We are back to break down the Sweet 16 slate. Aaron took care of you guys yesterday with a 2-0 day. We are looking to do the same. The picks have been extremely hot all year - article picks on the season are 20-9 (69%). Aaron and I have dominated since the start of champ week, going a combined 31-10 during that stretch. That’s a 75 percent winning percentage folks. That's a pretty good return on free picks if you ask me.
As far as free college basketball betting advice, there aren’t many people doing it better. We will give an extensive breakdown with picks for every single game on the slate. We only have two more weeks of college basketball left so we have to enjoy them.
West Region: No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 1 Gonzaga
Spread: Gonzaga (-13.5)
Gonzaga gets its first major test in a couple months in this one. But is Creighton really a test here? The Bluejays are the fifth seeded team in the West. They are coming off a one point escape win against UC Santa Barbara and they beat No. 13 seed Ohio by 14 points. The Jays are essentially the Midwest version of BYU. They have a ton of talented guards and they can shoot the lights out of the basketball. However, they have major deficiencies defending the rim and they struggle rebounding the basketball.
The one thing about Greg McDermott's teams, they allow the opposing teams to dictate the pace of play. Creighton plays at an average pace at the 143rd best in the country. Their offense will get sped up by the Zags, who love to run. Creighton has a below average rating in transition defense, but they thrive in the transition on offense. Gonzaga will be able to attack downhill and they will have a major advantage inside with big man Drew Timme, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Creighton tries to beat Gonzaga in a track meet. They have the shooters to do it. As we saw against BYU, Gonzaga will allow you to shoot threes early in the shot clock, and I think McDermott will watch that film and they will have a similar game plan. Creighton won’t hesitate to take those shots, they rank 41st in offensive tempo nationally. Both teams rank top 25 in effective field goal percentage, two point field goal percentage, and offensive efficiency.
While the spread here is a little too high for my taste, I do like playing the oven with two potent offenses.
The pick: Over 158.5
East Region: No. 4 Florida State vs No. 1 Michigan
Spread: Michigan (-2)
This East Region matchup is the only quadrant of the entire tournament that went chalk, leading to a great Sweet Sixteen matchup between Florida State and Michigan.
But I do think this is a bad matchup for Michigan without Isaiah Livers.
The Seminoles are great at every facet of the game. with the exception of turning over the ball. However the Wolverines rank 337th in the country in defensive turnover percentage. Florida State is long and athletic. They do a great job at getting to the rim. Michigan will need to get elite play out of their guards Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown to play well. Michigan needed every one of Brown’s 21 points to get past LSU. FSU’s length and athleticism is going to give them trouble. The Seminoles also have a 7’1 center Balsa Koprivica who can at least make Hunter Dickinson uncomfortable. Isaiah Livers out of the Michigan lineup shrinks the space Dickinson can work with.
The Seminoles have the better overall talent and I love the Noles to win this one outright.
The pick: Florida State ML +120
East Region: No. 11 UCLA vs No. 2 Alabama
Spread: Alabama -6.5
We got a matchup between the new school and old school styles. Nate Oats has fully embraced the fast pace run and gun, three or lay-up style of play. The Tide don’t take mid-range jump shots. Those shots are sinful in Nate Oat’s household.
On the other side, Mick Cronin has a slow paced, gritty defensive style. The Bruins rank 337th in adjusted tempo and they take the highest rate of mid-range jump shots. The Bruins have all the ingredients to frustrate Alabama. UCLA has a reliable point guard in Tyger Campbell who doesn’t turn the ball over.
While Bama ranks second in the country in defensive efficiency, their one vulnerability is a spot UCLA can exploit. Nate Oats' teams will give teams mid-range jump shots because it is an extremely inefficient shot. However, UCLA makes those jumpers at an extremely high rate. Both Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jacquez, and Tyger Campbell live in the mid-range area. If UCLA can methodically run their offense in that area, and make those shots they will slow down Alabama’s rhythm.
One concern: There is just so much three point volatility with Alabama. If they make their three’s Alabama can beat anyone in the country. But on the other side of the coin, they can lose to anyone. UCLA will have success on the offensive end and their wings can matchup with Alabama on the defensive end. I love what Mick Cronin has done and I think he constructs a great game plan to limit Alabama here. The Crimson Tide are going to be extremely vulnerable in the first half, and if you like the Tide I recommend waiting for a live opportunity.
With that being said I think UCLA keeps this one close for at least a half.
The pick: UCLA +4 first half
West Region: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 6 USC
Spread: USC (-2)
Can we please get Bill Walton to call this Pac-12 Sweet Sixteen matchup? Let’s give the people what they want here. Regardless of the color analyst, this is the game I am most looking forward to. USC beat Oregon by 14 points earlier this year without Isaiah Mobley in the lineup. In that matchup Tahj Eaddy scored 24 points while shooting 6-11 from three. When USC gets quality production from their guards, they are tough to beat. Oregon isn’t going to be able to outrun USC in transition. Oregon does not have a defensive answer for Evan Mobley down low. The Trojans are going to dominate the rebounding battle in this matchup. Oregon’s key to success is forcing turnovers with the press and they are going to have to shoot 40 percent from three. If USC can take care of the ball against Oregon’s press I think they will move on to the Elite 8.
The pick: USC ML (-130)
Prop lookouts: Isaiah Mobley over rebounds; Johnny Juzang over points; MJ Walker over points; Drew Timme points/rebounds/assists; Christian Bishop over points/rebounds/assists
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