We are down to 16! We saw our fair share of madness during the first two rounds, as we have 5 teams in the Sweet 16 seeded as an 8 or higher. We have some interesting matchups and potential Cinderella’s here in the Sweet 16, so we have a lot to look forward to before we get down to the Final Four!
- BAYLOR BEARS (24-2)
- VILLANOVA WILDCATS (18-6)
Baylor -7.5 / 141.5
Maybe it is willful ignorance, but I refuse to believe that the loss of Senior PG Collin Gillespie will not come back to sting Villanova. As it turns out, the Wildcats have stung me in the first two rounds. However, they are about to take on a completely different animal in Baylor. Villanova’s two wins came against Winthrop and North Texas. They are about to face a completely different class of team. I think Nova keeps it close early, but the Bears will pull away down the stretch.
Picks: Baylor -7.5 / Under 141.5
- ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (24-6)
- ORAL ROBERTS GOLDEN EAGLES (18-10)*
Arkansas -11.5 / 159
Do we have a Cinderella story brewing here? My guess would be no. But that is why they are Cinderella stories; nobody expects them to go far. A double-digit spread in the Sweet 16 is tough to judge. Arkansas is clearly a far superior team, but Oral Roberts has some mojo going. I am going to back the Hogs and their high-flying offense and hope that the long layoff has cooled off the Golden Eagles.
Picks: Arkansas -11.5 / Under 159.5
- HOUSTON COUGARS (26-3)*
- SYRACUSE ORANGE (18-9)
Houston -6.5 / 140.5
Beware of the Orange in March. Syracuse seemingly always contributes to the Madness as their 2-3 zone gives their opponents fits. Between the Orange’s zone defense and the Cougars allowing only 58.3 points per game, I expect offense will be tough to come by, which makes me like Jim Boeheim’s squad getting spotted 6.5 points.
Picks: Syracuse +6.5 / Under 140.5
- LOYOLA-CHICAGO RAMBLERS (26-4)*
- OREGON STATE BEAVERS (19-12)*
Loyola-Chicago -7 / 125
This is an intriguing matchup. Both teams come in playing extremely hot and with supreme confidence. Oregon State would not be in this tournament if they did not run through the PAC-12 tournament and secure an automatic bid – yet here they are in the Sweet 16. Loyola was thought to be a very good team in the regular season, but they may have been underestimated. They just played a 1-seed in Illinois, who was also one of the hottest teams in the country, and they bounced them, winning by double-digits, and giving up only 58 points in the process. They have been the only 1-seed eliminated thus far. I like the Ramblers in this one. They are the more complete team and shot better from the field than Oregon State in the first two games.
Picks: Loyola-Chicago -7 / Over 125
- GONZAGA BULLDOGS (28-0)*
- CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS (22-8)
Gonzaga -13 / 158
Gonzaga has to find themselves in a close game eventually, right? Creighton could be the team to finally get the Bulldogs into a dog fight. They score 76.3 points per game, led by dynamic G Marcus Zegarowski. They shoot well and take care of the ball. I cannot say with much confidence that they will be in a position to win down the stretch, but they should keep it within the spread.
Picks: Creighton +13 / Over 158
- USC TROJANS (24-7)
- OREGON DUCKS (21-6)
USC -2 / 137.5
Here we have a battle between two familiar foes, in this all PAC-12 Sweet 16 matchup. The Trojans and Ducks were scheduled to meet twice this year, but only played one game due to Covid. The Trojans won that contest 72-58. That was back in February and the Ducks have only 1 loss since then, however. It is much harder to beat a team the 2nd time around, and given the Ducks improvement since then, I am going to back Dana Altman’s squad.
Picks: Oregon +2 / Over 137.5
- MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (22-4)
- FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (18-6)
Michigan -2.5 / 143.5
I think this is where the absence of Isaiah Livers bites the Wolverines. They are about to face an extremely long, athletic, and physical Florida State group, who also has the depth advantage. Throw in FSU’s ability to knock down shots from downtown, and the loss of Livers’ 13 points per game could put the Wolverines in a spot where they have difficulty keeping up.
Picks: Florida State +2.5 / Under 143.5
- ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (26-6)*
- UCLA BRUINS (20-9)
Alabama -6.5 / 145.5
The Bruins had to play in the First Four to earn a spot in the Round of 64. Now they find themselves in the Sweet 16. This will be their toughest test by far, as they take on the 2-seeded Crimson Tide. Mick Cronin has UCLA on the right path to get back to being an elite team on the national level, but they may have to wait just a little bit longer, as this well-balanced Alabama team should prove to be a little too much to handle.
Picks: Alabama -6.5 / Over 145.5