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NCAA Tournament 2022: B/R Expert Predictions for Second Round of Men’s Tourney | Bleacher Report


0 of 16

    Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren

    Gonzaga’s Chet HolmgrenCraig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    The first round of the 2022 men’s NCAA tournament had some wildly unpredictable results, most notably Saint Peter’s shocking Kentucky in one of the biggest upsets ever.

    But that doesn’t mean we stop diving into the matchups and trying to figure out what to expect in the second round of the dance.

    After all, we did get most of the games right. (But, yes, my bracket went straight in the trash when Kentucky lost. No one’s perfect.)

    For each of the 16 games coming up on Saturday and Sunday, we’ll briefly sum up what it would take for each team to win before also offering a spot where you might consider placing a wager.

    And, for the record, I did bet on everything suggested, with the exception of the games in my home state (for which I’m not allowed to make any wagers for who knows what legal reason). And if you followed my advice in the first round, here’s hoping you’re enjoying those winnings as much as I am. Time to turn that money into more money.

    Games are listed in chronological order, from North Carolina-Baylor straight through to Arizona-TCU.   

1 of 16

    Baylor's Adam Flagler

    Baylor’s Adam FlaglerLM Otero/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 8 North Carolina (East Region)

    Details: Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET (CBS) Fort Worth, Texas

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Both fouls committed and bench minutes played will be in short supply when the reigning national champions take on the Tar Heels.

    Baylor Wins If: It takes advantage of a bad perimeter defense. North Carolina forces turnovers at the lowest rate among teams who made the NCAA tournament. It also allows opponents to shoot nearly 35 percent from three-point range. And that’s not a great combination to take into battle against Baylor, which had 11 threes and 10 turnovers in the opening-round win over Norfolk State. If James Akinjo isn’t bothered and if Adam Flagler and/or Matthew Mayer are able to get into a rhythm, the Bears should advance.

    North Carolina Wins If: Armando Bacot dominates Flo Thamba. This is where Baylor’s lack of frontcourt depth would become a concern. If Thamba gets into foul trouble or is simply unable to hold his own against Bacot (and Brady Manek), that is a major problem that the Tar Heels could exploit. Granted, if both teams’ winning conditions come true, Baylor should still have a slight edge, considering threes are worth more than twos. But if Bacot goes for 20 points and 20 rebounds, it wouldn’t be the first time such a line spurred UNC to victory.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: North Carolina +190 moneyline. In both 2017 and 2019, reigning national champion Villanova lost in the second round. In 2018, so did the Tar Heels in their attempt to repeat. And after needing to wait two years to defend its 2019 crown, Virginia lost in the first round last year. For some reason, getting to the Sweet 16 in the first tournament after winning it all has been a real struggle, and this matchup is even enough that we may as well try to profit off that trend.



    David Kenyon: Baylor

    Kerry Miller: North Carolina

    Joel Reuter: North Carolina

2 of 16

    Kansas' Ochai Agbaji

    Kansas’ Ochai AgbajiCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Creighton (Midwest Region)

    Details: Saturday at 2:40 p.m. ET (CBS) Fort Worth, Texas

    One-Sentence Synopsis: This second-round matchup is for the birds, with the heavily favored Jayhawks taking on the short-handed Bluejays.

    Kansas Wins If: It dominates the perimeter game. On average, Creighton commits 3.4 more turnovers than it forces. The Bluejays also shoot just 30.3 percent from three-point range. They have done a mostly fine job of defending the three, although they did allow Colorado State to shoot 20-of-34 on one particularly bad day. The Kansas guards should easily outplay the Creighton guards. Moreover, David McCormack should feast in the paint, because…

    Creighton Wins If: Less is somehow more. The Bluejays were already playing without star point guard Ryan Nembhard, who suffered a season-ending injury in February. They also lost big man Ryan Kalkbrenner to a knee injury in overtime against San Diego State in the first round, and he is unlikely to play in this game. Now down to just six guys who scored more than seven points this season, can they somehow band together even tighter to pull off what would be a substantial upset?

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Kansas -10.5. A double-digit spread might seem like a lot, but these No. 1 vs. No. 8/9 games get a little out of hand more often than not. Dating back to 2010, there have been 25 1/8 matchups and 18* 1/9 games, resulting in 24 wins (55.8 percent) by double digits by the No. 1 seed. And the underdog usually isn’t battling a roster shortage as significant as the one Creighton is.

