With games on Thursday and Friday the field has been whittled down to final sixteen teams that are competing for this year’s championship.
Here’s a look at some of the key games for Thursday and Friday’s action, and their respective betting lines at Bet365
#3 Oregon Ducks vs #7 Michigan Wolverines
In a very intriguing Thursday matchup we see two teams that have taken different paths to reach the sweet sixteen. On one hand you have #3 Oregon, their 31-5 record, and led by star Canadian born forward Dillon Brooks who is a sure fire first round pick in the NBA draft. However the Ducks were lucky to survive a scare last round against a #11 Rhode Island team that led practically the entire game until late in the second half, and ultimately lost 75-72.
The Wolverines are a team that looks destined to continue its pursuit of a second title, the first of which was captured in 1989. Michigan upended a very potent Oklahoma State team in the opening round by the slimmest of margins 92-91, then disposed of a very good #2 Louisville team 73-69 last round. Thanks in large part to two very impressive victories the blue and yellow of Michigan find themselves as the posted favourites against higher seeded Oregon as the Bet365 spread is set at minus 1 point.
This game could honestly go either way depending on how Oregon bounces back from their near colossal upset last game, and whether or not Michigan’s defense can contain the high flying Ducks. This game is so tight to handicap that overtime may be a possibility.
Prediction: Michigan wins a close one.
#4 Florida Gators vs #8 Wisconsin Badgers
One of the hottest teams in the NCAA Men’s tournament in recent years is none other than the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers (27-9) are the only team to have reached the sweet sixteen the last four years and have amassed the most victories over that same stretch.
Clearly Friday night’s game between Florida and Wisconsin is expected to be a low scoring affair given both teams’ propensity to play a defense first style of ball. Wisconson own the 11th best scoring defense in the country while Florida isn’t too far behind. Bet365 who have the Gators as an even two point favourites are expecting a low scoring affair as the over under for Friday night is set at just 131.0 points. Badgers’ point guard Bronson Koenig is the player to watch for in this one as the fourth year guard is having a strong year with 14.5 points per game and is almost automatic from the charity stripe shooting with a near 91% rate.
Prediction: Wisconsin pulls out a second half comeback win.
#11 Xavier Musketeers vs #2 Arizona Wildcats
The largest spread of the eight games over the next two days can be found in the Arizona vs Xavier game on Thursday night as the second seed Arizona Wildcats are 7.5 point favourites over Xavier, who’s eleventh ranked status has them as the lowest remaining seed by far.
Xavier have had a difficult path to the third round as first and second round upsets against #6 Maryland and #3 Florida State were no flukes. Junior guard Trevon Bluiett has been the best player for Xavier all season long, however he’s risen to heights much beyond his 18.5 ppg clip of the regular season. Bluiett has been a next level dominance in the team’s first two victories of the year as he’s averaged 25.0 ppg in the first two rounds against some very stiff competition. Arizona have had a relatively easy path thus far as victories over #15 North Dakota and #7 St Mary’s both failed to truly put up a fight against this Wildcats team that finished 32-4 in the regular season.
Much like Xavier, Arizona’s star guard Allonzo Trier is the centerpiece of the Wildcat offensive attack. The sophomore Trier is averaging a team best 17.1 points per game while shooting 46.6% from the field and an impressive 40.3 %from distance.
Prediction: Arizona stops the unlikely Musketeer run in a close game.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the next couple of weeks play out in this tournament as the fact remains that the first team to win four straight games will claim one of the most prestigious championships in Collegiate sports.