teams in the tournament on Sunday. Houston outclasses the Knights in almost every major statistic including offensive rating, steal percentage, and three point percentage. Rutgers will need to play out of their minds in order to knock out this Cougar team, and yesterday didn’t give us much hope. The Knights played good team ball with evenly distributed statlines, but struggled shooting from everywhere on the court. It was very fortunate that Clemson played worse.

I see another big win coming from Houston on Sunday. They’re a dual threat and a high energy team. I can’t see Rutgers overcoming that. 

The Pick: Houston -8.5

-Carter Benson (@CarterDBenson)