Against the Spread: Sweet 16 Picks

We won’t go into a ton of detail, but Chris and I are both avid gambling fans.  We love the numbers associated with games, no matter which sport.  It’s a sign of what the public thinks and what vegas wants everyone to see as value, etc.

So, of course, you knew we had to jump in on the biggest thing going on in sports this weekend.  The NBA is too unpredictable day to day because you never know who is going to give 100% effort, who is going to show up, etc, until the playoffs.  In the NCAA Tournament, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what these teams are.

Which works well for us, because, as fans, we feel like we can move on these numbers.

We’re not great at it.

But we do have fun with it.  So let’s see what we can do with it.

Thursday’s games

Michigan (-1.5) vs Oregon

Gary: Oregon +1.5

Chris: Oregon +1.5

People seem to just forget that Oregon has been playing great basketball all year.  Michigan beat Louisville and Oklahoma St after winning the Big 10 Tournament, and they’re playing awesome basketball right now.  But looking at the numbers, the Sweet 16 is generally where upsets start to drop off.  Oregon is the better basketball team.  Michigan is #3 in offensive efficiency, while Oregon is only 16th.  But if you look at defense — Oregon is #25 in defensive efficiency, while Michigan is at #73.  SEVENTY THREE.  I think this will be a high scoring game, but the game is on the West Coast, and I think Oregon will feel more at home, and play better defense.  Gimme the Ducks straight up.

UPDATE: Oregon 69 – Michigan 68

 

Gonzaga (-3.5) vs West Virginia

Gary: West Virginia +3.5

Chris: West Virginia +3.5

Bob Huggins is 1-2 in Sweet 16 games at West Virginia.  But he’s been to a Final Four.  Gonzaga and Mark Few have not.  I don’t have stats to back me up on this, but I get the feeling Gonzaga will be incredibly uncomfortable against WV’s press defense.  I expect a close game, but I think West Virginia pulls this one out, straight up.

UPDATE: Gonzaga 61 – West Virginia 58

 

Kansas (-5) vs Purdue

Gary: Kansas -5

Chris: Purdue +5

Chris doesn’t believe in Bill Self in tournament settings.  And let me be clear – neither do I… but Kansas has the most talent on the floor, by a wide margin.  Purdue is insanely well coached by Matt Painter, but I think, with a week’s worth of rest, that Kansas, in Kansas City, is going to be too overwhelming for the Boilermakers.  I think Kansas handles the 5 with ease.

UPDATE: Kansas 98 – Purdue 66

 

Arizona (-7.5) vs Xavier

Gary: Arizona -7.5

Chris: Arizona -7.5

Sean Miller used to coach at Xavier, before he took the Arizona job.  He’s moved up in the world.  Xavier, under Chris Mack, has now made 4 Sweet 16s in the last 8 years.  Not bad.  But, let’s take a look at this season.  Xavier is #30 at KenPom, and Arizona is #18.  Arizona basically does everything better than Xavier, and they’ve got better players.  Arizona went 32-4, Xavier is now 23-13.  Gimme those Wildcats, and I don’t think it’s close.

UPDATE: Xavier 73 – Arizona 71

 

North Carolina (-7) vs Butler

Gary: UNC -7

Chris: UNC -7

Chris Holtmann has been awesome at Butler.  But I don’t believe Butler has any shot at beating Roy Williams and North Carolina, especially in a tournament setting.  I just went and watched both teams practice down at FedExForum here in Memphis, and the talent discrepancy between these 2 just looks ridiculous when they step on the court.  UNC should handle these guys with ease.

UPDATE: North Carolina 92 – Butler 80

Baylor (-3.5) vs South Carolina

Gary: Baylor -3.5

Chris: South Carolina +3.5

Baylor has been better than South Carolina all year.  I’ve seen teams get hot shooting the ball, but what South Carolina did in the 2nd half against Duke last Sunday (65 points in the 2nd half) is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  Probably because that’s the most points ever put up on Coach K in a half… but still.  I don’t expect that to keep going.  South Carolina, to me, is still the same team that lost twice to Alabama and to Ole Miss in the last 2 weeks of the regular season and the SEC Tournament.  They got hot for 2 games that were played in their own state… but Baylor reminds em who they are in New York.

UPDATE: South Carolina 70 – Baylor 50

UCLA (-1) vs Kentucky

Gary: Kentucky +1

Chris: UCLA -1

I just watched both of these teams practice as well, and I think Kentucky is the more talented and better coached bunch.  And, honestly, I think they win this game with defense.  UCLA came out, ran a few drills, shot a few balls (not many of which were falling), and ended practice 15 minutes early.  Kentucky went the whole time, had fun with each other, had a dunk contest between their players, were laughing… but what caught me is what they opened with – a defensive drill.  And they were going after it.  Nobody all year has accused UCLA of playing defense – and if they don’t defend well against Monk, Fox and the bunch from Lexington, they’ll hang a hundred on em.  I look for this one to be crazy intense, but I think Kentucky is ready for this rematch.

UPDATE: Kentucky 86 – UCLA 75

Florida (-2) vs Wisconsin

Gary: Florida -2

Chris: Wisconsin +2

Florida is #3 at KenPom right now.  Wisconsin is #21.  Wisconsin’s strong point is their #7 defensive efficiency… but Florida’s is #3.  Florida’s offensive efficiency is #26 while Wisconsin’s is 36.  I know Wisconsin played over their heads and beat Villanova in the Round of 32… but how often can a team do that?  Florida has had a week to prepare for Wisconsin, while Nova only had a day.  And seriously, I don’t believe Wisconsin has played a press team all year, and the Gators are great at that.  You saw what they did to Virginia.  I think Florida blasts the Badgers.

UPDATE: Florida 84 – Wisconsin 83 (OT)



Final records:

 Gary: 5 wins, 3 losses

Chris: 5 wins, 3 losses

Not too shabby.

 

About Gary Segars 330 Articles
Gary began his first website in 1998 as a sophomore in high school, writing reviews of cds and live shows in the Memphis area. He became editor of his college newspaper, then moved towards a career in music. He started the infamous MemphisTider.com blog during the 2006 football season, and was lucky enough to get into blogging just before the coaching search that landed Nick Saban at Alabama. The month and a half long coaching search netted his site, which was known for tracking airplanes, over 1 million hits in less than 90 days. The website introduced Gary to tons of new friends, including Nico and Todd, who had just started the site RollBamaRoll.com. After diving into more than just Alabama news, Gary started up his first installment of WinningCuresEverything.com in 2012. After keeping the site quiet for a while, it was started back up in April 2016. Gary then joined forces with high school friend Chris Giannini and began a podcast during the 2016 football season that runs at least 2 times a week, focusing on college football, NFL football, and sports wagering, and diving into other sports and pop-culture topics. E-mail: gary@winningcureseverything.com Twitter: @GaryWCE