NCAAB News and Notes Friday 3/27

NCAAB News and Notes Friday 3/27

South Region Preview
by Robert Ferringo

Every year in the NCAA Tournament there is one region that is just absolutely loaded. I'm talking comically loaded. I'm talking six or seven national title contenders crammed into the same region. Well, this year it's the South Region in Memphis.

If there is any doubt about the talent level in this part of the bracket, just check out what would be the All-South Region if you were putting together an all-star team:

Point Guard - Johnny Flynn
Shooting Guard - Marcus Thornton
Small Forward - James Harden
Power Forward - Blake Griffin
Center - Tyler Hansbrough

That's four 1st Team All-American talents and the SEC Player of the Year. And that is also friggin' ridiculous.

Here's one man's look at the South (Memphis) Region:

No. 1 Seed: North Carolina


There's not much I can tell you about the Tar Heels that you don't already know. This team is still the favorite to win it all despite an injured point guard, a poor conference tournament showing, and the fact that they play absolutely no defense. But this group of Tar Heels does have experience. The core of this team - Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ty Lawson - lost in overtime of the Elite Eight in 2007 and in the Final Four to the eventual champions in 2008. This is their last chance to bring home a title, and they'll have to do it out of the most difficult region on the bracket.

No. 2 Seed: Oklahoma


The Sooners spent practically the entire season in the Top 8 in the country and, I believe, are a bit undervalued right now. Yes, they are just 2-4 in their last six games. But two of those losses came without Blake Griffin, one was at Missouri, and then another was a heated Bedlam game in the Big 12 Tournament. However, I don't let that dampen what this team has shown me throughout the season. They are No. 6 in field goal offense and No. 32 in field goal defense and they possess Griffin, the most dominating player in the country. The key, as always, is getting good guard play. I love Willie Warren's game and Tony Crocker is a savvy vet. But the key player is Austin Johnson, who seems injured and has disappeared in the latter part of the season.

No. 3 Seed: Syracuse

If Syracuse is still playing after the first weekend of the tournament then this is a team that could win it all. Syracuse has been sensational over the last several weeks since they have gotten healthy and since Kristof Ongenut has returned to the lineup. They are coming off an emotionally and physically draining run in the Big East Tournament so this team could be primed for a letdown. But after two consecutive snubs by the NCAA Tournament I think this team will want to make a statement and stick around for a while. They have one of the best backcourts in the country and, again, if they can play with the same energy and passion that they exhibited in New York City then this club will be a tough out.

No. 4 Seed: Gonzaga

Gonzaga has been perpetually overrated in the NCAA Tournament in recent seasons. After a Sweet 16 loss in 2006 the Bulldogs have been bounced in back-to-back first round games. It's the last chance for this group of players and they appear motivated to make a final push. The Bulldogs are one of the best offensive teams in the country and their +17 winning margin per game is one of the best in the country. The problem I have with this team is that they are like a mid-major version of Duke: they are incredibly soft in the middle. This team doesn't defend the post and they could have trouble with an athletic and frantic team like Western Kentucky.

No. 5 Seed: Illinois

The Illini are one of the more dangerous team in the entire bracket because they could be poised for a first round flameout or a Sweet 16 run. Bruce Weber's club has been overachievers all season long but they'll be without their starting point guard, senior three-year starter Chet Frazier. Demetri McCamey is one of the more explosive guards in the region and will be looking to bounce back from a poor showing in the Big Ten tournament. This team is a soft, perimeter oriented team and it all comes down to whether or not they are making shots.

Best first-round match up: No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 Butler

Butler has feasted on athletic, but undisciplined teams over the last three years and this game sets up very well for them as an underdog. This is a young Bulldogs team and a club that I didn't expect much from this season. But they are disciplined, play great defense, they execute, and they are dangerous because they live (or die) with the three-point shot. LSU is a team that can do some serious damage if they move deeper into the bracket. They have two exceptional players in SEC Player of the Year Marcus Thornton (20.7 ppg) and forward Tasmin Mitchell (16.3 ppg), and solid guard play to go along with an athletic center, Chris Johnson. However, LSU lost three of its four nonconference games to teams ranked in the Top 50 by double digits. That includes a 10-point home loss to Xavier, and 11-point and 30-point losses at Texas A&M and Utah, respectively.

Best potential second-round match up: No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 6 Arizona State

Perhaps the best point guard in the country (Johnny Flynn) and the best perimeter player in the country (James Harden) could square off in a star-studded second-round game. Both of these teams were snubbed from The Big Dance last year and both are looking for retribution. Syracuse has proven itself against the top teams in the country this year while Arizona State has really been mediocre, at best, over the last two seasons against Top 50 opponents. But this is a good matchup for ASU. They can surround the Syracuse zone with shooters and if their supporting players are knocking down shots they could bury the Orange. But Syracuse's guards should decimate any ASU defense thrown at them and the Orange does have a lot of steam right now.

Upset Alert (first round): No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Stephen F. Austin

This is a prime letdown spot for the Orange after an emotional run in the Big East Tournament. Factor in travel, a noon tip-off, and the natural tendency to look ahead to potential matchups with Arizona State, Oklahoma and North Carolina and I could see a perfect Letdown/Look Ahead situation here. SFA is the No. 1 field goal defense in the country and could slow this game down to a crawl. The boon for Syracuse: SFA is not a good shooting team and they have double-digit losses to Texas Tech and Arkansas this season.

Upset Alert (second round): No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 2 Oklahoma

Clemson is one of the few teams that can actually matchup with the size of Oklahoma. Trevor Booker might be the most underrated forward in the country and it would be a great one-on-one matchup with Griffin. Also, I like Clemson's guards better than OU's backcourt and I think that the running, pressing, trapping style of the Tigers could exploit the Sooners' weakness and help negate Griffin's impact.

Dark Horse team: No. 6 Arizona State

When you have one of the best perimeter players in the field you are going to be dangerous in March. James Harden is unstoppable one-on-one and Jeff Pendergraph gives the Sun Devils a legit post presence to throw the ball into. The Sun Devils have just one win over Top 50 teams over the past two seasons, but their slow pace and quirky offense, coupled with Harden, makes them a very difficult team to prepare for. The key for ASU is knocking down shots. When their supporting players are hitting threes then this offense can be unguardable. This team has shot over 50 percent in its last four games. If they carry that over then this team can be an X-Factor.

