When you like drawing with chalk and hate the film “Cinderella,” you in all probability liked how the 2019 NCAA Tournament has performed out thus far. Or one thing like that.
All however two of the highest 4 seeds in every area made the Candy 16 and each No. 1, 2 and three seed continues to be afloat, making for the chalkiest of chalk tournaments since 2008. There’s a authentic likelihood that, like 11 years in the past, all 4 No. 1 seeds make the Closing 4.
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Whereas first- and second-round upsets are thrilling and sudden, in the end a area made up of one of the best groups — as is the case this yr — will present extra entertaining, evenly-matched video games within the Candy 16 and past.
That is more durable from a playing perspective, nevertheless. The Candy 16 does not embody a slam-dunk 1 vs. 16 or 2 vs. 15 matchup the place it is easy to see the favourite cowl. It is of a better significance to look deeper into the matchups earlier than taking your choose towards the unfold. We had you coated for first spherical picks towards the unfold, and five of the eight were correct. Let’s give this one other shot for the Candy 16.
No. 1 Virginia (-8.5) vs. No. 12 Oregon
This is not an indictment of the Cavaliers, however reasonably one other warning to disregard the seeding when deciding whether or not to guess on the Geese. They’ve been scorching, and if Kemba Walker and the Connecticut Huskies taught us something in 2011, it is that being scorching can matter within the match.
Now, that is not a prediction that the Geese will go all the best way, however the workforce they have been at first of the season is not the one they’re now. They’ve received their two NCAA Event video games by a mean of 18.5 factors, and their protection — which has been a large a part of their 10-game profitable streak — seems to be nearly as good as ever.
Whereas Virginia, with its elite protection and all, continues to be able to pulling out a win, it isn’t going to be a cakewalk and it might be a stretch to have it as the largest favourite of any Candy 16 workforce. Oregon level guard Payton Pritchard is taking part in at a excessive degree, with a mean of 18.5 factors and seven.5 rebounds in his two match video games, whereas Kenny Wooten — who has four-plus blocks in every of his final 4 video games — is a defensive power not like anybody else within the match.
Be happy to guess on Virginia if you happen to’re taking the cash line, however do not depend on them to cowl. This one ought to be a defensive dogfight.
No. 1 Gonzaga (-7.5) vs. No. four Florida State
Prediction: Florida State
This can be the riskiest choose of the 4, as a result of the Bulldogs might come out and throttle the Seminoles and it would not be that stunning. The Seminoles are powerful, although. They most not too long ago proved that on Saturday towards Murray State, profitable by 22 factors despite Ja Morant doing, properly, Ja Morant issues. They’ve the deepest roster within the match with 11 gamers averaging a minimum of 10 minutes per recreation and make do and not using a famous person. Whereas Florida State is not one among KenPom’s most effective offensive or defensive groups left within the match, it has 5 wins over fellow Candy 16 groups and is not prone to be intimidated towards Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs in all probability will not get the identical Herculean effort from Brandon Clarke (36 factors, eight rebounds, 5 blocks) as they did within the second spherical, and are among the many worst defensive groups remaining within the match.
Like with Oregon, do not essentially take Florida State on the cash line right here, however Leonard Hamilton’s groups are normally a troublesome out within the match, so this one might go all the way down to the wire.
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No. 2 Michigan (-2) vs. No. Three Texas Tech
Prediction: Texas Tech
Followers of protection will not wish to miss this recreation. It is a battle of KenPom’s two finest. Conversely, neither offense is even within the prime 10 amongst Candy 16 groups. These components have the entire makings of an in depth recreation and a possible immediate basic. Neither workforce has had a lot bother towards their two match opponents, with all 4 mixed wins between the 2 coming by double digits.
Though protection can be on the forefront, this recreation might come down to 1 participant: Jarrett Culver. Merely put, Texas Tech has Culver and Michigan doesn’t. The Wolverines’ largest problem all season has been their capacity to persistently rating, and so they haven’t got a go-to scorer they will at all times depend on on the finish of video games.
The Crimson Raiders do. Culver is particular, like NBA lottery choose particular, and is one of the best participant on the ground on this recreation. He’s averaging 18.Eight factors, 6.5 rebounds and three.Eight assists per recreation and has scored 45 factors in two match contests. Culver generally is a difference-maker down the stretch, so the Crimson Raiders cowl. Barely.
No. 2 Michigan State (-6) vs. No. Three LSU
Prediction: Michigan State will cowl
There is just one workforce exterior the ACC that’s among the many prime 10 most effective offensive and defensive groups within the nation: the Spartans. They’ve overcome accidents to not miss a beat, and disposed of Minnesota within the second spherical regardless of Cassius Winston’s lowest scoring output in over virtually three weeks. LSU has appeared something however sharp in its two match wins and wanted a game-winning layup by Tremont Waters to flee Maryland on Saturday.
The Tigers, who will as soon as once more be coached by assistant Tony Benford, are the worst defensive workforce left within the match and had a ranking under the likes of Wichita State, Lipscomb and South Florida, which have been all within the NIT or worse. Match that up towards the fourth most effective offensive workforce within the nation that has additionally received seven straight video games, and also you’re higher off selecting the Spartans to cowl.
No. 1 North Carolina (-5) vs. No. 5 Auburn
Prediction: North Carolina will cowl
Auburn is a feast or famine offense, and thus far it has feasted like a dinner at Fogo de Chao. The Tigers are 25 of 61 from 3-point vary and their 120.four AdjO this season suggests they rating extra than the standard No. 5 seed. But the Tigers have been practically upset by New Mexico State within the first spherical and their in-season inconsistency makes it a attain to assume they will sustain the scoring tempo. There’s yet another drawback right here: Auburn is taking part in a workforce that may rating with them.
North Carolina has scorers aplenty. Cam Johnson is capturing 51 % from the sphere and 46 % from 3. Coby White is averaging 19 factors in his final eight video games. Luke Maye often scores in double figures. Nassir Little averages 10 factors per recreation off the bench. Significantly, there’s a cause the Tar Heels have been third within the nation in factors per recreation. If each offenses are at their finest, this is likely to be first to 200 factors, however North Carolina’s group is extra constant and greater than able to protecting.
(All spreads by way of VegasInsider)