    *excluding the 2013 Final Four game between No. 1 Louisville and No. 9 Wichita State



    David Kenyon: Kansas

    Kerry Miller: Kansas

    Joel Reuter: Kansas

3 of 16

    Tennessee's Kennedy Chandler

    Tennessee’s Kennedy ChandlerChris O’Meara/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 11 Michigan (South Region)

    Details: Saturday at 5:15 p.m. ET (CBS) Indianapolis

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Not only was Tennessee under-seeded by the selection committee, but now the Volunteers also have to face a No. 11 seed that has beaten six tournament teams in the past six weeks.

    Tennessee Wins If: Michigan’s yearlong yo-yoing continues. The Wolverines have not won two consecutive games since early February, and they have not won two consecutive games against top-50 opponents at any juncture of this season. So, after beating Colorado State on Thursday, that means a loss to Tennessee on Saturday, right? If the Volunteers defend at anything close to their usual level of excellence, yes. Because if Michigan point guard DeVante’ Jones (concussion) misses another game or is playing at less than 100 percent, Zakai Zeigler and Kennedy Chandler are going to throw a turnover-forcing party.

    Michigan Wins If: Hunter Dickinson puts on a frontcourt clinic at the expense of John Fulkerson. “Fulky” was awesome in Tennessee’s December win over Arizona (24 points and 10 rebounds). He also went for 14 points and eight boards in the February win over Kentucky. But he can be hit-or-miss, and a common thread through most of Tennessee’s losses was a poor showing from the big man. If Dickinson (and Moussa Diabate) own this game down low, this preseason favorite turned sleeper candidate could continue into the Sweet 16.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Under 136. Tennessee shot lights-out against Longwood, but the Volunteers aren’t typically that prolific on offense. They’re more about defense, so the under feels like a good play here against a Michigan team that neither shoots all that well from distance nor makes many trips to the free-throw line.



    David Kenyon: Tennessee

    Kerry Miller: Tennessee

    Joel Reuter: Tennessee

4 of 16

    Providence's Justin Minaya (15) and Noah Horchler (14)

    Providence’s Justin Minaya (15) and Noah Horchler (14)Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

    Matchup: No. 4 Providence vs. No. 12 Richmond (Midwest Region)

    Details: Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET (TNT) Buffalo

    One-Sentence Synopsis: There might not be a single NBA scout in the house for this showdown between state capitals, but it could be the most entertaining game of the day.

    Providence Wins If: It owns the glass. Richmond is not a good rebounding team, and Iowa didn’t do anywhere near enough to capitalize on that. But Providence has four solid rebounders, the best of which is backup big man Ed Croswell. He had nine rebounds and four steals in just 15 minutes off the bench against South Dakota State, and he could be a major difference-maker in this matchup.

    Richmond Wins If: Jacob Gilyard keeps cooking with gas. The Spiders’ super senior didn’t have any takeaways in the opening win over Iowa, but he did score at least 24 points for the third time in four games. And it has been more than three years since college basketball’s career leader in steals went multiple games without a takeaway, so we’ll just have to see how many he can rack up against a Providence offense that is OK-but-not-elite at avoiding giveaways.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Providence -150 moneyline. A game between two veteran, hard-nosed teams, neither of which shoots all that well? I’ll be darned if this isn’t the exact game for which Providence has been training all season. I wouldn’t touch the three-point spread with a 10-foot pole, but the Friars will find a way to win, per usual.



    David Kenyon: Richmond

    Kerry Miller: Providence

    Joel Reuter: Richmond

5 of 16

    UCLA's Tyger Campbell (10) and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24)

    UCLA’s Tyger Campbell (10) and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24)Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s (East Region)

    Details: Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET (TBS) Portland, Oregon

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Two of KenPom.com‘s top 15 teams square off for a spot in the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.

    UCLA Wins If: 2021 NCAA tournament Johnny Juzang shows up. Saint Mary’s leads the nation in defensive assist rate and does an excellent job of denying three-point looks. But if Juzang can get back to hitting mid-range jumpers off the dribble like he did last year, that’s an area where this Gaels defense can be exploited. He had just nine points against Akron, though, and hasn’t scored 20 in a game since early February.

    Saint Mary’s Wins If: It can fluster the Bruins like Akron did. UCLA was all out of sorts for most of Thursday night’s nail-biter, forcing up bad looks at low-percentage shots and often getting outworked on the glass. And, suffice it to say, Saint Mary’s is much better on defense and much better at rebounding than Akron is, so the Gaels could win this one in convincing fashion if UCLA looks anything like it did against the Zips.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Saint Mary’s +2.5. I like the Gaels to win this game, but it’s probably best to play it safer with the points instead of the +130 moneyline. I also sprinkled a little action on “Yes OT” at +1000. Might as well take some of the money from hitting that Thursday bet on the Murray State-San Francisco OT and go for another home run swing here.