Team That Makes Me Nervous: No. 3 Syracuse

A lot of people are really high on this Syracuse team. And as my alma mater I obviously have a personal stake in their success. But I just wonder what that run at Madison Square Garden has taken out of them. After that they would have a tricky matchup with Arizona State and then would likely have to tussle with powerhouses Oklahoma and North Carolina. And that's just to get to the Final Four! Syracuse has the talent to play with anyone in the country. Hand's down. And their guard play is sensational. But sometimes they don't do the little things - not turn the ball over, rebound, making free throws - that cost teams this time of the year.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Friday 3/27

Midwest Regional Preview
by Robert Ferringo

Money, money, money; the remaining four teams in the Midwest have been four of the most successful teams in the country this year against the spread. As a result, it's really tough to find value betting on or against teams that have posted an unbelievable 79-46-2 record ATS this season.

Kansas (20-7-1 ATS)has been the best bet in college basketball this year and they have far exceeded the modest expectations that they came into the season with. The same can be said for Louisville (21-14 ATS), which lost several key pieces from last year's Sweet 16 team, and Arizona (20-13 ATS), which underwent as tumultuous of an offseason as any program in the nation. Michigan State (18-12-1) is perhaps the only club that entered the season with any type of title hopes, and the fact that they have still surpassed their expectations speaks to how well they have played.

But two of these teams have just one game left in their season and another has only two. So clearly the money train is reaching its final stop. Here is a breakdown of the Midwest (Indianapolis) Regional:

Arizona (+9) vs. Louisville (7 p.m., Friday, March 25)

It's tough to play the role of Cinderella when you've played in every NCAA Tournament for about a quarter-century, but that's exactly the spot that the Wildcats find themselves in.

Ironically enough, the last team invited out of the Pac-10 is also the last team standing out of that venerable conference. And this week they are the biggest underdog on the board against the Big East champions. So while they are not the traditional Cinderella I would say that the Wildcats are certainly long shots heading into this weekend.

By now you should know that Arizona has three of the top players left in the tournament in Nic Wise, Chase Buddinger, and Jordan Hill. The last two are NBA talents and Wise is one of the top five point guards in the country. This team is exceptional on offense, averaging about 73 points per game on a blistering 47.7 percent shooting clip from the field and 39.4 percent shooting from three-point land, but they lack depth and they don't defend the basket very well.

A lack of depth is particularly troubling against a Louisville team that comes at you in waves and applies pressure for a full 40 minutes. And that is what makes this about the worst matchup that the Wildcats could have heading into the Sweet 16. The Cardinals have been playing at a very high level for the past month. And even though they barely survived a late run from a spirited Siena squad last week, the Cardinals have had plenty of time to regroup and to focus on stopping Arizona's Big 3.

One disturbing trend for Cardinals backers has to be the fact that Louisville seems to just mail it in for the first half of games. If you look back at their last four outings, they were getting worked over by both Villanova and Syracuse in the first half of the Big East semis and finals, respectively. Then last weekend the Cards were up just two at the break against No. 16 Morehead State and up just seven at the half against No. 9 Siena.

However, Louisville's pressure defense and relentless attack wore down all four opponents and they ended up winning all four of those games by an average of 13 points per. It's nerve-wracking for backers, but it has proven effective.

Can Arizona shoot well enough and can they keep their stars out of foul trouble? I'm not sure that they can. I still think that Louisville is a bit overrated and that they are not a true national title contender. But I'm not sure if Arizona has enough depth to knock off the top seed and I don't know how comfortable I am betting them to "keep it close".

Kansas (+2) vs. Michigan State (9:30 p.m., Friday, March 25)

This game is the only rematch of the Sweet 16, as Michigan State laid a 75-62 beating on the Jayhawks up in East Lansing back in early January. In fact, the game wasn't even that close as the Spartans vaulted out to a commanding 37-18 lead at half time.

However, these are definitely two different teams heading into this matchup and Michigan State won't have the benefit of playing on its home court. In fact, since that game the Jayhawks have been the single best wager in the country, putting together an unbelievable 15-3-1 record against the spread. Kansas is picking up confidence with each game and has only a two-point loss at Missouri and two awkward upsets to Baylor and Texas Tech on its resume since that loss to Sparty.

Despite Kansas' role as cash cow, all of the early money has poured in on Michigan State. This game was released as a 'Pick' but was instantly bet up to Michigan State -2. Obviously there are still a lot of people that think that first meeting was no fluke.

The key matchup in this game is MSU's Kalin Lucas against KU's Sherron Collins. These are two of the top point guards in the country and they are each their team's main offensive weapon. Lucas had a small edge in the first matchup as it took Collins 14 shots to hit 25 points while Lucas managed 22 points in just 11 shots. Also, Lucas had just one turnover and no fouls compared to Collins' eight turnovers and four fouls. If Lucas wins that battle again then I don't think that Collins' mates can pick up the slack.

The second matchup to watch for is the interior strength and power of Michigan State against Cole Aldrich, who is one of the best centers and most successful post men in the country. The Spartans had a lot of trouble with Aldrich in the first meeting, as Michigan State's three top big men (Raymar Morgan, Goran Suton, and Idong Ibok) combined to use up 13 of 15 fouls while totaling just 19 points, on 5-for-16 shooting, and 17 rebounds. Aldrich alone mustered 14 points and 11 rebounds to go with three blocked shots.

Besides the players I've listed, there really aren't any "stars" on either roster. Both teams rely on depth and the play of a host of role players to accomplish a true "team" attack. For Kansas, shooter Brady Morningstar needs to be an effective perimeter option. After that, freshmen Ty Taylor and the Morris twins have to provide quality minutes and need to play well on both sides of the ball.

For Michigan State, I think that Durrell Summers is an X-Factor. And if guys like Summers, Travis Walton, Chris Allen and Marquise Gray are able to build on last year's Sweet 16 experience then I think that the Spartans will take this one down.

