So after playing in their practice jerseys during the first game of the conference tournament, the Wolverines won. Efficiency and controlling tempo will be key against North Carolina in the Sweet 16. It's actually been a predictable tournament, which helps make victories by mid-major schools that much sweeter in other years. The Sooners made the Final Four.
That set up a date with Rick Pitino's Louisville team for the right to advance to the Sweet 16 on Sunday afternoon. Both Duke and the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats were eliminated in the Round of 32, leaving No.3 Baylor and No.4 Florida as the region's top teams.
The Midwest also had three of its top four seeds reach the Sweet 16.
The Bruins are a joy to watch, the highest-scoring team in the country, led by fab freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who had 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in a second-round win over Cincinnati.
And of course, Duke lost. No.7 SC is the only other team with worse than 40/1 odds.
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Others with the best updated odds to win the title, per Bovada: North Carolina (5-1), Arizona (13-2), Gonzaga (13-2), UCLA (9-1) and Kentucky (10-1). I picked Gonzaga and Arizona to have a rematch in the Elite 8, and at this point I have no real reason to not believe in my prediction.
In winning percentage, the Pac-12 leads at.889, followed by the SEC's.778, the West Coast's.750 (3-1), the Big 12's.727, the Big Ten's.667, the Big East's.500 (5-5), the ACC's.467, the Atlantic-10's.333 (1-2) and the American's.250 (1-3).
Perimeter play is huge in the NCAA Tournament, and Oregon's tandem of wing Dillon Brooks and shooting guard Tyler Dorsey is as good as it gets. But it's the bottom half of the bracket commanding the most attention with 7-seed MI, possibly the hottest team in the field. Kentucky and UCLA are both loaded with National Basketball Association talent, and it should be exciting. I can talk about the teams that didn't make it that are tough. As far as North Carolina and Butler, Carolina struggled against Arkansas where Butler really hasn't shown vulnerability to this point. In ESPN's Tournament Challenge, only 4.8 percent of brackets chose SC to advance to even the Sweet 16, and only 9.1 percent had Wisconsin doing the same. "We've seen the older guys, they've had that". I have Butler advancing to the Final Four over North Carolina and then Kentucky, due to them showing up in a big way against quality competition.
In the second round, No. 5 seed Virginia lost by 26 points to No. 4 Florida; No. 5 seed Notre Dame lost by 12 to No. 4 West Virginia; No. 3 seed Florida State lost by 26 points to No. 11 Xavier; and No. 2 seed Louisville lost by four to No. 7 MI.
Justin Jackson added 15 points for the Tar Heels (29-7), including the dunk that capped a game-closing 12-0 run by the South Region's No. 1 seed to help it survive a wild game. Stopping Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas is much tougher than stopping Nick Ward, but the overall talent on Kansas' roster should be enough for them to get past Purdue. In that spirit, we've got the tip times and TV schedule for all of the Sweet 16 games upcoming on Thursday and Friday. And, this is one of my three Elite 8 matchups that is still intact, with Kansas facing MI. They have the firepower on offense that Louisville doesn't to be able to match the runs MI will make, and they also have the three best players on the floor (sorry Derrick Walton) in guards Frank Mason and Devonte Graham along with superstar freshman Josh Jackson.