NCAA Tournament Odds and Predictions for Sweet 16
by Trevor Whenham - 3/22/2011
And then there were eight. The chaos of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament has boiled down to a much saner and manageable number of games this week -- just four Sweet 16 games per day on Thursday and Friday. There might be fewer, but this weekend’s contests are no less interesting than the crazy ones we have just witnessed. Here’s a look at the NCAA Tournament Odds, Sweet 16 variety, and some predictions from my first reaction to each pairing (all NCAA Tournament odds are from BetUS):
Florida (-2.5) vs. BYU - This is a pretty good example of how easy it can be for the media and the public to overreact. BYU lost a key player and was written off by pretty much everyone. They look like they haven’t gotten the memo that they are supposed to be hopeless. Their first round was only okay, but they dismantled Gonzaga in impressive fashion in Round 3. Now they play what still seems to me to be a very vulnerable team. Maybe the Cougars just needed something to rally around.
Wisconsin (-4) vs. Butler - I couldn’t possibly be more impressed by Butler and what they have done in their last two games. Unfortunately, I think Wisconsin might be the worst possible opponent for them. The Badgers are not at all flashy. In fact, they are dull and methodical. They just keep doing what they are supposed to do, though, and it is really hard to rattle them or to get them away from their game. Butler will put up a great effort as always, and could certainly win this one, but they certainly could have had easier routes to the next round.
UConn (-1) vs. San Diego State - How long can UConn keep the momentum of this crazy season going? And how can San Diego State -- a team that had never won a tournament game before this year -- handle the pressure of being the higher seed and virtually playing at home? Can the Aztecs slow down Kemba Walker? And can the Huskies handle the stunning front three of the Aztecs? And which old-time coaching legend can get the edge? This one is packed with storylines.
Duke (-9) vs. Arizona - Duke managed to hold on to beat Michigan, but it sure showed some weaknesses that the team has -- like how badly they can be disrupted by shifts in defense, and how rattled Kyle Singler gets when he gets into foul trouble. It will be interesting to see if Arizona -- which has more size than Michigan -- can exploit those weaknesses slightly more effectively. It will also be interesting to see if a few more days of preparation can mean that Kyrie Irving can be more of a factor than he has been so far.
North Carolina (-4.5) vs. Marquette - If you had to pick the number of Big East teams that would make the Sweet 16 from the 11 that started the tournament would you have guessed two? And would you have guessed that Marquette would be one of them? Me neither. I would also never have guessed that the ACC -- a conference that looked like it was only going to get two teams into the tournament for a long time -- would have more teams remaining, with three, than any other conference. That’s why the tournament is great.
Kansas (-11) vs. Richmond - My first reaction is that this line doesn’t give Richmond enough respect, but then I am not the Kansas fan that a lot of people are. Richmond is the lowest remaining seed in the tournament, and they haven’t really been tested fully yet -- Vanderbilt is a bad tournament team, and Morehead State was seeded even lower.
Ohio State (-5) vs. Kentucky - This is the game I am most excited about in this round. Ohio State has looked like a completely dominant, stunningly complete team in their two games, and it is not hard to imagine them winning it all. Kentucky stands out to me as perhaps the team best suited to challenge them. This one is worth the price of admission for the coaches alone.
Florida State (-4) vs. VCU - Richmond, Virginia -- a city with a population of just over 200,000 -- has two teams in the Sweet 16. That’s one team per 100,000 people. The rest of the country, with a population of 308,500,000, is represented by 14 teams, or one for every 22 million people or so. This team from Richmond plays in the most unlikely of Sweet 16 games, but one of the most competitive.
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