A Guide to the March Madness Sweet 16

March 28, 2019 - 10:24 am
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There's an upside to the calm lack of upsets we witnessed in the first week of the NCAA Tournament: The remaining 16 teams are something very close to the 16 best teams in men's college basketball. And it should make for a confectionary Sweet 16.

The East and West regions still boast their top four seeds; in the Midwest, it's 1, 2, 3 and 5. And the superpowers are all here: Duke and North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky, Michigan and Michigan State, even Gonzaga, which long since surrendered its rights to Cinderella status.

Here is a guide to the eight games of the Sweet 16:

THURSDAY

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 Florida State, 7:09 p.m. ET
West Region, Anaheim
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Line*: Gonzaga -7.5

Florida State, which has rallied around teammate Phil Cofer following the death of his father, made light work of Ja Morant's Murray State in the Round of 32. The Seminoles move up several weight classes here. Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke had 36 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in their second-round win.

No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Purdue, 7:29 p.m. ET
South Region, Louisville
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Listen: whip-around coverage on KFH or KILT (joined in progress)
Line: Tennessee -1.5

The closest matchup of the round on paper. Tennessee, one of the tournament's more experienced teams, squandered a 25-point lead before escaping the second round. Purdue guard Carsen Edwards has 68 points though two games.

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, 9:39 p.m. ET 
West Region, Anaheim
Watch: Stream Live on fuboTV
Listen: whip-around coverage on KFHWFAN or KILT
Line: Michigan -2

First team to 60 wins? The top two defenses in the country, per Ken Pomeroy. Michigan stifled Florida (34 percent shooting) to win their second-round game going away, despite getting just five points from Ignas Brazdeikis. Jarrett Culver and Texas Tech held Buffalo to 58 points in a Round 2 rout.

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 12 Oregon, 9:57 p.m. ET 
South Region, Louisville
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Listen: whip-around coverage on KFHWFAN or KILT
Line: Virginia -8.5

Oregon can expect a new level of resistance in Virginia's famed pack-line defense, which ranks third nationally. Mamadi Diakite has been the Cavaliers' breakout contributor through two games. Virginia still needs two more wins to absolve last year's UMBC catastrophe.

FRIDAY

No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 LSU, 7:09 p.m. ET
East Region, Washington D.C.
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Listen: whip-around coverage on WFANKFH or KILT (joined in progress)
Line: Michigan State -6

LSU's lack of a coach -- Will Wade is suspended indefinitely -- wasn't too much of a problem in a thrilling second-round win over Maryland on a last-gasp Tremont Waters layup. On the other side of the spectrum is highly visible and vocal Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whose Spartans ran Minnesota out of the gym. Izzo vs. Coach K potentially looms in the Elite 8.

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Auburn, 7:29 p.m. ET
Midwest Region, Kansas City
Watch: Stream Live on fuboTV
Listen: whip-around coverage on WFANKFH or KILT (joined in progress)
Line: North Carolina -5

North Carolina's offense, ranked No. 8 in the country, meets its match in Auburn's No. 6-ranked unit, though the Tar Heels like to play at a faster pace. Auburn got to 89 points against Kansas, led by Bryce Brown's 25. North Carolina hung 81 on Washington, with four players in double figures.

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech, 9:39 p.m. ET 
East Region, Washington D.C.
Watch: Stream Live on fuboTV
Listen: whip-around coverage on WFANKFH or KILT
Line: Duke -7.5

Virginia Tech knocked off Duke on Feb. 26 ... by five points ... at home ... when Duke was without Zion Williamson. Was Duke's oh-so-narrow second-round escape -- Central Florida had two potential game-winners roll off the rim -- a warning sign or a beneficial little hiccup on the way to glory for a terrific freshman class. Williamson has been as good as advertised.

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Houston, 9:57 p.m. ET 
Midwest Region, Kansas City
Watch: Stream Live on fuboTV
Listen: whip-around coverage on WFANKFH or KILT
Line: Kentucky -3

Houston, led by Kelvin Sampson to 33 wins and counting, makes its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1984, the Phi Slama Jama days. John Calipari's Kentucky team is looking for its first Elite 8 berth since 2017. The Wildcats struggled to put away Wofford in the second round, and could use PJ Washington back from a foot injury.

*Lines via The Action Network

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