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2015 March Madness Sweet 16 Picks, Odds, and Predictions

2015 March Madness Sweet 16 Picks, Odds, and Predictions

March Madness lived up to its billing this week as a slew of upsets rained down in the opening two rounds of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The craziness started on Thursday when No. 3 teams Iowa State and Baylor suffered shock defeats to the UAB Blazers and Georgia State Panthers, respectively, in the round of 64.

No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 teams Virginia and Kansas were shown the exit door shortly thereafter, absorbing stunning losses in the third round this past weekend. It has been a wild ride so far and the good news for us all is that we are just getting started.

The madness starts once again this coming Thursday with the NCAA Regional Semifinals. Read on below as we break down and dissect all eight Sweet Sixteen games. While you’re at it, you can also check out the experts’ picks for those particular matchups.

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2015 March Madness Complete Sweet 16 Picks and Predictions

Midwest Region

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 5 West Virginia

Line: Kentucky Wildcats vs. West Virginia Mountaineers – view all March Madness lines

Can anyone beat Kentucky? The Wildcats’ bid for a perfect season is still very much alive after trouncing their opponents in the opening two rounds of the national tournament. Kentucky brushed aside No. 16 Hampton, 79-56, in the second round before defeating the eighth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats in the round of 32, 64-51.

[sc:NCAAB240banner ]That victory extended Kentucky’s unbeaten run to 36 games. That is now the longest win streak to begin a season in Division I history. Even though Kentucky stormed to its sixth-straight double-digit win Sunday against Cincinnati, it wasn’t entirely plain sailing for the Wildcats. They shot just 37 percent against the Bearcats and were outrebounded 45-38.

That will give the Wildcats something to think about heading into their Sweet 16 clash with No. 5 West Virginia. The Mountaineers lead the nation in offensive rebounds, averaging 16.8 boards per game. The Mountaineers are still alive in the Big Dance following their upset win over fourth-seeded Maryland Sunday night.

Defense played a key role in their third-round victory as they forced the Terps to commit a whopping 23 turnovers. It’s the 16th time this season that West Virginia has forced at least 20 turnovers in a game against a Division I opponent. If they can apply that same kind of ball pressure against the Wildcats and disrupt Kentucky’s highly-efficient offense (119.0 points per 100 possessions, 6th in the nation), who knows? A shock result might be in the offing.

You can read a complete preview of the game here.

Writer’s Prediction: Kentucky extends its winning streak to 37 games with a 71-56 victory.

No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Wichita State

Line: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+1) vs. Wichita State Shockers (-1) – view all March Madness lines

Third-seeded Notre Dame barged into the Sweet 16 of the 2015 NCAA Tournament with a nerve-wracking 67-64 overtime win over No. 6 Butler. It’s the first time since 2003 that the Fighting Irish have managed to reach this stage of the competition.

With that being said, it hasn’t been the easiest of tournaments for Notre Dame, beating its first two opponents by an average of just 3.5 points. They are still in the hunt for the title, though, thanks in large part to their inside-out duo of Zach Auguste and Jerian Grant. Auguste has been a beast down low for Notre Dame, averaging 16 points and 9.0 rebounds while Grant has proven to be their main backcourt weapon, averaging 16.5 points and 5.0 assists in their opening two games.

They will have a battle in their hands in the next round, however, as standing in their way in the Sweet 16 are the upset-hungry Wichita State Shockers. The Shockers stunned No. 2 Kansas, 78-65, in the round of 32, to record their first win against the Jayhawks in more than 28 years.

All five starters scored in double-figures for the Shockers as they advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons. Fred Van Vleet has been the star of the tournament so far for Wichita State, averaging 22 points, four rebounds and five assists in the Shockers’ opening two games.

Check out our in-depth preview for this game here.

Writer’s Prediction: Notre Dame’s perimeter game kicks into high gear as the Fighting Irish record an 80-71 win.

West Region

No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 North Carolina

Line: Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels – view all March Madness lines

The Wisconsin Badgers earned their fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the last five years with a tough 72-65 win over No. 8 Oregon Sunday night. To no one’s surprise, it was Wisconsin’s vaunted frontcourt trio of Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes who did the most damage, combining for 49 points on 16-of-34 shooting from the field.

They will have their work cut out for them, however, in the next round as they’ll face No. 4 seed North Carolina next. The Tar Heels advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in three years with an 87-78 victory over Arkansas. The Tar Heels outscored the Razorbacks by 16 points inside the paint with 20 of their 27 made field goals coming inside the shaded area.

You can check out our preview for this game here.

Writer’s Prediction:  Frank Kaminsky inspires the Badgers to a 71-67 win.

No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 6 Xavier

Line: Arizona Wildcats (-10.5) vs. Xavier Musketeers (+10.5); total: 136.0 – view all March Madness lines

Arizona sealed its third straight Sweet 16 appearance with a comprehensive 73-58 victory over Ohio State in the round of 32 Saturday. Gabe York and T.J. McConnell led the way for the Wildcats, scoring 19 points apiece. What spelled the difference for Arizona in this game, however, was its excellent defense against D’Angelo Russell.

After exploding for 28 points against VCU in the opening round, the talented freshman was held by Arizona to just nine points on an atrocious 3-of-19 shooting from the field. It will be a different challenge for the Wildcats’ D, though, in the next round, as they’ll face a Xavier team that likes to pound the ball inside.

Matt Stainbrook has been superb for the Musketeers in this tournament, averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in their opening two games thus far. The Musketeers were sizzling against Georgia State in the third round, hitting 23 of their 34 field goals to become the first team to shoot over 66 percent in an NCAA tournament game since North Carolina in 2008.