This game is the most evenly matched game of the Sweet 16. Both teams have elite point guards and solid, but not spectacular, role players on the perimeter. Both teams crash the boards and rely on powerful post players to control the tempo and defend the basket. Both teams are well coached, have played challenging schedules, and have played great basketball over the last two months. The line reflects the reality: this one can go either way.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Friday 3/27

South Region Semifinals
By Brian Edwards

Of the eight region semifinal games Thursday and Friday, I don’t believe there’s a weak matchup among the bunch. With that said, I think that Memphis is clearly the place to be this weekend.

The South region features a pair of storied programs in North Carolina and Syracuse who both have Hall of Fame coaches hoping to add another ring to their own personal collections this season. In Gonzaga, we have the Rolls Royce of mid-major programs, while Oklahoma is a team with a rising star in the coaching profession and the nation’s premier player in Blake Griffin.

What does all this mean? Well, for starters, it means UNC has the toughest draw of the four No. 1 seeds. It also means fans have a pair of great games to watch Friday night and that gamblers have some extremely tough decisions to make before dropping down a few greenbacks.

Let’s take a closer look at both games that’ll be played at FedEx Forum.

**Syracuse vs. Oklahoma**

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Oklahoma (29-5 straight up, 15-13-1 against the spread) as a one-point favorite with a total of 148. The number on the side hasn’t changed all week, but the total has been heavily adjusted to 153 at most spots.

--Syracuse (28-9 SU, 19-14 ATS) is absolutely on fire with nine wins both SU and ATS in its last 10 games. The only loss came to Louisville in the Big East Tournament finals in a game the ‘Cuse led by eight at intermission. The Orange was also playing its fourth game in four days, while U of L was playing for just the third time in as many days. Most importantly, the Cardinals had not played any overtimes, while Syracuse had gone six OT’s against UConn and one vs. West Virginia in the two preceding days.

--The ‘Cuse advanced with back-to-back spread covers in Miami by taking out Stephen F. Austin (59-44) and Arizona St. (78-67). Eric Devendorf scored a game-high 21 points and Andy Rautins was sensational off the bench with 17 points, five assists and four rebounds.

--Oklahoma came into the NCAAs on a downward spiral, losing four of its previous six games while going an abysmal 1-5 ATS. But with a clean slate, the Sooners got back to business last weekend with wins over Morgan St. and Michigan. The Sooners took the cash in both victories, spanking the Bears 82-54 before breaking away from Michigan late for a 73-63 triumph as 7 ½-point favorites.

--Blake Griffin was the catalyst in both of OU’s wins. He had 28 points and 13 rebounds on 11-of-12 shooting against Morgan St. Then against the Wolverines, Griffin finished with 33 points and 17 boards. How nasty is he? Certainly nasty enough to pull a Danny Manning circa 1988 (or John Wallace circa ’96 or ‘Melo circa ’03) and lead OU to a national title.

--Speaking of such a scenario, bettors can still back either of these squads at super-generous future odds. The ‘Cuse is currently 18/1 and OU is 20/1. Although I’m sticking to my prediction of Pitt cutting the nets down in Detroit, I do think the ‘Cuse-OU winner has a decent chance to win it all and a small taste of a future wager on either team is good by me.

--Jim Boeheim’s squad is in the Big Dance for the 26th time in his 33-year tenure. The Orange has advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. Boeheim is going for his 800th career win in this spot. He has 42 career NCAA Tournament wins, tied for seventh-most with legendary former Louisville coach Denny Crum.

--These schools met in the Elite Eight of the 2003 Tournament with the 'Cuse cruising to a 63-47 win as a three-point underdog.

--The ‘over’ is 21-12 overall for the ‘Cuse, 6-1 in its last seven outings.

--The ‘over’ is 16-11 overall for OU.

--Tip-off is scheduled for 7:25 p.m. Eastern.
   
**North Carolina vs. Gonzaga**

--LVSC opened North Carolina (30-4 SU, 13-19 ATS) as a nine-point favorite with a total of 162. As of late Thursday afternoon, most sports books had UNC at 8 ½ with the total adjusted to 163. Bettors can back the ‘Zags to win outright for a plus-325 return (risk $100 to win $325).

--Gonzaga (28-5 SU, 15-15 ATS) advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 2006 by beating Akron and Western Kentucky. In the 83-81 win over the Hilltoppers, the Bulldogs needed freshman guard Demetri Goodson’s game-winning scoop shot with 0.9 seconds left to prevail. WKU capped a furious last-minute rally with a tying tip-in by Steffphon Pettigrew with 7.2 ticks remaining, but that’s when Goodson answered by driving the length of the floor to get into the lane at the other end.

--All five Gonzaga starters scored in double figures in the non-cover as a 10 ½-point favorite versus Western Ky. Matt Bouldin was the catalyst with 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

--UNC stared elimination in the face during last Sunday’s second-round showdown against LSU. The Tigers, who trailed by nine at intermission, came out of the locker room like gang busters, scoring on six straight possessions to take the lead. At the 12 ½-minute mark, LSU’s Bo Spencer drained a step-back 3-pointer from the right wing to give his team a 64-59 advantage. From there, however, Ty Lawson took over.

--Lawson, who had missed UNC’s three previous games with turf toe, erupted for 21 of his 23 points in the second half to lead the Tar Heels back to the Sweet 16. Not only did North Carolina survive a game effort from Tasmin Mitchell and Co., but it also found away to cover the spread in an 84-70 victory as a 12 ½-point favorite. Lawson also had six assists, two steals and zero turnovers.

--Mark Few’s team has only been an underdog once this season, winning outright in overtime at Tennessee as a four-point ‘dog. As for UNC, it owns an abysmal 1-5 spread record in six games as a single-digit favorite.

--These schools met two season ago at Madison Square Garden with Gonzaga winning an 82-74 decision as a seven-point underdog. Although the game was played in November of 2006, many of the principal players were heavily involved during that ballgame in the Big Apple. Most notably, Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt had his way with UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough. Heytvelt went off with 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor. Meanwhile, Hansbrough had just nine points, nine boards and four turnovers. In the point-guard matchup between Lawson and Jeremy Pargo, Lawson had 11 points, two turnovers and only on assist, while Pargo went for 16 points. Bouldin had 14 points, six assists and four boards for the Bulldogs, while the combination of Danny Green and Wayne Ellington had just 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting from the field.

