Bully The Bookie - Sweet Sixteen
Round of 64 and 32 Summary:
Compared to previous years, this wasn't the hottest start (for upsets and payouts). Usually a random mid-major school takes down a powerhouse program but unfortunately that wasn't the case this year. Cal Irvine defeating Kansas State was probably the biggest upset we've had, but Cal Irvine was only a 4.5 point underdog (or 3 to 1 to win) at the start of that game. Not a crazy upset. Now there were some serious scares for first seeds -- such as Virginia, the first team to ever lose to a 16 seed last year, was caught down at the half to another 16 seed; Gardner-Webb.
Last year's victorious 16 seed took to twitter to inspire this year's tournament underdogs. However, Uva pulled off a 15 point win but Gardner still had their moment.
This was followed by UCF vs Duke, the most memorable matchup so far. This game was defined by size and headlined by the Tacko Tower (just made that up but you all can use that) vs Zion.
That's the Tacko Tower on his knees -- right beside a fully erect 6-footer who still remains shorter than Tacko.
As for the game, I try and stay away from cliches, but this one went right to the buzzer. UCF had a 74-70 lead when Duke missed a three that led to a fast break for UCF. But since UCF was doing the unthinkable, they got lost in the sauce, attempting an alley-oop instead of the easy lay-up for two. After some baskets were exchanged, Zion took it straight to the rim where he would meet the Tacko Tower for the hoop and the harm. We wanted to see these two physical specimen collide all tournament -- and it couldn't have come at a better time.
With the game sitting at 76-75, you would think Zion (who experts are calling the 2019 first overall pick), would show the world why. NOPE. Instead, Rj Barret shows everyone why they need to stop sleeping on the Canadian and better think twice come this year's draft.
Outside of this game, hoop heads may have struggled to get their fix, but that means something special will happen in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 -- so get your bookie on the line and dive into these picks.
#1 GONZAGA BULLDOGS VS #4 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
Thursday, March 28th, 7:09 EST
PICK: FSU +7.5
Florida St is my pick to reach the final four. They struggled out of the gates in the first round vs Vermont and a 7 point win but they managed to pick up the pace against Ja Morant and his Murray St Racers. Florida St won by 22 and dominated this game on both ends, with their height and depth on full display. Florida St is the tallest team in the country aka Gonzaga’s primary big and Vancouver native, Brandon Clarke, doesn’t scare me as much. I am not doubting his individual performance after he just tied the March Madness single-game point record, but he won't be able to do it alone. FLORIDA STATE 76-72
#2 TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS vs #3 PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
Thursday, March 28th, 7:29 EST
PICK: TENN -1
First and foremost, I see Tennessee as a top 5 team. Outside of Duke, UNC and Kentucky, I can't see them losing. Purdue may have defeated the defending champs by 25, but Tennessee just had a serious wake up call after blowing a 25 point lead in their last half. The Volunteers will have their foot on the gas early and this time, they won’t let up. TENNESSEE 75-68
#2 MICHIGAN WOLVERINES vs #3 TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
Thursday, March 28th, 9:39 EST
PICKS: TEXAS TECH +2 and UNDER 126
Two of the top three defensive teams in the country: Michigan 2, Texas Tech 3. Michigan and Texas Tech both average under 60 points against and that's going to happen this game. I love the under here. Texas Tech may be a toss up but Michigan made the finals last year and knowing how hard the tournament is to repeat -- I’ll take the points and ride with the Red Raiders. TEXAS TECH 59-57
#1 VIRGINIA CAVALIERS vs #12 OREGON DUCKS
Thursday, March 28th, 9:59 EST
PICK: UNDER 119
As previously mentioned, Virginia has the best D (and it’s not even close) by allowing 55 points per game. Oregon is another strong defensive team, allowing 62.5 points per game this year. But let’s look at Oregon’s last 10 to show how their defense has really skyrocketed. Over their last 10 games, they’re 10-0 while allowing 54.2 points per game. There will be no easy buckets in this one. VIRGINIA 57-51
#2 MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS vs #3 LSU TIGERS
Friday, March 29th, 7:09 EST
PICK: UNDER 149
The total is blatantly too high for a Michigan State game. It’s their highest total in the last 17 games and it’s strictly because of their opponent LSU. The Tigers are expected to shoot a ton of threes or use size to grip offensive boards for paint points. But LSU has been playing under ball lately too. They gone under in 5 of their last 7. Don’t overthink it. Take the under. MICHIGAN ST 70-64
#1 NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS vs #5 AURURN TIGERS
Friday, March 29th, 7:29 EST
PICKS: UNC -5 AND OVER 163
If you can only watch one Sweet Sixteen game, this is the one. Two athletic, high-flying, good shooting teams will meet in Kansas City. The Tar Heels and Tigers play an identical game, but no one does it better than UNC. The Tar Heels averaged almost 86 points per game this year with the fastest pace of play. Meanwhile, Auburn scored nearly 80 per game to go with a top 20 pace of play. A few steps behind the Tar Heels. This will be fun and it’ll be close until the last 5 minutes.
#1 DUKE BLUE DEVILS vs #4 VIRGINIA TECH
Friday, March 29th, 9:39 EST
PICK: Duke -7.5
I like everything about this pick. Easy read, Duke is evidently the better team. The Blue Devils surpassed their scare last game and that bodes well for teams that advance. ESPECIALLY against a team they’ve seen before. Va Tech, led by Canadian Nickeil Alexander-Walker, is going to come into this game with a lot of confidence. Primarily because Va Tech is on the short list of teams to beat Duke this year. BUT they beat Duke on their home court and it was when Zion Williamson wasn’t playing. With Zion back, fresh off their upset scare, I’ll take Duke to win this one by 20.
#2 KENTUCKY WILDCATS vs #3 HOUSTON COUGARS
Friday, March 29th, 9:59 EST
PICK: HOUSTON +3
In the round of 32, Kentucky couldn’t score 62 against a mid major and that's pitiful. All in all, Kentucky isn't the same college basketball juggernaut they have been in recent years. Houston will play the D they’re capable of and if Kentucky has similar offensive struggles as Saturday (which they will), the Cougars will win.