The first weekend of the tournament is behind us and it’s safe to say that it was one of the most wild first weekends ever. The left side of the bracket has turned into such a mess that it’s guaranteed that no higher than a three seed will be in the championship game. After this weekend, we will know the teams in the Final Four so let’s take a look ahead at the three best bets of the Sweet Sixteen.
by Nick Stasiak – Wannamakeabet Staff Writer
Kentucky (-5.5) vs Kansas State
Right after the bracket was revealed, John Calipari was complaining that his Wildcats got the toughest draw out of every team. They then got a break not having to play Arizona in the second round and everything else broke in the region perfectly for Kentucky. The highest possible seed they can play before the Final Four is seven. Kentucky is starting to play good and they’ve gotten a good break. Meanwhile, Kansas State barely got by a 16 seed that only scored 43 points. Kentucky has too much talent and Calipari won’t let this opportunity slip away.
The Pick: Kentucky -5.5
Villanova (-5) vs West Virginia
I don’t think there is any doubt who the best team of the first weekend was and that is Villanova. In a game against Alabama that many thought could give them problems, the Wildcats dominated. Throughout both games they shot great from three and their defense is starting to play at another level. And lucky for Villanova, they got almost a full week to prepare for the West Virginia press. West Virginia thrives by turning people over but something will have to give in this game. West Virginia ranks 10th in the country in forced turnovers but Villanova ranks 13th in the country in fewest turnovers per game. I think Villanova’s guard play, led by Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, will be good enough to break the press and find open shots all game long.
The Pick: Villanova -5
Purdue (-1.5) vs Texas Tech
Let’s stay in the East region for the final pick. This will no doubt be a good game between two equally matched teams. Both are led by good points guards, Keenan Evans for Texas Tech and Carsen Edwards for Purdue. Both teams also rank in the top 30 in points allowed per game. Something that could drastically change this game is the injury to Isaac Haas. Haas fractured his right elbow in the first game and is unlikely to play for the rest of the tournament. This is an advantage that Purdue could have had that isn’t there anymore. I liked Texas Tech in the game prior to the Haas injury and now I feel a little safer taking them. It will be a close game that gets decided late, but give me Tech.
The Pick: Texas Tech +1.5