--Few perimeter defenders in America can match the speed and quickness of Lawson. However, Pargo is one of those defenders. In fact, the only edge Lawson has on Pargo is a better perimeter jumper. But in terms of all the intangibles needed in a point guard (strength, vision, speed and the ability to create off the dribble), this matchup is a push in my opinion.

--The ‘over’ is on an 8-2 run in Gonzaga’s last 10 games, but this is the highest total it has seen all year. The previous high totals for the ‘Zags ranged from 154 ½ to 157 ½ in a pair of games vs. Tennessee and one contest against Oklahoma St. The ‘under’ went 2-1 in those three games. For the season, the ‘over’ is 16-14 overall for Gonzaga.

--The ‘over’ is 18-14 overall for UNC.

--Gonzaga has been to every NCAA Tournament since 1999, but the Bulldogs haven’t been to the Elite Eight since that ’99 season when they beat Florida in the Sweet 16 on a Casey Calvary tip-in with a few seconds left (yes, Calvary was clearly over Brent Wright’s back on that play, but that’s ancient history – sort of). They fell to the eventual national champion (UConn) in the Elite Eight.

--Gonzaga’s future odds to win it all have been adjusted to 22/1 at most spots (risk $100 to win $2,200). UNC remains the ‘chalk’ for a 2/1 return, while other books are offering UNC at a more generous plus-250 (risk $100 to win $250).

--To give you an idea about how much talent will be on the court in this contest, you need only to visit NBADraft.net. The website lists UNC’s Lawson, Ellington and Hansbrough as first-round picks in their 2009 Mock Draft. They have UNC’s Green and Gonzaga’s Heytvelt and Downs as second-round selections. Then in the 2010 Mock Draft, UNC’s Ed Davis is listed as a lottery pick and Deon Thompson is a second-round selection.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun has the latest on the Billy-Donovan-to-Kentucky speculation.

--Alabama has reportedly given Anthony Grant five days (from Wednesday) to decide on whether or not he’ll accept the head-coaching gig in Tuscaloosa at $2 million per year.

--The word on the street is that Seth Curry, who led all freshmen in scoring by averaging better than 20 points per game at Liberty, is looking to transfer to one of several schools in the ACC.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Friday 3/27

Midwest Regional
By Brad Young

The NCAA Tournament has reached the Sweet 16 stage, and most of the college basketball Cinderella teams have already been eliminated. The top-three seeds in all four regions have advanced past the first two rounds, while two four seeds and a five seed are also still playing.
   
The lone exception is the Midwest Region’s 12th-seeded Arizona Wildcats. There was plenty of controversy when Arizona was selected to its 25th-consecutive NCAA Tournament this year, with many experts saying that the Wildcats didn’t belong. However, this squad has only trailed by a combined 32 seconds in NCAA Tournament wins over fifth-seeded Utah and 13th-seeded Cleveland State.

According to the latest future odds, the oddsmakers are saying Arizona doesn’t belong in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats opened as a 60/1 selection to win the Midwest Regional and advance to the Final Four, but they now currently entertain 8/1 odds. The current odds to win their regional remain the longest of any of the 16 squads still playing.

Arizona opened the tournament saddled with 350/1 odds of winning the NCAA Tournament, but have since seen its prospects improve to 50/1. Only Xavier (who opened at 300/1 before improving to 75/1) has longer future odds for this year’s tournament.

Louisville opened as a decided 6/5 ‘chalk’ to win the Midwest Regional, and now entertain 1/2 status. The top-seeded Cardinals have also seen their odds improve on capturing the NCAA Tournament title, moving from an opening 9/2 to a current 7/2. This site is just 115 miles from the Louisville campus.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has won all eight of his Sweet 16 matchups when he took previous teams Providence and Kentucky along with the Cardinals to this stage. There could also be some payback for Pitino in this matchup, considering he lost to Arizona in the 1997 NCAA Tournament championship game in Indianapolis when he was coaching the Kentucky Wildcats.

That contest took place in the since demolished RCA Dome, but the games this week will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium. That 1997 setback was the last time Pitino was the head coach for Big Blue, bolting for the Boston Celtics before returning to the college game. Kentucky won titles in 1996 and 1998, and would be considered one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time with three straight championships.

Speaking of location, this year’s Final Four is taking place at Detroit’s Ford Field. That would be a huge boost for Michigan State should the school advance to that stage. The Spartans first must get through a tough regional in Indianapolis, remaining as a 5/2 selection to do just that.

Michigan State has seen its odds improve on winning the entire tournament from an opening 25/1 to a current 15/1. Coach Tom Izzo’s teams have advanced to the Final Four in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005, cutting down the nets in 2000 for the school’s second national championship.

Kansas is the defending NCAA Tournament champions, and seeded third in the Midwest Regional. The Jayhawks opened as a 4/1 selection to win this region, but they are now the same odds as Michigan State at 5/2. Kansas started this NCAA Tournament as a 30/1 selection to repeat as champions, but the Jayhawks are now listed at 15/1 along with such other schools as Michigan State, Oklahoma, Syracuse and Villanova.

Now let’s take a closer look at Friday’s Sweet 16 contests in the Midwest Regional from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

**Arizona (12) versus Louisville (1)**

-Caesars Palace currently lists Louisville as a nine-point ‘chalk’ over Arizona, with the total set at 139 ½. The total has remained constant, but the Cardinals opened as an 8 ½-point favorite. CBS Sports will provide coverage of Friday’s Sweet 16 contest beginning at 7:05 p.m. ET from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

-Arizona (21-13 straight up, 19-14 against the spread) advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 2005 after cruising past 13th-seed Cleveland State Sunday as a 2 ½-point ‘chalk,’ 71-57. The Wildcats have won both of their NCAA Tournament games SU and ATS.

-Arizona jumped out to a 10-point halftime advantage over the Vikings, 35-25, and finished the contest by shooting 50 percent (22-of-44) from the field. Point guard Nic Wise led all scorers with 21 points and eight assists, while Jordan Hill added 16 and nine rebounds.

