We are getting closer to the conclusion of the 2019 March Madness, but there’s still a long way to go before we get there. This week is going to be all about the remaining 16 teams all vying for a spot in the Elite 8 round. All No. 1 seeds are still alive, but are we going to see at least one of them fall? Will a low-seed shock the field? Read on for an overview of each of the games in the Sweet 16 round.
Predictions, picks, odds and betting preview for the NCAA March Madness Sweet 16 Round on March 28-29 2019
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech
Line: Virginia Tech Hokies (+7) vs Duke Blue Devils (-7) – view all March Madness lines
The Blue Devils are lucky to have gotten out of the second round. They barely survived a gritty UCF Knights unit last Sunday for an incredibly slim 77-76 win. It’s not the type of victory one would expect of Duke, which had regularly taken opposing teams to the woodshed. But Tacko Fall and Aubrey Dawkins proved to be more than just cardboard cutouts for Zion Williamson and company. While it took Duke some resiliency to take down UCF, the victory did not impress everybody. Some of which might have qualms about Duke’s legitimacy, especially heading into a rematch with a team that defeated them in conference play. The Hokies trounced Duke at home back in February 77-72, but here’s the disclaimer: Duke didn’t have Williamson back in that game due to an injury. And then here’s Virginia Tech’s counter-disclaimer: it didn’t have Justin Robinson too in that game due to an injury. Both players will play this Thursday.
Writer’s Prediction: Duke wins, 79-72
No. 3 LSU Tigers vs. No. 2 Michigan State Spartans
Line: LSU Tigers (+6) vs. Michigan State Spartans (-6) – view all March Madness lines
The Tigers were not supposed to reach this far. At least that’s what many thought when news broke out that Will Wade will be suspended indefinitely just prior to March Madness. Well, Tremont Waters and company are set to play this week against the well-rounded Spartans, who have been coasting thus far in the tournament. Michigan State beat the Bradley Braves in the first round (76-65) before crushing the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the second round (70-50). Waters played the hero in LSU’s last game in which he made a clutch basket to break a tie and seal the 69-67 win over the Maryland Terrapins. The Tigers have talent up and down the roster, and their defense can distraught opponents, but their ugly 3-point shooting and apparent disadvantage on the glass could cause them to fall prey to Michigan State.
Writer’s Prediction: Michigan State, 80-74.
No. 4 Florida State Seminoles vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs
Line: Florida State Seminoles (+7) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (-7) – view all March Madness lines
The Seminoles and the Bulldogs meet in the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. Last year, it was Florida State that topped the matchup, but Gonzaga looked a lot stronger, beefier, and more experienced this time around. Last year, the Bulldogs didn’t have Brandon Clarke, who was serving a redshirt season after transferring from San Jose State. Why mention Clarke? Well, it’s because he’s a monster Florida State hasn’t had the experience of facing first hand. While the focus on Gonzaga is mostly on Rui Hachimura, Clarke deserved just as much attention for his play of late. In Gonzaga’s 83-71 win over the Baylor Bears in the second round, Clarke stuffed the stat sheets and traumatized the opposing team with an insane performance, posting 36 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and five blocks in 36 minutes. As for Florida State, it will look to counter with its deep rotation that the Seminoles banked on in beating Ja Morant and the Murray State Racers in the second round, 90-62.
Writer’s Prediction: Gonzaga wins, 77-72.
No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. No. 2 Michigan Wolverines
Line: Texas Tech Red Raiders (+2) vs. Michigan Wolverines (-2) – view all March Madness lines
Texas Tech arguably has the best offensive and defensive balance among the remaining teams in the tournament. That was on full display during the Red Raiders 78-58 annihilation of the Buffalo Bulls in the second round. Buffalo was among the highest-scoring teams in the nation, with the Bulls putting up over 80 points per game back in the regular season. Holding Buffalo down to a sub-60-point output was quite an accomplishment for Texas Tech, though, it was not entirely surprising, as the Red Raiders ranked third nationally with just 59.2 points allowed per game prior to Championship Week. Speaking of defense, the Wolverines might be better at it than Texas Tech. They were second overall with just 58.2 points surrendered per contest. They haven’t allowed more than 55 points in a game thus far in the Big Dance.
