(2) Iowa vs (7) Oregon
Line: Iowa -4
Time: Monday 12:10
Oregon the only team that will be moving on to the round of 32 without playing in the previous round. VCU had multiple positive COVID cases leading to the cancellation of the game and the advancement of the Ducks. They feature the third-team All-American, Chris Duarte who fills up the scoring column. St. Johns’s transfer LJ Figueroa is the second scoring option who loves the 3-ball and the offense is paced by point guard Will Richardson. Their anchor in the system is senior Eugene Omoruyi who controls the paint putting up 16.7 ppg and 5.2 rebounds.
Iowa is coming off a 12-point win over Grand Canyon which showcased their offensive explosiveness. The best player in the country Luka Garza will destroy any team in the post and has the range to hurt teams from deep. Combine that with the smooth stroke of Joe Wieskamp and Jordan Bohannon and this offense can score 90 on most teams. Look for this game to hit the over as defense will not be the main priority of either squad.
(1) Gonzaga vs (8) Oklahoma
Line: Gonzaga -14
Time: Monday 2:40 PM
Oklahoma is entering this game after a hard-fought 4-point victory over Missouri. This was a back-and-forth game that the Sooners ended up winning on the back of Austin Reaves. He is their leading scorer and assist man who poured in a game-high 23 points. They looked better on both sides of the ball and than they did to finish the season and will be looking to carry that performance into Monday.
Gonzaga just showed the country another example of why they have the best offense in the country. They destroyed Norfolk State and made a 98-point performance look effortless. Their roster features 3 All-Americans in Kispert, Suggs, and Timme and they can beat you from transition, the deep ball, post-play, and virtually every aspect of the game. They will need to have an extreme off night for Oklahoma to pull off this upset.
(11) UCLA vs (14) Abilene Christian
Time: Monday 5:15
Abilene Christian is coming off their biggest upset in program history as they took down 3-seeded Texas in a hard-fought game. It was a defensive struggle that ended in them pulling out a 1-point victory. They have a gritty group of guys that all lockdown on defense and made it look like Texas was a mid-major program. If they can play with that intensity combined with offensive production from Joe Pleasant and Coryon Mason, they will have a chance to advance.
UCLA has looked like the squad that entered the season at 8-0. Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. function as the two shot makers in this offense. Tyger Campbell controls the point and his back-court mate Jules Bernard compliments him well. They have been shooting the ball well and Mick Cronin has them working together as a unit on defense. Look for them to capitalize on playing a lower seed and enter the game with a lot of intensity.
(5) Creighton vs (13) Ohio
Line: Creighton –5.5
Time: Monday 6:10
Ohio is coming into this game after upsetting Virginia in a thrilling game. Ohio goes as point guard Jason Preston goes. He averages 17 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds a game and creates the most offense for the team. He was the reason Ohio stayed in this game and junior Ben Vander Plas surged with a personal 8-0 run to give Ohio the lead. They have become a fan favorite and will be looking to get their squad into the sweet 16.
Creighton had many question marks entering the tournament. Zegarowski and the Blue Jays survived by 1 point against UCSB in a tough game. Creighton looks to push the pace and put up a lot of 3’s when they are playing their style of basketball. Thye have a great inside-out game and can be one of the best offenses in the country. Look for a lot of high pick and rolls and great ball movement around the perimeter in a close game between these two.
(1) Michigan vs (8) LSU
Line: Michigan -5
Time: Monday 7:10
Michigan and Louisiana State look to bring an exciting game to viewers as LSU aims for the upset. Playing its best basketball of the season in March is a winning recipe and one that the Tigers will look to continue. With a high-powered offense capable of scoring against some of the best defenses in the nation, LSU will aim to continue its fine form that saw four players score more than 10 and Cameron Thomas score 27. Thomas is averaging 23.1 points per game and the other Tiger standout, Trendon Watford, averages 16.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
If the Louisana State Tigers do have a weakness to exploit, it is likely their defense. Adhering to the maxim “the best defense is offense” will be difficult to follow against an excellent and efficient Michigan offense. Although slow, Michigan does not need many opportunities and could punish any LSU mistakes. Led by Mike Smith and Hunter Dickinson, who combined for 34 points on 10-for-13 shooting against Texas Southern, Michigan needs to continue that form in the absence of senior Isaiah Livers, who averaged 13.1 points throughout the season.
(4) Florida State vs (5) Colorado
Line: FSU -1
Time: Monday 7:45
Colorado finds itself up against the ACC’s best three-point team after dispatching Georgetown 96-73. The Colorado buffaloes were lights out, 61 percent from the field and look to be one of the best teams of the tournament after the opening round. The Buffs have a star guard in McKinley Wright IV who is averaging 15.3 points, 5.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. Not be forgotten is the defensive wall that Colorado put up against Georgetown, holding them to under 40 percent from the field and rebounding well.
Florida State is coming off a tough game against UNCG, only putting them out in the last few minutes of regulation. A large part of that comes down to the team’s abysmal performance from beyond the arc. Going 0-for-9 is disastrous by anyone’s standards, even more so for a team that averages 39% from long range. The Seminoles’ leading scorer is M.J. Walker with an average of 13 points per game, but everyone on the team can score. Averaging 78.9 points per game and three players with at least 12 points all hint at an exciting clash between two offensive teams.
(2) Alabama vs (10) Maryland
Line: Alabama -5
Time: Monday 8:45
After upsetting UConn, Maryland faces a tougher foe in the form of Alabama. Not to be left behind by their football program, the Alabama Crimson Tide won the SEC regular-season and conference tournament titles. Furthermore, the Crimson Tide favors a fast-paced attack from multiple places. Four players average more than 10 points per game and they play at a speed that ranks them ninth-fastest in the nation. The Alabama backcourt is something to be afraid of. Martialed by Villanova transfer Javon Quinerly (12.6 points per game), Jaden Shackelford and John Petty Jr. pour on the offense, averaging 14.1 and 12.1 points per game. However, their best player is likely Herb Jones. The senior won SEC Player of the Year and SEC defensive player of the year averaging 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game.
As opposed to Alabama’s fast-paced offense, the Maryland Terrapins play slow and force that tempo on their opponents. To put up a fight, the Terps will need to be competitive on the glass. UConn outrebounded Maryland by 11 and had 22 rebounds but could not pull off the win. It is unlikely that the Terps will be able to continue that trend. To keep the team in the game and efficient on offense look for Eric Ayala, averaging 14.9 points per game.
(3) Kansas vs (6) USC
Line: USC -1
Time: Monday 9:40
The Kansas Jayhawks are slight underdogs in this fixture against the USC Trojans despite a strong second-half performance against Eastern Washington. The Jayhawks’ big man David McCormack is a key player who spearheaded their win with 22 points and nine rebounds in their first-round win. Kansas may also see their starting forward Jalen Wilson return to the court after missing the previous game with a positive test for coronavirus. Wilson averages 12.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, a significant part of the Kansas team. This game could be attritional, Kansas boasts the sixth-best defense in the nation, and will be interesting to see how the Trojans deal with it.
Instrumental to the Trojan’s efforts will be their center, Evan Mobley. Mobley was the Pac-12 Player of the year and averaged 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. Mobley is not the only player on the court for the Trojans, Isaiah Mobley and Drew Peterson scored 15 and 14 points respectively against Drake. However, where the Trojans shine is on defense. In the second half against Drake, the Bulldogs were kept to merely 29% from the field and kept opponents’ two-point field goal percentage to just 42.2% all year.