    David Kenyon: Saint Mary’s

    Kerry Miller: Saint Mary’s

    Joel Reuter: UCLA

6 of 16

    Murray State's KJ Williams

    Murray State’s KJ WilliamsDarron Cummings/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s (East Region)

    Details: Saturday at 7:45 p.m. ET (CBS) Indianapolis

    One-Sentence Synopsis: The Cinderella story of the first round of the tournament now goes up against a Murray State team that could be the Cinderella story of the Final Four. 

    Murray State Wins If: Saint Peter’s shooting percentages return to normal. In 30 pre-tournament games, the Peacocks shot 43.1 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from three-point range and 68.3 percent from the free-throw line, so going for 50.9, 52.9 and 85.7, respectively, in upsetting Kentucky was a significant surprise. And with the exception of failing to extinguish walking flame Jamaree Bouyea on Thursday night, Murray State’s defense has been well above-average all season.

    Saint Peter’s Wins If: Its physical play bothers Murray State as much as it bothered Kentucky. Save for Oscar Tshiebwe, none of the Wildcats were able to get into any sort of offensive rhythm against the Peacocks. Saint Peter’s also finished just minus-one in rebound margin against what was the best rebounding team in the nation. This team is going to battle. And if the Racers shoot free throws (69.4 percent on the season) as poorly as Kentucky did (23-of-35), there will be another upset brewing.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Over 130. Don’t love this pick because of the Saint Peter’s shooting percentages mentioned above, but these teams combined for 177 points on Thursday, and most Murray State games have eclipsed 130 with room to spare.  



    David Kenyon: Murray State

    Kerry Miller: Murray State

    Joel Reuter: Murray State

7 of 16

    Arkansas' JD Notae

    Arkansas’ JD NotaeFrank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 12 New Mexico State (West Region)

    Details: Saturday at 8:40 p.m. ET (TNT) Buffalo, New York 

    One-Sentence Synopsis: The Muss Bus seeks to eliminate another Cinderella candidate in the opening weekend of the tournament.

    Arkansas Wins If: The turnover battle goes according to plan. On the season, Arkansas has a turnover margin of plus-79, while New Mexico State is sitting at minus-65. NMSU held up decently (minus-three) in that department in its first-round upset of Connecticut, but the Huskies are nowhere near the turnover-forcing problem that the Razorbacks are. Arkansas could wind up with at least 20 fast-break points in a game with a dozen steals. 

    New Mexico State Wins If: It continues shooting nearly 65 percent from three-point range. Teddy Allen was phenomenal against Connecticut, but the Aggies as a whole were red-hot from distance, shooting 11-of-17. And let’s just say that shooting the lights out is a great formula for success. Since 2011, there have now been 13 cases of a team shooting at least 62 percent from downtown, and those 13 teams are 12-1 with an averaging scoring margin of 13.3 points. Making a lot of triples sure would help make up for what should be a considerable turnover margin.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Arkansas -6.5. If at first you don’t succeed, pick the Razorbacks to cover again. They were five-point favorites in the opener against Vermont and only won by four, but this feels like an even bigger mismatch in favor of the Hogs.



    David Kenyon: Arkansas

    Kerry Miller: Arkansas

    Joel Reuter: Arkansas

8 of 16

    Gonzaga's Drew Timme

    Gonzaga’s Drew TimmeCraig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Memphis (West Region)

    Details: Saturday at 9:40 p.m. ET (TBS) Portland, Oregon

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Memphis has hit its stride since the beginning of February, but can the Tigers avoid their turnover woes long enough to knock off the favorite to win the national championship? 

    Gonzaga Wins If: The interior defense holds up. Memphis is not much of a three-point shooting team, but the Tigers do fare quite well in the paint. The good news in Spokane is that Gonzaga leads the nation in two-point field-goal defense, as Chet Holmgren is one of the best rim protectors. If he and Drew Timme and Co. are able to hold both Jalen Duren and DeAndre Williams in check, it’s hard to imagine Memphis doing enough to keep pace and pull off the upset.

