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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
Sweet 16 Betting Preview
The field of 68 in the NCAA Men’s Tournament has been QUICKLY trimmed to 16 in the last week, and now we’ve got the teams that are really cookin’ with gas that has advanced to week two. It’s one thing to make the bracket, but it’s another to make a run that will last for ages in school history. As always, this March Madness has brought us the little guys like Farleigh Dickinson and Furman, who you had likely never heard of before this past week. Upsets were everywhere on the bracket as Princeton cakewalked to two upsets and an Ivy league Sweet 16 berth, and two of the four one-seeds had already toppled before the second week (Kansas and Purdue).
Week one of the madness brought a litany of storylines and thrilling moments, and now as we look to week two we have to figure out which Cinderella runs are ending and which are just getting going. My highlight was unequivocally my money line bet on Furman and their thrilling three to win it, and my lowlight was how WRONG I was about Zach Edey and the Purdue Boilermakers…just sad. So from here, is there another St. Peters moment coming for the Princeton Tigers? Or is it chalk from here on out, with Texas vs. Houston and UConn vs. UCLA matchups inevitable? Let’s get to the oh-so-sweet matchups set and picks for Thursday and Friday:
#7 Michigan State vs #3 Kansas State – 6:30 pm ET
January, February, Izzo, April. Tom Izzo is back in the sweet 16 and he’s full-on waterworks these days in celebration. Now they head to MSG to play a Wildcats team that had surpassed expectations all season. I’m sticking with experience here and the spread indicates that the matchup favors Sparty tremendously.
Alex’s Play: Michigan State -2
#8 Arkansas vs #4 Uconn – 7:15 pm ET
A matchup of two physically imposing teams, so it’s bound to be a bit bloody at the end of forty minutes. As for the game, I lean with the underdog here out of the SEC, who’s been doing battle in the pain all season and should keep it within a basket. Also, love the Under for the points total hovering around 140.
Alex’s Play: Arkansas + 3.5
#9 Florida Atlantic vs #4 Tennessee – 9 pm ET
The run is over for FAU here. They were lucky to sneak past Memphis in the manner they did and then were handed a 16 seed that they could have easily lost to. The jump to Tennessee is too big for them to handle.
Alex’s Play: Tennessee -5
#3 Gonzaga vs #2 UCLA – 9:45 pm ET
Ah yes, the nostalgia matchup of the week. The older hoops fans will have memories of the mustached, fluffy-haired Adam Morrison delivering one of the great cries in NCAA Tournament history. This time around that ironic figure could be Drew Timme, who’s been scratching at a title for his entire career. I have a feeling that itch persists, as the UCLA frontcourt poses rebounding issues the Zags can’t handle.
Alex’s Play: UCLA ML
#5 San Diego State vs #1 Alabama – 6:30 pm ET
In my eyes, the winner of this game goes to the Final Four. San Diego State does present the type of quick feet defense to slow down Brandon Miller and Alabama’s guards, but not for the whole game. In the end, Bama wins out but not before a scare.
Alex’s Play: SDSU +7.5
#5 Miami vs #1 Houston – 7:15 pm ET
I desperately want to see Texas vs. Houston matchup in the elite, for the right to go to the Final Four in…Houston, Texas. Then, I doubt that the planets will align like that, and I like Texas’ matchup better in the nightcap. I love Miami to spoil the party and I’m feeling some chaos on Friday.
#15 Princeton vs #6 Creighton – 9 pm ET
My original bracket had Creighton in the elite eight, but certainly not in this manner. No one saw #15 seed Princeton is coming, and while I would love to predict a similar run as St. Peters last year, I think it ends here but not without one last fight. The Big East toughness will be on display for the Bluejays, and I also think Creighton can fight fire with fire beyond the arc to keep the Tigers in their cages.
Alex’s Play: Princeton +10
#3 Xavier vs #2 Texas – 9:45 pm ET
I love the Longhorns here as Xavier is coming off a cakewalk win. Always a tricky spot to reboot and be ready for a significantly tougher test in week two. I have a strange feeling about Dylan Disy and this Horns team – the run might just be getting going.
Alex’s Play: Texas -4
May your Sweet 16 be rich with winners!