-Arizona maintains a 6-10 SU and 7-8 ATS road record, dropping those affairs by an average score of 69-67.

-Louisville (30-5 SU, 21-12 ATS) enters this affair riding a 12-game SU winning streak after upending ninth-seeded Siena Sunday as a 12-point ‘chalk,’ 79-72. That marked the second consecutive contest that the Cardinals failed to cover.

-Louisville dominated the Saints on the boards, 44-31, while shooting a robust 49 percent (32-of-65) from the field and 45 percent (9-of-20) from behind the arc. Forward Terrence Williams paced the offense with 24 points and 15 rebounds, while Earl Clark added 12 and 12.

-The Cardinals sport an impressive 14-2 SU and 11-5 ATS road record, winning those affairs by an average score of 69-62.

-Arizona and Louisville actually met on a neutral court back in December of 2006, with the Wildcats prevailing as a 3 ½-point favorite, 72-65.

**Kansas (3) versus Michigan State (2)**

-Caesars Palace has Michigan State listed as a two-point favorite over Kansas, with the total set at 138. The Spartans opened as a 1 ½-point ‘chalk,’ while the total has remained the same. CBS Sports starts its coverage of this Sweet 16 matchup at 9:35 p.m. ET from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

-Kansas (27-7 SU, 19-9 ATS) has strung together eight consecutive NCAA Tournament victories after winning last year’s title. The Jayhawks continued their postseason winning ways by easily handling 11th-seeded Dayton Sunday as an eight-point favorite, 60-43. Kansas is 3-1 SU and ATS its last four games overall.

-The Jayhawks outrebounded the Flyers, 46-37, while shooting 43 percent (23-of-53) from the field and limiting Dayton to just 22 percent (16-of-72). Center Cole Aldrich dominated the contest with a triple-double, posting 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks while guard Sherron Collins added 25 and seven.

-Kansas is 9-7 SU and 10-6 ATS away from home, winning those matchups by an average score of 72-69.

-Second-seeded Michigan State (28-6 SU, 17-14 ATS) slipped past 10th-seed Southern Cal Sunday as a four-point ‘chalk,’ 74-69. The Spartans had failed to cover their previous two outings before upending the Trojans.

-Michigan State outrebounded USC, 33-24, while shooting 43 percent (22-of-51) from the field and 46 percent (6-of-13) from 3-point land. Guard Travis Walton accounted for 18 points, while Durrell Summers contributed 11 and eight rebounds.

-The Spartans claim a 16-3 SU and 10-7 ATS road record, winning those games by an average score of 71-65.

-Kansas and Michigan State have already collided this year, with the Spartans prevailing January 10 as a six-point home ‘chalk,’ 75-62.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Friday 3/27

ARIZONA (21 - 13) vs. LOUISVILLE (30 - 5)
Top Trends for this game.
LOUISVILLE is 41-28 ATS (+10.2 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
LOUISVILLE is 41-28 ATS (+10.2 Units) in all lined games over the last 2 seasons.
LOUISVILLE is 23-13 ATS (+8.7 Units) when the total is 130 to 139.5 over the last 2 seasons.
LOUISVILLE is 22-12 ATS (+8.8 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record after 15 or more games over the last 2 seasons.
ARIZONA is 47-28 ATS (+16.2 Units) as an underdog since 1997.
LOUISVILLE is 21-38 ATS (-20.8 Units) in all neutral court games since 1997.
LOUISVILLE is 21-38 ATS (-20.8 Units) when playing on a neutral court since 1997.

Head-to-Head Series History
ARIZONA is 1-0 against the spread versus LOUISVILLE over the last 3 seasons
ARIZONA is 1-0 straight up against LOUISVILLE over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


KANSAS (27 - 7) vs. MICHIGAN ST (28 - 6)
Top Trends for this game.
MICHIGAN ST is 12-4 ATS (+7.6 Units) in all neutral court games over the last 2 seasons.
MICHIGAN ST is 6-0 ATS (+6.0 Units) against Big 12 conference opponents over the last 3 seasons.
MICHIGAN ST is 12-4 ATS (+7.6 Units) when playing on a neutral court over the last 2 seasons.
MICHIGAN ST is 16-7 ATS (+8.3 Units) in non-conference games over the last 2 seasons.
MICHIGAN ST is 20-10 ATS (+9.0 Units) in road games when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
KANSAS is 20-8 ATS (+11.2 Units) in all games this season.
KANSAS is 20-8 ATS (+11.2 Units) in all lined games this season.
KANSAS is 15-6 ATS (+8.4 Units) when the total is 130 to 139.5 over the last 2 seasons.
KANSAS is 20-10 ATS (+9.0 Units) after a non-conference game over the last 2 seasons.
KANSAS is 20-10 ATS (+9.0 Units) in non-conference games over the last 2 seasons.
KANSAS is 8-2 ATS (+5.8 Units) after allowing 60 points or less this season.
KANSAS is 19-5 ATS (+13.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
KANSAS is 15-1 ATS (+13.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record after 15 or more games this season.
KANSAS is 6-0 ATS (+6.0 Units) versus good defensive teams - allowing <=64 points/game after 15+ games this season.
KANSAS is 15-6 ATS (+8.4 Units) versus good defensive teams - allowing <=64 points/game over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
MICHIGAN ST is 1-0 against the spread versus KANSAS over the last 3 seasons
MICHIGAN ST is 1-0 straight up against KANSAS over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


GONZAGA (28 - 5) vs. N CAROLINA (30 - 4)
Top Trends for this game.
GONZAGA is 15-25 ATS (-12.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
N CAROLINA is 21-11 ATS (+8.9 Units) after a non-conference game over the last 2 seasons.
N CAROLINA is 23-8 ATS (+14.2 Units) in non-conference games over the last 2 seasons.
N CAROLINA is 32-21 ATS (+8.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
N CAROLINA is 27-13 ATS (+12.7 Units) in road games versus good defensive teams - allowing <=64 points/game after 15+ games since 1997.
N CAROLINA is 16-5 ATS (+10.5 Units) versus good defensive teams - allowing <=64 points/game over the last 2 seasons.
GONZAGA is 8-0 ATS (+8.0 Units) when the total is 160 to 169.5 since 1997.
GONZAGA is 44-27 ATS (+14.3 Units) in road games in all tournament games since 1997.