If they can sustain that hot shooting form against Arizona this coming Thursday, another upset might be in the cards once again.

You can read an in-depth breakdown of this game here.

Writer’s Prediction: Arizona’s depth will be too much for Xavier as the Wildcats cruise to a 70-55 win.

March Madness is finally here! Create a betting account now and cash in on all the Sweet 16 games.

East Region

No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Michigan State

Line: Oklahoma Sooners (+2.5) vs. Michigan State Spartans (-2.5) – view all March Madness lines

Michigan State definitely has Virginia’s number. For the second year running, the Spartans ousted the second-seeded Cavaliers in the round of 32, hacking out a 60-54 upset win Sunday. Travis Trice scored 23 points, including a key 13-point explosion near the start of the game that provided the impetus for Michigan State’s shock victory.

The Spartans’ defense also did a masterful job, holding Virginia to just 29.8 percent shooting from the field. The Cavaliers particularly struggled with their outside shot, going just 2 of 17 (11.8%) from beyond the arc. The Spartans need to unleash that kind of perimeter defense once again, if they are to record another upset this time against the Oklahoma Sooners.

The Sooners survived a stubborn Dayton side, pulling off a tough 72-66 victory in the round of 32. Oklahoma was red-hot from the outside, going 9 of 18 from beyond the arc, including hitting seven of its first nine. Buddy Hield led the way for the Sooners in this game, putting up 15 points, three rebounds and five assists. The Sooners will need another big game from their leading scorer if they are to book a place in the Elite Eight.

Click here for a deeper breakdown of this Sweet 16 game.

Writer’s Prediction: Michigan State’s magical ride continues with a 57-52 win.

No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 North Carolina State

Line: Louisville Cardinals vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack – view all March Madness lines

Millions of brackets were wrecked on Saturday night as the North Carolina State Wolfpack pulled off the upset of the tournament thus far with a thrilling 71-68 win over top-seeded Villanova in the round of 32. A total of four players scored in double-figures for the Wolfpack who entered the game as massive 10-point underdogs.

The Wolfpack will need that same balanced offensive attack if they are to grab another upset in the Sweet 16. It definitely won’t be easy, though, as lying in wait in the next round are the defensive-minded Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals booked their fourth consecutive trip to the round of 16 with an emphatic 66-53 win over the Northern Iowa Panthers.

The Cardinals have the fifth-best adjusted defensive efficiency in Division I, per Kenpom.com, allowing just 89.6 points per 100 possessions this season. Louisville has brought that defensive intensity to the tournament, allowing an average of just 54 points in their opening two games.

Expected to lead Louisville’s charge are Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell. They lead the team in scoring this season, averaging 17.0 PPG and 15.5 PPG respectively. They combined for 39 points on 13-of-24 shooting in the Cardinals’ third round win over the Panthers.

Want to know more about this game? Click here for our complete preview.

Writer’s Prediction: Louisville ends NC State’s dream run with a 62-58 victory.

South Region

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 5 Utah

Line: Duke Blue Devils (-5) vs. Utah Utes (+5) – view all March Madness lines

The Duke Blue Devils sealed their 22nd Sweet 16 appearance under head coach Mike Krzyzewski with an emphatic 68-49 victory over the San Diego Aztecs Sunday. Jahlil Okafor scored 18 of his 26 points in a dominating first half to help Duke forge a round of 16 showdown with the fifth-seeded Utah Utes.

Okafor has been simply sensational for the Blue Devils this season, averaging a team-best 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He has carried that form in the national tournament with the freshman averaging 23.5 points on a sizzling 21 of 27 shooting from the field.

Fortunately for the Utes, they have the size to deal with a behemoth like Okafor. Jakob Poetl has been superb for Utah in this tournament thus far, averaging 15 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. He held Georgetown’s Josh Smith to just eight points and six rebounds despite being 115 pounds lighter than the Hoyas center.

If he can limit Okafor’s production in their Sweet 16 matchup as well, the Utes can find themselves in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1998.

You can read a complete preview of this game here.

Writer’s Prediction: Okafor powers Duke to an 81-74 win.

No. 2 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 UCLA

Line: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. UCLA Bruins – view all March Madness lines

Wouldn’t you know it? The UCLA Bruins are still alive. Against all odds, Steve Alford’s men have advanced to the Sweet 16 following tournament wins over SMU and UAB. Luck has definitely been on the side of the Bruins in this tourney thus far. First off, the Bruins got that fortuitous goaltending call in their round of 64 win over the Mustangs. Then, they avoided the Big 12 champions Iowa State in the very next round, following the Cyclones’ shock defeat to the UAB Blazers in the second round.

The Bruins took advantage of this grand opportunity, thrashing the Blazers in the round of 32, 92-75. Tony Parker led five Bruins in double-figures with a career-high 28 points and 12 rebounds as UCLA advanced to its second successive Sweet 16. They will look to stretch their fairy tale run even further when they take on No. 2 Gonzaga this coming Friday.

The Bulldogs are back in the regional semifinals for the first time in six years after blowing past Iowa in the round of 32, 87-68. The Bulldogs have been scorching on the offensive end in this tournament so far, averaging a whopping 86.5 points in their opening two games.

Click here for more information regarding this matchup.

Writer’s Prediction: Gonzaga returns to the Elite Eight for the first time in 16 years with an 80-73 victory over the UCLA Bruins.

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Joel
Written by Joel

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