Purdue (-12.5) vs St. Peter’s
Cinderella stories are what endear fans to March Madness every year and I think it would be great if St. Peter’s could notch one more against Purdue on Friday. That said, I don’t see it happening and I also don’t see it being particularly close. St. Peter’s has thrived in this tournament by out rebounding opponents and/or hitting 3 pointers at a significantly higher clip. While Purdue can struggle defensively sometimes, one area where they shine is the glass. The Boilermakers led the Big Ten in both total rebounds and rebounding margin. Their two big men in Zach Edey and Trevion Williams have been a matchup nightmare for good teams and a sorry case for average teams. While St Peter’s was able to slow down Murray State’s KJ Williams on the block, I think they’ll struggle with the faster Trevion Williams — much like they struggled against Kentucky’s Oscar Tsiebwe. I’ll take Purdue and the points up to -15 on this one.
Author: Patrick Monnin
#4 Arkansas vs #1 Gonzaga: Gonzaga -9.5 (-110)
Both teams have looked unimpressive to start the tournament, but Gonzaga matches up very well against Arkansas here. Arkansas’ interior defense is shaky at times, and Gonzaga fields arguably the best interior duo in Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren. The Razorbacks rely on free throws – they have taken 50 so far – but Gonzaga only allows 14.8 FTA per game. I don’t like Arkansas’ matchup at all, and I expect Gonzaga to come out with some energy after back-to-back slow starts. Drew Timme is at 28.5 PPG for the tournament, which should scare Arkansas to its core. Rasir Bolton (47 3PT%) and Julian Strawther (37.1 3PT%) can get hot from deep at any time. Andrew Nembhard is a playmaking force. Arkansas has to account for all of those players, and that was not even mentioning likely top 3 pick Chet Holmgren. Look for Gonzaga to get back on track and flex their basketball muscles here.
Author: Braxton Reynolds
Purdue (-12.5) vs St. Peter’s
The Sweet 16 teams are set to play later in the week, and with the ongoing upsets, it may be hard to navigate the scope of making picks. St. Peter’s has shocked the nation as a #15 seed that has made their way to the Sweet 16 round and is set to play the #3 seed Purdue. St. Peter’s has taken down the #2 Kentucky and the #7 Murray State, but their road to the Elite 8 may be stopping against the Purdue Boilermakers. The spread for the game is set for -12.5 (-110) for Purdue, which has been the similar odds St. Peter’s has seen in the entirety of the tournament, but Purdue has shown a fire within them that will have them sweep the moneyline. I wouldn’t count St. Peter’s out on the spread, but their end of the road is near, and I think this may be their last stop.
Author: Maggie Rivers
#11 Michigan vs #2 Villanova -4.5 (-110 at FanDuel)
Michigan’s on a hell of a run. The Wolverines are one of only two Big Ten teams left and pulled off two upset victories to do it (Colorado State, Tennessee).
I expected Colorado State to blow by Michigan. I also thought Tennessee would be too strong with Kennedy Chandler leading the charge on offense.
But Hunter Dickinson dropped a combined 48 points and the Michigan defense stepped up. For the first time since non-conference play, the Wolverines allowed less than 1.00 PPP in back-to-back games.
But it didn’t do it without some luck.
Michigan’s opponents shot a combined 14-for-53 (26.1%) from deep in the two NCAAT games. Tennessee couldn’t hit an open shot.
That won’t happen against Villanova, who is a Fortune 500 company.
Jay Wright’s offense is so consistent and so well executed. Especially by a bunch of experienced upperclassmen who never turn the ball over, pass crisply, huck a bunch of 3s, and shoot the lights out.
Villanova has a huge advantage on the perimeter, where Michigan’s defense has been particularly weak. One example: Villanova is 15th in pick-and-roll frequency and 38th in pick-and-roll efficiency, while Michigan is 223rd in pick-and-roll defensive efficiency.
Meanwhile, I wouldn’t count out Villanova’s interior defense. The Wildcats are undersized, and Dickinson will have the advantage there, but Villanova is 75th in post-up defensive efficiency and 29th in defensive efficiency at the rim. Wright will have the bodies to contain Michigan’s big man.
Finally, Villanova is on pace to be the best free-throw shooting team of all time. Harvard’s 1983-84 squad shot 82.2% from the line, while ‘Nova is currently shooting 82.6%.
That means if the game comes down to fouls and Villanova is ahead, it’ll be easy for the Wildcats to sneak past this -4.5 number and extend the lead in the final seconds.
I’d play Villanova up to -5 and would consider putting it in