Head-to-Head Series History
GONZAGA is 1-0 against the spread versus N CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
GONZAGA is 1-0 straight up against N CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


SYRACUSE (28 - 9) vs. OKLAHOMA (29 - 5)
Top Trends for this game.
SYRACUSE is 3-11 ATS (-9.1 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 77+ points/game after 15+ games over the last 3 seasons.
SYRACUSE is 47-28 ATS (+16.2 Units) in all neutral court games since 1997.
SYRACUSE is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) in March games this season.
SYRACUSE is 47-28 ATS (+16.2 Units) when playing on a neutral court since 1997.
SYRACUSE is 7-1 ATS (+5.9 Units) in all tournament games this season.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.

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ARIZONA vs. LOUISVILLE
Arizona is 11-4 ATS in its last 15 games
Arizona is 10-5 SU in its last 15 games
Louisville is 16-7 ATS in its last 23 games
Louisville is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games

SYRACUSE vs. OKLAHOMA
Syracuse is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games
Syracuse is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games
Oklahoma is 17-4 SU in its last 21 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Oklahoma's last 6 games

KANSAS vs. MICHIGAN STATE
Kansas is 15-3-1 ATS in its last 19 games
Kansas is 16-3 SU in its last 19 games
Michigan State is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
Michigan State is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games

GONZAGA vs. NORTH CAROLINA
Gonzaga is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
North Carolina is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games
North Carolina is 16-2 SU in its last 18 games

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Arizona vs. Louisville
Arizona:
47-28 ATS as an underdog
18-9 ATS off an Under

Louisville:
21-38 ATS on neutral court
19-9 Under off an Over


Kansas vs. Michigan State
Kansas:
15-5 Under Away off BB non-conf games
15-6 Under Away off BB ATS wins

Michigan State:
6-0 ATS as neutral court favorite of 6pts or less
6-0 ATS vs. Big 12


Gonzaga vs. North Carolina
Gonzaga:
9-0 ATS when the total is 160 or higher
22-10 ATS as neutral court underdog

North Carolina:
9-18 ATS off SU win
17-8 Over off an Under


Syracuse vs. Oklahoma
Syracuse:
22-10 ATS as a neutral court dog
7-1 ATS in tournament games

Oklahoma:
16-4 Under Away off BB covers as a favorite
9-2 Under Away playing only their 2nd game in a week

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Tips and Trends

Midwest Region: #12 Arizona vs. #1 Louisville


Arizona: The Wildcats weren't supposed to make it this far as one of the final teams to make the NCAA tournament field. But they're here in the Sweet 16 and now have the chance to knock out the top overall seed. “Just the opportunity to walk through this journey this year is incredible - it’s stretched me, it’s forced me to think outside the box," Arizona interim head coach Russ Pennell said. "It’s very unconventional what we’ve gone through. If this is the only opportunity, so be it. Life goes on.”
Arizona is 3-1 SU & ATS in its last 4 games overall.
The OVER is 6-2 in Arizona's last 8 NCAA tournament games.

Key Injuries - G Nic Wise (ankle) is probable.

PROJECTED SCORE: 67 (OVER - Total Play of the Day)

Louisville (-9, O/U 139): Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino owns a career record of 8-0 in regional semifinals but realizes he is facing a similar opponent defensively in Arizona. “It’s the closest I’ve ever seen two teams in the type of pressure (defense) they apply,” Pitino said. “They do one thing different - they bring their center out to the corner sometimes. But it’s almost identical to what we’re trying to accomplish.” One possible distraction for Louisville is that Pitino is rumored to possibly replace Pennell at Arizona or Billy Gillispie at Kentucky if he is in fact fired.

Louisville is 16-7 ATS in its last 23 games overall.
The OVER is 4-2 in Louisville's last 6 NCAA tournament games.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 76


South Region: #4 Gonzaga vs. #1 North Carolina

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs upset North Carolina 82-74 three years ago in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT after losing star Adam Morrison to the NBA, so they know they can play with the Tar Heels. Still, Gonzaga is relishing the role of the underdog again and can't wait to prove the oddsmakers wrong. “It’s kind of nice to be the underdog,” Gonzaga's Josh Heytvelt said. “Most of the season we’ve had the bull’s-eye on our back - through our conference and a lot of preseason games. There’s a lot of hype for Carolina. The fans don’t expect anything but a championship from those guys.”

Gonzaga is 20-1 SU in its last 21 games overall.
The OVER is 8-2 in Gonzaga's last 10 games overall.

Key Injuries - G Matt Bouldin (knee) is probable.

PROJECTED SCORE: 79 (Side Play of the Day)

North Carolina (-8.5, O/U 162.5): Wayne Ellington has led the Tar Heels with 48 points in two NCAA tournament games so far, but there's no doubt this team is much more dangerous with Ty Lawson running the offense. Lawson has helped open things up for Ellington, who made 3-of-6 shots from beyond the arc in an 84-70 win over LSU in the second round. “I feel like it’s that time of year where I think everybody should be elevating their game,” Ellington said. “I’ve just been stepping up to the challenge.”

North Carolina is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games overall.
The UNDER is 4-1 in North Carolina's last 5 games overall.

Key Injuries - PG Ty Lawson (toe) is probable.

PROJECTED SCORE: 83

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NCAAB Today

Friday, March 27

NCAA tournament

#12 seeds are 3-7 vs spread in this round since 1994, but Arizona isn't your ordinary #12 seed; Wildcats are 12-3 out of conference, 3-1 as an underdog- they start three guys who will play in NBA, but they won't leave game, because they have no depth. Louisville won twelve games in row (9-3 vs spread) but struggled vs thin Siena squad Sunday, trailing in second half. Cardinals are 11-3 out of Big East, but they're 1-8 vs spread in their last nine non-conference games, all as a favorite.

