NCAA Tournament: What to Watch for in the Sweet 16 Matchups

Solely 16 groups stay within the N.C.A.A. males’s basketball event coming into Thursday. By the tip of this weekend, the sector can be whittled all the way down to the Closing 4.

4 video games will happen Thursday, cut up between San Francisco and San Antonio, earlier than 4 extra on Friday in Philadelphia and Chicago. Eight groups will stay coming into the weekend, with two video games Saturday and two on Sunday.

9 totally different seed strains and eight conferences stay among the many spherical of 16. Right here’s what to observe for coming into the Thursday video games.

Baylor was knocked out on Saturday by eighth-seeded North Carolina, making this the fifth straight event by which the reigning nationwide champion was ousted earlier than the spherical of 16. But three No. 1 seeds stay: Gonzaga (28-3), the highest general seed, Arizona (33-3) and Kansas (30-6).

Beneath Coach Mark Few, Gonzaga is the one staff that has reached the spherical of 16 in every of the final seven tournaments, and it has performed in two of the final 4 championship video games. However its path to the Closing 4 in New Orleans is something however simple. After surviving ninth-seeded Memphis, 82-78, in maybe probably the most entertaining recreation of the event, the Bulldogs will face No. 4-seeded Arkansas in San Francisco (Thursday, 7:09 p.m. Japanese time, CBS), after which would get the winner between the No. 2 seed Duke and No. 3-seeded Texas Tech within the West area. Gonzaga enters as a 9½-point favourite over the Razorbacks.

Kansas is an 8-point favourite over No. 4-seeded Windfall, the Huge East regular-season champion, on Friday in Chicago within the Midwest area.

However Arizona is only a 1½-point favourite over fifth-seeded Houston in San Antonio within the South (Thursday, 9:59 p.m. Japanese, TBS). In case you’re in search of an upset, Houston is your finest guess. The Cougars are within the high 10 in each offensive and defensive effectivity according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, that means they have an inclination to get a very good shot whereas their opponent doesn’t.

No less than one No. 1 seed has reached the Closing 4 in 9 straight tournaments, and a number of No. 1 seeds have reached the spherical of 8 in seven straight tournaments.

Duke (30-6) survived and superior in opposition to seventh-seeded Michigan State on Sunday, extending Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s profession for at the very least one other week. Nonetheless, the Blue Devils may have their fingers full with an older Texas Tech staff ranked No. 1 in defensive effectivity by KenPom. The Crimson Raiders (27-9) are permitting simply 13 factors within the paint per recreation within the event, the fewest within the discipline. They are going to look to play a bodily recreation that disrupts Duke’s offensive circulate (Thursday, 9:39 p.m. Japanese, CBS). The Blue Devils function 5 potential N.B.A. draft picks, led by the freshman ahead Paolo Banchero, who averages 17.0 factors and seven.9 rebounds per recreation.

“I’m not that excited,” Mark Adams, Texas Tech’s first-year coach, mentioned of going through Duke. “I don’t know if anyone is happy about taking part in Duke.”

Krzyzewski has “at all times been a mentor of mine, somebody I regarded as much as,” Adams added. “Not solely is he an amazing coach, however an amazing individual. Simply achieved a lot for basketball. And he’s constructed a program which all of us admire and respect. It’s only one staff to the following, he’s obtained a dynasty he’s constructed. So our hat’s off to him.”

Ought to Duke advance, it might get a rematch in opposition to Gonzaga in what could be the highest-profile recreation of the event. The Blue Devils beat the top-ranked Bulldogs, 84-81, on Nov. 26 in Las Vegas with Banchero scoring 21 factors and the junior ahead Wendell Moore having 20 factors, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Atlantic Coast Convention was maligned for being down all through the season, but right here it’s with three groups — Duke, North Carolina and Miami — within the spherical of 16. The Tar Heels knocked off a No. 1 seed, and the Hurricanes routed a No. 2 seed, Auburn, by 18 factors.

Miami Coach Jim Larrañaga trolled Charles Barkley, the Naismith Corridor of Famer who performed at Auburn, instantly following the No. 10-seeded Hurricanes’ 79-61 victory on Sunday. Barkley, working as a TV analyst throughout the event, had mentioned earlier than the sport that he would have fun by taking his shirt off if Auburn gained.

“I listened to Charles Barkley inform the CBS crew that if Auburn gained, he would take off his shirt,” Larrañaga mentioned. “And I assumed to myself, ‘Man, nobody desires to see that, Chuck.’”

The Huge 12 Convention additionally has three groups remaining in Kansas, Texas Tech and Iowa State, which took out third-seeded Wisconsin, a Huge Ten common season co-champion, and subsequent will get Miami.

The Huge East has two faculties remaining in second-seeded Villanova, which gained N.C.A.A. championships in 2016 and 2018 underneath Coach Jay Wright, and Windfall.

The Pac-12 additionally has two faculties remaining, Arizona and fourth-seeded U.C.L.A., which performs North Carolina on Friday. A West Coast college hasn’t gained the title since Arizona in 1997.

The Huge Ten as soon as once more is arising quick. It despatched 9 groups to the event, probably the most of any convention, however solely two stay. No. 11-seeded Michigan will face Villanova in San Antonio (Thursday, 7:29 p.m. Japanese, TBS). No. 3 Purdue, the runner-up within the Huge Ten event, will meet upset-minded St. Peter’s, a No. 15 seed, on Friday in Philadelphia.

A 12 months in the past, the Huge Ten additionally put 9 groups into the event, with solely Michigan reaching the spherical of 8.

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