The madness has been off the charts and the Sweet 16 is set to kick off. Here are the best bets for Thursday night's action on the court!
Villanova -5 vs Michigan (-110)
Yes, Hunter Dickinson is the biggest guy on the floor and his signature baby hook will essentially lock him in for a 20+ point game, but where the Wildcats lack defensive size, they make up for it with elite guard play, athletic bigs (while undersized), and efficiency metrics that are some of the best in the nation.
Everything Michigan can do, Nova can do better, and knowing Jay Wright, he’ll have bigs forced into high ball screens that’ll create fits for Juwan Howard’s squad. I like the Wildcats to lay the five against the Wolverines.
Villanova is one of the most hyper efficient teams in NCAA history. They are set to break the single season record for free throw percentage, and frontman Collin Gillespie is turning the ball over at a ~ historically low ~ rate in tournament play. He’s logged 206 minutes with just six turnovers. That’s a turnover every 34.3 minutes
Duke ML vs Texas Tech (-102)
Texas Tech rolls out a top 7 of all upperclassmen while Duke is basically running freshman and sophomores across the court.
Tech features an elite defense while Duke has an elite offense with scorers all over the place.
Tech has Kelvin Sampson, who is no stranger to the big stage while Duke has Coach K, nuff said. All this to say: this game is so close, and the line at +/- 1 dictates that.
There isn’t much more analysis here, and while I like Tech in the game, it’s Coach K’s swan song season. As we’ve seen so far, porous refereeing has been abundant so far and there is really only one way I see the loose whistle going…
Houston ML vs Arizona (+105)
When TCU played Arizona, the Horned Frogs won the offensive glass battle 20-14 earning a ton of second chance points. Have we finally found a weakness to Arizona? YES. If not for a career day from Mathius and Koloko, Arizona wouldn’t even be here.
In steps Houston, a team that has zero weak points defensively and boasts one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the nation.
The Cougars will dictate pace in the game, force turnovers, and put Arizona in situations they won’t want to be in. The catch will be having to defend a starting core of 4 guys over 6’5, and a guard in Kerr Kriisa who’s lights out from deep (he went 1-10 against TCU, that won’t happen again).
Simply put the key for the Cougs is the offensive glass, throw pressure on the bigs, and keep Kriisa off balance. A tall task, but not for Houston. Just like Duke v Tech, the line is +/- 1, and I’d rather jump off a bridge than see this game end 65-64. I’ll take Houston outright.
Gonzaga (-9.5) vs Arkansas (-110)
Traditionally I’d never lay the points on a team as big a favorite as Gonzaga is - plus the last time I picked the Zags to cover by 10+, they lost to St. Mary’s.
The Razorbacks come into this one having yet to cover in the tournament (little side thought there) and the Zags offense has been put through the ringer so far against Georgia State & Memphis, but are Battle tested and ready to go nuclear.
Gonzaga has a clear advantage in the mid-range and the perimeter, and even if the Hogs can stop freshman sensation Chet Holmgren, they’ll have to lock down Drew Timme who’s logged 57 points and 27 boards in the tournament. For Arkansas to win, JD Notae has to stay out of foul trouble (he’s logged 9 personals in two games), knock down threes, and stifle Holmgren while limiting Timme.
Despite having a top 15 defense per KenPom, the Razorbacks simply need to do too much in order to win, therefore I like the Zags here, but I won’t be putting a bet on the game.