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College Basketball Picks: Top Seeds Go South
The Madness Is Real
When it comes to March Madness, they are breaking the mold this year in the South Region. A 16 seed had never toppled a one seed until UMBC buried Virginia by a 20-point margin.
That should have opened the door for No. 2 Cincinnati, but the Bearcats were swallowed up by the Nevada Wolfpack. Third-seeded Tennessee fell victim to No. 11 Loyola Chicago, and fourth-seeded Arizona was overrun by the Buffalo Bulls. Suddenly. No. 5 Kentucky, a traditional power, finds itself in familiar fettle as the best team left standing in the South.
The West was won in eerily similar fashion. Top-seeded Xavier and No. 2 North Carolina made like Rodney Dangerfield and went back to school, leaving the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines and No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs in the driver's seat.
Everyone loves a Cinderella story, so should we expect the madness continue this week? Will the giant killers continue to tower over the chalk? Are more favorites going to be toppled in the Sweet Sixteen? Let's look at that, based on the odds provided by Bovada.
(11) Loyola Chicago (+110) vs. (7) Nevada (-130) Spread: -1.5 Over: 143
The Ramblers have Sister Jean, the 98-year-old nun who serves as team chaplain, but the Wolfpack has twins on their side, not to mention a comeback from a 22-point deficit against the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation to oust Cincinnati. Loyola Chicago squeaked past Miami and Tennessee by a combined three points, but their luck, and their magical run, ends here against the balanced Wolfpack, led by the Martins, Caleb and Cody, and Jordan Caroline, three of four Nevada players who score more than 13 points per game.
(9) Kansas State (+235) vs. (5) Kentucky (-275) Spread: -6 Over: 138
The Wildcats were the sleeper pick in the South at the Tournament's outset, and now, they are the chosen ones. When they sat 17-9, there was no guarantee Kentucky would even be here, but they roll into this game winners of nine of their last 10 and of five straight tourney games. Kentucky goes seven deep in freshmen contributors, led by F Kevin Knox (15.6 points). The Kansas State version of the Wildcats went 3-9 against top 50 RPI teams this season. But leading scorer Dean Wade (foot) should be back for this game.
(9) Florida State (+205) vs. (4) Gonzaga (-245) Spread: -5.5 Under: 154
The Seminoles utilized an 18-4 run to finish the game and finish off top-seeded Xavier. They wore down the Muskateers with their depth, using 11 players and getting 45 points from off the bench. The Seminoles have size and were 16th in the nation in blocks (5.2). But the Bulldogs got rid of their first-round jitters, putting 84 points up on Ohio State in the second round, led by a career-high 28 points from freshman guard Zack Norvell Jr. Gonzaga can score inside and outside and will have too many weapons for Florida State to stop.
(7) Texas A&M (+130) vs. (3) Michigan (-150) Spread: -3. Under: 134
In the Sweet Sixteen for the second straight year and fourth time in six tournaments thanks to Jordan Poole's buzzer beater against Houston, the Wolverines are dominant when the other team has the ball. KenPom lists the Michigan defense No. 3 in the nation in adjusted efficiency. The Aggies played out of their minds in upsetting North Carolina, hitting 10 three pointers while shooting 51.7 percent from the floor. They limited North Carolina's offense to 26 of 78 from the field. That usually doesn't happen two games in a row.
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