    Memphis Wins If: Depth becomes a pivotal factor. Gonzaga does have a strong eight-man rotation, but with Emoni Bates back in the fray, head coach Penny Hardaway could go at least 12 deep in a pinch. So if this becomes a whistle fest with both starting frontcourts battling foul trouble, that is a massive advantage for the Tigers. And Memphis is no stranger to games with a ton of fouls.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Over 154.5. It’s the highest total of the day, but both of these teams love to push the pace and score in transition. Maybe the mutual shot-blocking prowess will keep scoring from getting out of control, but each of these teams played a game against Alabama in December in which the total reached 170. This feels like a 90-80 type of affair.



    David Kenyon: Gonzaga

    Kerry Miller: Gonzaga

    Joel Reuter: Gonzaga

9 of 16

    Illinois' Kofi Cockburn

    Illinois’ Kofi CockburnGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 5 Houston (South Region)

    Details: Sunday at 12:10 p.m. ET (CBS) Pittsburgh

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Predictive metrics darling takes on a Big Ten regular-season champion licking its wounds from an opener that epitomized the “Survive and Advance” mantra of March.

    Illinois Wins If: It bounces back in a big way from a rough shooting night against Chattanooga. Alfonso Plummer hit a few big shots, but he was the only one. The Illini shot an uncharacteristic 3-of-17 from three-point range against the Mocs, and they would likely get smashed by Houston if that happens again on Sunday. But if Trent Frazier and Jacob Grandison step up for a team that averages better than nine triples per game, well, the deep ball is the best way to get off a less contested shot against the Cougars.

    Houston Wins If: Blocks and turnovers are a key factor. Both of these teams are well above-average in terms of defensive efficiency, but Houston has the much more proactive defense, averaging a combined 13.4 blocks and steals compared to Illinois’ mark of 8.2. Moreover, the Illini offense commits more turnovers and has more shots blocked, so the Cougars should hold the edge in those types of momentum-shifting plays. How many such plays there are could determine the outcome.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Illinois +170 moneyline. If this was Houston +170, that would’ve been the recommendation here, because this game is a great big coin flip as far as I’m concerned. With any luck, that way-too-close-for-comfort game against Chattanooga will be the spark the Illini need to knock off a very good Houston team.



    David Kenyon: Houston

    Kerry Miller: Illinois

    Joel Reuter: Illinois

10 of 16

    Villanova's Collin Gillespie

    Villanova’s Collin GillespieFrank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 7 Ohio State (South Region)

    Details: Sunday at 2:40 p.m. ET (CBS) Pittsburgh

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Three hours from Columbus and five hours from Philadelphia, PPG Arena will be chock-full of fans for both sides of what should be an offensive showcase.

    Villanova Wins If: It neutralizes Ohio State’s perimeter attack. The Wildcats should be able to score on the Buckeyes and almost certainly won’t commit many turnovers in this one, but can they do enough on defense to avoid getting bounced prematurely? The Buckeyes don’t have a guy like Collin Gillespie with nearly 100 threes made this season, but they do have seven guys who have made at least 15. And that ‘Nova defense allows a lot of three-point attempts.

    Ohio State Wins If: Villanova shoots it like Loyola University Chicago did. The Ramblers entered that first-round game as one of the most efficient shooting teams in the country. But against Ohio State’s usually-nothing-special defense, they could not buy a bucket from anywhere on the floor. If the Buckeyes work that magic again, they’ll pull off the upset. But Villanova shot 13-of-28 from downtown against Delaware, so that might be a pipe dream.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Villanova -4. Over their respective last 12 games, Villanova is 11-1, while Ohio State is 6-6. The announcing crew spent a lot of Friday’s game talking about Ohio State playing 12 games in 30 days and not being fully healthy for most of it, but the Buckeyes still had some embarrassing losses during that stretch and did not look good on offense against the Ramblers. Villanova should roll. 



    David Kenyon: Villanova

    Kerry Miller: Villanova

    Joel Reuter: Villanova

11 of 16

    Duke's Trevor Keels

    Duke’s Trevor KeelsJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 Michigan State (West Region)

    Details: Sunday at 5:15 p.m. ET (CBS) Greenville, South Carolina

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell tour will feature one more showdown with Tom Izzo, against whom Coach K is 4-2 in the NCAA tournament.

    Duke Wins If: Star power reigns supreme. I hate when people want to talk about draft stock during the NCAA tournament, but it bears mentioning that Duke has two surefire lottery picks in Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin, three other likely first-round picks in Mark Williams, Wendell Moore Jr. and Trevor Keels, and the Spartans have one maybe first-rounder in Max Christiewho has scored in double figures just three times in his last 15 games. There’s no question that Duke has more talent, which should mean a Blue Devils W. But, of course, it doesn’t always work out that way.