Kansas (+6.5) was down 37-18 at half, lost 75-62 at Michigan State Jan 10, in game where both point guards scored 20+ points. Jayhawks have gotten lot better since then, winning 16 of 19 since Michigan State loss. Kansas is 12-2 outside the Big 12. Spartans won eight of last nine games are also 12-2 in non-league games. Key is whether Spartans' frontcourt, which is deep, can offset more talented but thinner Kansas frontcourt. Suton better shoot better than 1-10, which he did in their USC win.

Syracuse won nine of last ten games, with only loss to Louisville when they were playing fourth night in row; Orangemen beat Kansas 89-81 in OT in Kansas City Nov 25, in their only game vs Big 12 foe. Since 1998, underdog is 9-6 vs spread in games with 2-3 seeds playing. Oklahoma is 4-4 in last eight games after 25-1 start, but Blake Griffin missed most of the losses with a concussion- he was clearly the difference in Sooners' 73-63 win vs Michigan. Orangemen are more diverse team on offense.

Gonzaga beat North Carolina in preseason NIT couple of years back in NYC; Zags won last ten games, are 2-0 vs the spread as dog this season. Gonzaga is just 9-5 outside the WCC, losing by 5 to Arizona, 5 in OT to UConn, 18 to Memphis (also lost to Portland State, Utah). Lawson back in Tar Heel lineup gives UNC open court spark they previously lacked; Carolina is 16-2 in last 18 games, but is 3-6-1 vs spread in last 10 games as a favorite. #1 seeds are 1-4 vs spread in last five games vs #4-seeds.

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Game of the day: Syracuse vs. Oklahoma
By Miller Group

Syracuse Orange vs. Oklahoma Sooners (-1, 153)

Betting the numbers


The line has held steady at Oklahoma -1 throughout the week while the total has taken a slight dip, dropping from the opener of 153.5 to 153 and even 152.5 at some sportsbooks.

Both the Orange and Sooners have made their backers money in the current price range. Syracuse is 4-1 ATS the last five times it's been dogged by fewer than 6.5 points. Oklahoma has beaten the number five of the last seven times it's been favored by less than 6.5.

The Sooners entered the NCAA tournament on a 1-5 ATS slide but went 2-0 ATS last weekend.

Mirror image

Take a look at the stat sheet and you'll find that little separates these two combatants.

From an offensive standpoint, both average in the ballpark of 80 points per game. We're also talking about two of the best shooting teams in the nation at 48.8 percent and 49.1 percent respectively.

Defensively, the Sooners hold a slight edge, allowing just a shade over 67 ppg on 39.4 percent shooting. The Orange do own an advantage in terms of perimeter defense. They've limited their opponents to just 29.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Of course, Oklahoma isn't exactly what we would consider a trigger happy team.

Looking ahead

If you listen to sophomore guard Jonny Flynn, Syracuse is already thinking Final Four, a destination that seemed unlikely just a few short weeks ago.

"If you're a basketball player, you look forward to the big stage," said Flynn earlier in the week. "We can't wait to get to Memphis. But our vision is the Final Four, definitely."

It would obviously be a mistake to look past the Sooners, who have played as well as anyone through the first two rounds of this tournament.

On a roll

Syracuse might just be the hottest team remaining in the Sweet 16.

The Orange have won nine of their last 10 games ATS, with their only misstep coming at the hands of the No. 1 ranked Louisville Cardinals in the Big East championship.

Should this be a close game, you have to give the edge to the Cuse. They've won three overtime games during their current run, including that marathon six-OT thriller against UConn. You should also note they're 11-4 SU in games decided by 10 points or less this season.

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South Regional: Round 3 preview and picks
By DAVID PAYNE

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Syracuse Orange (+1, 153)

Oklahoma has the weapons to attack Syracuse’s zone defense. But so did Arizona State. The Sun Devils shot 40.8 percent against the Orange and exited the tournament.

Coach Jim Boeheim didn’t think it was his defense that won the Arizona State game, though.

“They scored against us and hit some shots,” Boeheim said on ESPN Radio, “but they just didn’t stop us.”

The Sooners also should be able to find points against the Orange’s zone. The Griffin brothers, Blake and Taylor, work the high/low post game well. Guards Willie Warren and Austin Johnson are capable 3-point shooters and keep an eye on Cade Davis coming off the bench. He’s got the size to shoot over Syracuse’s perimeter defenders and can get hot quickly.

Also don’t be surprised to see Oklahoma try to run a little more, attacking the basket before Syracuse can set up its defense. Both Griffin’s run the floor exceptionally well.

Syracuse certainly doesn’t mind an up-tempo game, either. Six of its last seven games have gone over the total.

Statistically, the Sooners and Orange are two evenly matched teams, which makes the 1-point spread seem like a sharp line.

Both teams shoot the ball exceptionally well. Oklahoma is second in the nation in field goal percentage; Syracuse is sixth.

With Blake Griffin on the inside, the Sooners are a better rebounding team. Give the edge to Syracuse’s backcourt, though.

Neither team is a good free-throw shooting team.

Final Score prediction: Syracuse 82, Oklahoma 78

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (-8.5, 162.5)

Normally, college games from two years ago offer very little handicapping value.
Gonzaga’s win over North Carolina in the 2006 preseason NIT might be an exception.

Eight players from that game (three Zags, five Tar Heels) will face off again tonight, with more than an NIT championship on the line.

If anything, the Zags’ 82-74 win over Carolina shows that they can matchup with the Tar Heels, both on the perimeter and in the paint.

Gonzaga’s guards, particularly Matt Bouldin, have the size to contend with Carolina’s Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. The athletic Jeremy Pargo should be able to hang with Ty Lawson, as well.

On the inside, Josh Heytvelt helped hold Tyler Hansbrough to single digits in 2006, something the Tar Heel center has experienced only eight times in his entire career.

Few expect another Gonzaga upset, though. But the 8.5 points is attractive, especially considering the Tar Heels’ struggles against the spread this season.
North Carolina was just 11-19 ATS, heading into the NCAA tournament. They are 1-5 ATS when favored by less than 10 points this season.

But Roy Williams’ squad, as expected, has taken things up a notch in the Big Dance.

After wins over Radford and LSU, the Tar Heels have now covered in their last five NCAA tournament games.

The return of Lawson certainly helped against LSU. Behind a big second half from their starting point guard, the Tar Heels pulled away from LSU for a 14-point win.

