Friday’s Sweet 16 Preview

Day two of the Sweet 16 tips off tonight with four more big matchups tonight, with the potential for two terrific Elite Eight matchups looking to be in the realm of possibility. Tonight will also be the last time we get multiple games going on at the same time, so enjoy the last night of multiple-screen viewing. Now let’s dive into the matchups.

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-7.5) vs #5 San Diego State Aztecs

6:30 PM ET on TBS

Alabama has been the best team in the sport and has looked like it by rolling into the Sweet 16 with no real challenge. That could change though as San Diego State will be the best team they will face as the Aztecs have rolled into the Sweet 16. The Crimson Tide have a great roster of depth, talent, and a star in Brandon Miller, who is looking to make a Carmelo Anthony-type title run. The Aztecs have one of the more complete rosters, they have size up front to match up with anyone, while Matt Bradley and Darrion Trammell make a dynamic backcourt. 

San Diego State is built to make games ugly, as they’ve done all throughout this recent stretch. Mensah and Arop will sway away shots on the interior, while they have elite positional size to shut down any team they go against. The question comes down to the Aztecs’ scoring, which is largely reliant on Matt Bradley and Darrion Trammell in the backcourt, however, when the Aztecs have had issues it’s a lack of scoring that does it. Alabama can beat you in so many ways, obviously with the elite talent led by Brandon Miller. They have great guard scoring with Quinerly, Sears, and Bradley. They have an abundance of depth with plenty of role players ready to contribute off the bench. The Aztecs will make this ugly and might be able to hang around longer than most but at the end of the day, Alabama just has enough to pull out a win.

Pick: Alabama 65 San Diego State 60

ATS Pick: San Diego State +7.5

#1 Houston Cougars (-7.5) vs #5 Miami Hurricanes 

7:15 PM ET on CBS

Houston has been the dominant force in the sport, while Miami is filled with one of the best backcourts in the sport. Houston is one of the toughest, physical teams in the sport, this program is built on winning all the 50-50 balls and dominating on defense. What makes this team different is their offense with an elite guard combination of Sasser, Shead, and Mark, which gives this team a good chance to win it all. Miami is built on style, they have an elite duo of Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack to bring in elite-level shotmaking, which is so big in March.

Miami will have to execute a perfect game plan to beat Houston. They will need to make those tough shots but more than anything, they have to play even on the glass, Norchad Omier and Jordan Miller will have to play bigger than their size. If they do that, they at least will give themselves a chance. At the end of the day, Houston might just have too much to win this game. Shead and Sasser makeup what might be the best backcourt in the sport, Tramon Mark and Jarace Walker have proven an ability to step up if needed, while they are elite size-wise. Miami can keep this close for 20-30 minutes, I just don’t think they have enough to win a 40-minute game. 

Pick: Houston 72 Miami 59

ATS Pick: Houston -7.5

#6 Creighton Blue Jays (-10) vs #15 Princeton Tigers

9:00 PM ET on TBS

Princeton is an example of what makes March great, a plucky 15-seed bands together to make the Sweet 16 by knocking off the giants of the sport. The Tigers have done so by being one of the best defenses in the Tournament but the Princeton offense of cutting and back cutting is the typical Princeton way. Creighton looks like a title contender, the Blue Jays have a perfect starting five with good players at all five positions. 

Princeton will look to keep this game relatively low-scoring, which they have proven the ability to do. While Tosan Evbuomwan will look to carve the defense up with his versatility. At the end of the day, Creighton probably just has too much. Nembhard and Alexander can create offense at a high level, Scheierman is able to knock down shots at an extremely high level. Add to that, Kalkbrenner being able to impact the game on both ends and this Blue Jays team should be too much for Princeton to keep up with.

Pick: Creighton 81 Princeton 64

ATS Pick: Creighton -10

#2 Texas Longhorns (-4) vs #3 Xavier Musketeers 

9:45 PM ET on CBS

Texas came into this season with high expectations but with a midseason coaching change, things looked dire, instead, the Longhorns have gathered around Rodney Terry to win the Big 12 Tournament and get to the Sweet 16. Their opponent Xavier is finally living up to expectations after the incompetent Travis Steele is out, Sean Miller has taken over to lead Xavier back to the Second Weekend in year one. Texas is built on depth, they have good guard play, versatility, and good bigs, while they play elite defense. Xavier plays an entertaining brand of basketball, having big shot makers in Souley Boum and Colby Jones, while doing just enough on the defensive end. 

The Musketeers’ plan of attack will be by being unselfish offensively, Boum and Jones can create for themselves and the rest of the roster. Kunkel can space the floor, while Jack Nunge will provide inside offense. The problem is their defense which is susceptible to get exploited but they can hang with anyone. Texas is a complete team, Marcus Carr and Jabari Rice can get buckets in a hurry at the guard spot. Timmy Allen and Dylan Disu can go down low and score, while the Longhorns are built on defense and depth. The Musketeers certainly will get their offense and are capable of an upset but Texas is the more complete team and is my pick to advance.

Pick: Texas 73 Xavier 67

ATS Pick: Texas -4

YTD: 344-315

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