    Michigan State Wins If: It has its best offensive performance in months. Michigan State hasn’t scored more than 77 points in a game since January, and whether the Spartans will even get to 70 has been a coin flip for about seven weeks now. And one of those offensive performances isn’t going to cut it against a Duke team averaging 80.0 points over its last 12 contests. But Sparty does have plenty of capable shooters. Just got to get three or four of them into a decent rhythm in the same game for a change.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Michigan State +6.5. Are there people who seriously believe this game isn’t going to be decided in the final 10 seconds? Duke will win in dramatic fashion, and everyone will spend the next few days starting to more seriously consider the possibility of Coach K riding off into the sunset with his sixth national championship. But Michigan State will cover.



    David Kenyon: Duke

    Kerry Miller: Duke

    Joel Reuter: Duke

12 of 16

    Wisconsin's Johnny Davis

    Wisconsin’s Johnny DavisJeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Iowa State (Midwest Region)

    Details: Sunday at 6:10 p.m. ET (TNT) Milwaukee

    One-Sentence Synopsis: The breakout star of the 2021-22 season (Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis) squares off with the breakout team of the 2021-22 season (Iowa State).

    Wisconsin Wins If: It keeps giveaways to a minimum, which it usually does. Iowa State is great at forcing turnovers, as exhibited by the 15 steals that led directly to 15 points in Friday’s win over LSU. But Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in turnover percentage on offense and has allowed at least eight steals in a game only twice this season and once in the past four months. Limit those run-outs and there’s a good chance you hold Iowa State to 50 points or fewer.

    Iowa State Wins If: Friday’s performance was Tyrese Hunter taking the proverbial next step. Iowa State’s freshman point guard had a great debut year in Ames, averaging roughly 11 points, five assists and two steals per game despite lacking a three-point stroke that needs to be respected. That changed in the first round when he canned seven of 11 three-point attempts against LSU. If that version shows up against Wisconsin, we’re going to end up with at least one double-digit seed in the Sweet 16.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Under 129. Iowa State needed 15 steals and a freshman having by far the best shooting display of his career just to score 59 points against LSU. And Wisconsin had one of the worst effective field-goal percentages among the 68 teams that made the dance. There are going to be a bunch of fun, aesthetically pleasing games in the second round, but this isn’t one of them. First to 50 wins.



    David Kenyon: Wisconsin

    Kerry Miller: Wisconsin

    Joel Reuter: Wisconsin

13 of 16

    Texas Tech's Davion Warren

    Texas Tech’s Davion WarrenDenis Poroy/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Notre Dame (West Region)

    Details: Sunday at 7:10 p.m. ET (TBS) San Diego

    One-Sentence Synopsis: After Rutgers and Alabama both failed, Texas Tech tries its (very good defensive) hand at eliminating the last at-large team selected to the field.

    Texas Tech Wins If: It dominates down low on offense. Texas Tech’s defense is elite and has held its last nine opponents to 57.6 points per game. Given Notre Dame’s lack of offensive rebounds and trips to the free-throw line, you got to assume that trend will continue. But will the Red Raiders score 58? If they pound the paint and take advantage of a Fighting Irish defense with basically no rim protection, they should.

    Notre Dame Wins If: Cormac Ryan continues raining threes. Even before lighting up Alabama for seven triples and 29 points on Friday, Ryan had scored at least 15 in three straight games, emerging as a go-to scoring option very late in the season. And if there’s one area in which Texas Tech’s defense might be exploitable, it’s along the perimeter, where the Red Raiders allow about 25 three-point attempts per game.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Notre Dame +280 moneyline. One of those situations where I’m not even sure I can see an upset happening, but the moneyline is too good to pass up. Plus, Notre Dame is on one of those 2016 Syracuse “we didn’t deserve to get into the tournament, but we’re going to make the Final Four anyway” types of runs.



    David Kenyon: Texas Tech

    Kerry Miller: Texas Tech

    Joel Reuter: Texas Tech

14 of 16

    Auburn's Walker Kessler

    Auburn’s Walker KesslerEakin Howard/Getty Images

    Matchup: No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 10 Miami (Midwest Region)

    Details: Sunday at 7:45 p.m. ET (truTV) Greenville

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Auburn’s duo of star big men take on a Miami defense hoping to steal a huge win.