Writer’s Prediction: Texas Tech wins, 63-61.
No. 12 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers
Line: Oregon Ducks (+8.5) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (-8.5) – view all March Madness lines
The Ducks are playing inspired right now, having upset the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round and defeated fellow Cinderella UC Irvine Anteaters in the second round. Oregon beat both teams by an average of 19 points, but it’s about to get incredibly tough for the Ducks in the Sweet 16 where they will share the court with No. 1 seed Virginia. The Cavaliers have recovered their moxie after a shaky win over the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs in the first round, as they sent the Oklahoma Sooners packing in a 63-51 win last Sunday. Starting Mamadi Diakite over Jack Salt in the middle was a decision that paid dividends for the Cavs against Oklahoma, but one thing they will be closely looking at is Kyle Guy’s recovery. Guy who averaged 15.1 points per game in the regular season, is only 4-for-23 from the field thus far in the tournament.
Writer’s Prediction: Virginia wins, 64-55.
No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers
Line: Purdue Boilermakers (+1) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (-1) – view all March Madness lines
It feels as though no one is talking about Purdue enough in March Madness. That’s not consequential to the Boilermakers’ success though, as they continue to wreak havoc in the tournament in large part because of Carsen Edwards. The junior has been out of his mind of late. After scoring 26 points in a first-round 61-48 win over Old Dominion, Edwards went bonkers from deep and dropped 42 points on 9-for-16 3-point shooting in an 87-61 win over the then defending national champions Villanova Wildcats. The Vols, on the other hand, let out a huge sigh of relief after escaping with an 83-77 overtime win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second round despite blowing a 25-point lead. The tandem of SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield will be a problem for Purdue along with point guard Jordan Bone, who will have his hands full in trying to containing Edwards.
Writer’s Prediction: Tennessee wins, 77-74.
No. 5 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels
Line: Auburn Tigers (+4.5) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (-4.5) – view all March Madness lines
After a shaky win over the New Mexico State Aggies (78-77) in the first round, the Tigers picked up steam by demolishing perennial national title contender Kansas Jayhawks, 89-75, in the second round. All you need to know for now about Auburn is that it has a dangerous backcourt duo in Bryce Brown and Jared Harper and that the team has a sticky defense that forces plenty of turnovers. Against the Jayhawks, Brown had 25 points with seven 3-pointers, while Harper had 18 points to go with six assists. They combined for 29 points in the New Mexico State game. The Tigers have also forced the Aggies and the Jayhawks to commit 16 turnovers each. Let’s not also forget that Auburn has been scorching from distance with 24 3-pointer to date in the tournament. Of course, when it comes to firepower, North Carolina has the talent to keep with any team. The Tar Heels have averaged 84.5 points in their last two games. Their rebounding will be key in slowing down Auburn. Back in the regular season, North Carolina was tops overall with 44.3 boards per game.
Writer’s Prediction: Auburn wins, 81-79.
No. 3 Houston Cougars vs. No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats
Line: Houston Cougars (+2.5) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (-2.5) – view all March Madness lines
Houston has going about its business despite minimal fanfare. The Cougars have won their first two assignments in the Big Dance by a total of 44 points against the Georgia State Panthers and the Ohio Stat Buckeyes. Neither opponent shot better than 39 percent from the field, a testament to Houston’s sturdy defense that allowed just 61.0 points per game back in the regular season. Houston could also be getting a big break in the upcoming matchup with Kentucky. The Wildcats are likely to miss the services of star forward P.J. Washington once again. Washington has yet to play in the tournament due to a foot injury, and his absence will make Houston’s job of attacking the basket and getting rebounds a lot easier. Still, the Wildcats have plenty of talents to smother Houston, including the likes of Reid Travis, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson.
Writer’s Prediction: Kentucky wins, 67-64.
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