We are nearing the end of March Madness as this will be the last full weekend before the Final Four is set where we still have two futures alive in which we are hoping to cash one or at least hedge in opportunities when possible. One number 1 team has already gone down, will more follow suit?
March 23, 2022 7:27pm CST
(1)Gonzaga -9.5 vs. (4)Arkansas | O/U 155
Very interesting game here as you either can expect a big bounce back from Gonzaga and prove that the last performance was just a blip on the radar and they are the real deal, or does this team fail to reach expectations again as they do every year? We saw that when facing a physical team like Memphis, Gonzaga finally struggled and found themselves in a hole before they dug their way out late. One thing that really killed this Gonzaga team and may cost them either in this round or in the later rounds is their free throw shooting. They converted a lousy 54% going 13/24 from the line which if that type of shooting continues, they will be in for a long night when facing teams that can really pour it on offensively. Well, Arkansas may not be that team, however, defensively they are going to give them even more of a problem than Memphis did as this Razorbacks team ranks 35th defensively and held Western Athletic winners New Mexico State to 48 points by forcing 12 steals and 17 turnovers. This Arkansas team will also push the pace when given the opportunity off of turnovers as they had 15 fast break points against the Aggies, and allowed 0 fast break points. The Razorbacks will get back on defense and not allow Gonzaga to push too often which they love to do. Look for Arkansas to keep it close like Memphis did and hopefully win outright.
Pick - Arkansas +9.5 (-108) via Heritage
(2)Villanova -5 vs. (11)Michigan | O/U 135.5
One of the cinderella teams we get is this Michigan team whos been counted out since near the end of the regular season when they lost head coach Juwan Howard to suspension over the last 5 games of the season. This Michigan team has incredible size which has given teams issues and will continue to do so until they face an opponent who can match their size. They have won games by controlling the boards and operating a more efficient offense as of late as they have shot over 50% from the field so far this tournament. If they are able to keep up this offense which they should since they were able to knock off one of the toughest defenses in Tennessee, then they should have a chance to win this game against Villanova. Ohio State has nowhere near the size of Michigan and were still able to control the boards as the Wildcats got outrebounded 33 - 26 against this undersized team. Brooks has stepped up for Michigan and he is expected to continue to do so against the 113th ranked defense just like he did against the 9th ranked defense. Too many points here as we get into the later rounds and expect tighter games.
Pick - Michigan +5 (-108) via Heritage
(3)Texas Tech -1 vs. (2)Duke | O/U 137
Probably one of the most anticipated matchups to watch during the Sweet Sixteen as this is Coach K's final run for a national championship in hopes of winning and riding off into the sunset. This is most likely the toughest defense that Duke will face all year and may not be prepared. Duke has their star player Banchero, but that's about it, while Texas Tech has an incredible over all team that can defend at any position. The Red Raiders are going to force the ball out of Banchero's hand and not allow him to penetrate like he usually does with ease, nor allow for any second chance points as they rebound very well. Texas Tech is going to force other players on Duke to step up which I do not believe they will be up for that task. Offensively, however, Texas Tech will struggle to knock down the three just like they did last game against a tough defense and will operate in the half court looking to get guys open with screens and ball movement. It is a known fact that defense travels which we have seen so far and expect to continue here.
Texas Tech -1 (-108) via Heritage
(1)Arizona -1.5 vs. (5)Houston | O/U 145.5
This will actually be the most exciting matchup of the night as one of the top favorites to win the tournament will face its biggest test as they escaped an OT win against TCU. Arizona will now face the 3rd ranked defense in the nation as they are going to have a difficult time operating their offense since this will be the hardest opponent they've got in a long time. You can start to notice a trend with these picks here which is defense travels and it is more sensible to trust a solid defense forcing turnovers and creating fast break opportunities rather than trust a fast past offense where they may find some struggles on defense. This Arizona team however is also ranked very high defensively as they rank 18th in the nation in defensive rating so this game is really a toss up and is expected to come down to the last possession. Two factors will effect that outcome which is the offensive rebounding on missed shots, in which Houston ranks 3rd in the nation here, and free throw shooting, in which Arizona converts 73.9% while Houston is at 66.7%. Mathurin will have to take over in order for Arizona to win and will be forced to take contested jumpers which he does not do too often as he typically gets open fairly easily. I like the Cougar's defense to shut them down and end up with the upset.
Pick - Houston +1.5 (-108) via Heritage