    Auburn Wins If: It dominates rebound margin and holds its own in the turnover battle. USC did the former against Miami (plus-12) but very much did not do that latter (minus-15) and ended up on the wrong end of a nail-biter because of it. But Auburn was plus-19 in turnover margin in its final four games heading into the dance and has done a fine job in the steals department all season long. The Tigers should be able to neutralize what is usually Miami’s biggest strength.

    Miami Wins If: “Can’t Play Away From Home” Auburn shows up. There’s no question that the Tigers have been the better team this season and that it should cause major problems on defense for an undersized Miami squad. But that was also true of Auburn when it lost to Florida and Texas A&M and when it barely survived at Mississippi State, Georgia and Missouri. After a tense first 15 minutes, the Tigers flexed their muscles in a 19-point rout of Jacksonville State. But who knows which version will show up on Sunday?

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Under 144.5. Auburn’s defense always travels, but it’s the offense that has gone missing in the flat performances over the past two months. And it’s not like Miami plays at a breakneck pace.



    David Kenyon: Auburn

    Kerry Miller: Auburn

    Joel Reuter: Auburn

15 of 16

    Purdue's Zach Edey

    Purdue’s Zach EdeyBen Solomon/Getty Images

    Matchup: No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 6 Texas (East Region)

    Details: Sunday at 8:40 p.m. ET (TNT) Milwaukee

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Purdue lost to Chris Beard in 2016 (Arkansas-Little Rock) and 2018 (Texas Tech), but maybe head coach Matt Painter can finally beat his March nemesis.

    Purdue Wins If: The center tandem puts the team on its back. Texas hasn’t started a player taller than 6’7″ since losing Tre Mitchell to a personal leave of absence in mid-February, and now it only has one rotational player left (6’9″ Dylan Disu) taller than 6’7″. Meanwhile, Purdue’s starting center, Zach Edey, is 7’4″ and should have a field day in the paintlike when Gonzaga’s Drew Timme ate the Longhorns alive for 37 points back in November. The Boilermakers also have 6’10” Trevion Williams and 6’10” Caleb Furst to utilize that size advantage.

    Texas Wins If: Defense wins championships. As has been noted on many occasions over the past few months, Purdue’s defense is not great. And while its offense boasts super efficient year-to-date marks, it hasn’t been the same unstoppable force over the past few weeks that it was in November and December. Texas, on the other hand, has an excellent defense that just stifled a Virginia Tech offense which had been hotter than the sun in the ACC tournament. If the Longhorns can bottle up Jaden Ivey and Co., they could pull off the mild upset.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Texas +4. As noted above, Beard has had Purdue’s number, and it’s not like the whole “dominant center who is 7’0″ or taller” thing is a new phenomenon for the Boilermakers. I think Texas will find a way to win this game, and I definitely don’t see Purdue running away with a blowout.



    David Kenyon: Purdue

    Kerry Miller: Texas

    Joel Reuter: Purdue

16 of 16

    Arizona's Bennedict Mathurin

    Arizona’s Bennedict MathurinDenis Poroy/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 9 TCU (South Region)

    Details: Sunday at 9:40 p.m. ET (TBS) San Diego

    One-Sentence Synopsis: Arizona and TCU square off in a matchup between offenses hoping to play at drastically different tempos.

    Arizona Wins If: It simply overpowers a bad offense. All due respect to TCU, which had some great wins late in the season over Texas Tech, Kansas and Texas, but this offense is not built to keep pace in a shootout. The Horned Frogs entered Friday ranked well outside the top 300 nationally in three-point percentage, free-throw percentage and offensive turnover percentage. The last time they scored more than 77 points in a game was on Dec. 21. There’s no way that should be enough against this Arizona scoring machine.

    TCU Wins If: It mucks up the game until there’s no rhythm whatsoever. The best way to slow down Arizona is to literally slow down Arizona. And few teams in the country are better than TCU at drawing out long offensive possessions with rebounds and shots late in the shot clock. There’s still the matter of actually scoring against a very good, very tall Wildcats defense, but TCU is way more likely to win a game in the high 60s than a game in the low-to-mid 80s.

    If I Had to Bet on Something…: Arizona -9.5. There’s always at least one game on the second day of the second round that gets out of hand in a hurry, and this sure looks like the most obvious candidate. The Wildcats will get pushed to the limit in the Sweet 16 by either Houston or Illinois, but they shouldn’t have much trouble getting there, even if Kerr Kriisa (ankle) is still out.



    David Kenyon: Arizona

    Kerry Miller: Arizona

    Joel Reuter: Arizona


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