Lawson, who had 23 against LSU, had four complete days to rest his toe and says he’ll be ready to go against Gonzaga.

The lone common opponent this season is Maryland. Gonzaga crushed the Terrapins in November. The Tar Heels went 1-1 against Maryland, losing in overtime in February.

With the amount of talent that oozes from the powder blue, it’s extremely difficult to go against the Tar Heels. But those who have bet against them this season have reaped the benefits.

Final score prediction: North Carolina 88, Gonzaga 83

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Midwest Regional: Round 3 preview and picks
By DAVID JONES

Arizona Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals (-9, 139)

As the only remaining team in the tourney with a seed higher than five, Arizona can embrace its underdog role. The Wildcats are playing free and loose for interim head coach Russ Pennell.

Arizona (21-13 SU, 20-13 ATS) has offensive firepower that could make things uneasy for the favored Cardinals. Junior forwards Jordan Hill (18.4 ppg., 11.0 rpg.) and Chase Budinger (17.9 ppg.) complement each other in the Arizona frontcourt. In the backcourt, guard Nic Wise (15.7 ppg.) orchestrates the flow of the Wildcats’ attack.

With double-digit wins over Utah and Cleveland State, Arizona has taken advantage of its controversial invite to the tournament. The expectations are far different for its foe.

Louisville (30-5 SU, 21-14 ATS) didn't panic in the second round against Siena. The Cards went five minutes without scoring while Siena scored 12 straight points to take a 63-59 lead with seven minutes to go in the game. Louisville survived and advanced.

The Cards also have a pair of solid forwards to counter Arizona's squad. Earl Clark and Terrence Williams combine to average 27 points and 18 rebounds per outing.

The real difference between the teams is depth. Louisville has it, the Wildcats do not. This could doom Arizona against the full-court press of the Cardinals.

The "cards" do appear to be stacked against the underdogs in this matchup. While Arizona has an interim coach, Louisville has an elite leader in Rick Pitino. Cardinal red will be all over the dome in Indy this weekend as the strong fan base makes the 90-minute drive from Louisville.

With a significant defensive edge as well, the Cardinals are the superior club on paper. However, Louisville's sloppy play (36 turnovers in the tournament) and poor free throw shooting (63.8 percent, 307th ranked in the nation) are a potential recipe for disaster.

The four off days after some average basketball last week has given Pitino enough time to refocus his team. The message will be clearly received on Friday as Louisville wears down the Wildcats to reach the Elite Eight.

Final score prediction: Louisville 78, Arizona 67

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Michigan State Spartans (-1.5, 139)

How much have the young Jayhawks grown up since January 10? That was the date of Kansas' trip to East Lansing to face the Spartans. In a game where neither team shot higher than 40 percent, a rebounding edge (39-28) enabled the home team to cruise to a 75-62 victory. The rematch figures to be a little more competitive.

Since that setback in January, the defending national champions have progressed quite nicely. Kansas (27-7 SU, 20-7-1 ATS), despite losing most of the key performers from last year's title run, stormed through the tough Big 12 to capture the regular season conference crown. Junior guard Sherron Collins has fueled the Jayhawks in this year's tourney with an average of 28.5 points per contest in victories over North Dakota State and Dayton.

The loss of talent has enabled sophomore center Cole Aldrich (14.8 ppg., 11.0 rpg.) an opportunity to step up. He has more than answered the challenge after posting a triple-double (13 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots) against Dayton.

Bill Self has been able to run his offense (48 percent field goal shooting) and defense (38 percent field goal shooting) with maximum efficiency.

The Spartans (28-6 SU, 18-12-1 ATS) survived a scare in the second round from USC to reach the Midwest regional semifinals. Their bruising style of play will seek to disrupt the flow of the Kansas gameplan.

The outstanding backcourt duo of Kalin Lucas (Big Ten player of the year) and Travis Walton (Big Ten defensive player of the year) will challenge Collins on both ends of the floor. While Michigan State lacks a star in the frontcourt, they have some bangers on the inside to oppose Aldrich.

Rebounding will play a critical role in this matchup. Michigan State allows the fewest rebounds to an opponent of any team in the nation. In a battle of sound defenses, rebounds are vital.

This is probably the most anticipated game of the Sweet 16. The contest features two elite coaches with championship experience and a pair of schools with great traditions.

In the end, the Spartans have the slight edge in this battle of college hoops heavyweights.

Final score prediction: Michigan State 70, Kansas 66

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NCAA Tourney Research
By Indiancowboy

Arizona vs. Louisville

As you know I had Arizona to roll into the sweet and I'm kicking myself for not rolling with them in the first few games of the season. Just goes to show that I needed to make some corrections for next year which I will. I'm a fan of Arizona and their temp coach as many thought they did not deserve this bid and they have certainly proven them wrong defeating Cleveland State (who defeatd Wake) to get here. Louisville had a solid game against Siena but they were down late in the second half. Arizona is no joke having defeated Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA, USC and Washington this year. Although I lean on the dog and I lean on Arizona here, Louisville did beat Villanova by 14, Syracuse by 10 and Providence by 18 on neutral footing in the Big East tournament.

Kansas vs. Michigan State

Kansas absolutely rolled over Dayton a top 80 in their last game winning by 17. Michigan State did beat Texas in a semi-away in their last game, but I think their early game against UNC says a lot. Kansas has the ability to step up big for games and Baylor does not count. When the chips are on the docket, Kansas plays well. The public is split on this game, and this game comes down to which guards hit their shots as both defenses are sound. I think this game is a bit of a toss-up.

Gonzaga vs. North Carolina

Gonzaga can play and they beat a very good Western Kentucky team to get here. 'Zaga faced Uconn in a semi-home this year and lost in OT, lost to Utah by 5 on the road and Arizona by 5 on a semi-road. In short, when this team does lose, they don't lose by much. Their one shaky loss was to Memphis at home by 18 but since then this team has reeled off 11 wins including dominating the West Coast Conference Tournament. UNC did beat a top 50 team in LSU by 14, but they will have their hands full against 'Zaga today. Lean on the dog here with Zaga catching the 8.5. I tihnk both 'Zaga and Arizona could be nice dogs today.

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