NCAA Tournament Survivor Guide For the Sweet 16 (Friday)

Mar 22, 2022 - 9:13 PM

In a year where four double-digit seeds made the Sweet 16, you should be commended if you are still alive in your survivor pools at this point. But, as if getting to this point did not take much planning, now the real fun begins.

In the first round, one had 32 teams to choose from over the two days. For the next two days, there will be less than eight teams to choose from, given that some of the teams have already been utilized. So now is when survivor pool contestants have to master the trade of picking teams to advance, but not teams that will go too far so that there are still available selections once we get to the Final Four and beyond.

Throughout the tournament, one has to make eight picks: two from the First Round (one for each day played), two from the Second Round (one for each day played), and one from the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and National Championship.

As we did in the Round of 32, we rank all four Thursday games in order of most confidence to least confidence and provide a short narrative for each.

Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their Sweet 16 matchups on Friday (odds courtesy of BettingPros consensus).

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Best Picks in Order of Most-to-Least Confidence

Purdue -910

Many could not wait to pounce on using Murray State in survivor pools once Saint Peter’s upset Kentucky, thinking the Racers would not have issues beating the No. 15 seed Peacocks in the Round of 32. Though the Peacocks have impressed in their improbable Cinderella run to the Sweet 16, survivor pool contestants must seriously consider using Purdue, especially since the Boilermakers seemingly face tough competition in the Elite Eight and beyond. What should give bettors confidence in Purdue beating Saint Peter’s is that the Peacocks have no way to prepare for the 7’4” Zach Edey. In addition, the Boilermakers have one of the best zone offenses in college basketball, so Saint Peter’s will likely have to play more man-to-man defense than it would like. A No. 15 seed has never made the Elite Eight, so history is also on your side if you are backing Purdue.

Kansas -360

The Jayhawks easily have the least challenging path to a Final Four of all the remaining No. 1 seeds, needing to beat Providence and whatever double-digit seed wins the Miami-Iowa State game to get there. However, by that logic, one would be better off picking Purdue (if they are still available) and then using Kansas in the Elite Eight round when the pickings are slimmer.

Miami -139

If one correctly identifies the winner of the Miami-Iowa State game and dares to use them in survivor pools, they would gain a massive edge on the competition. Neither team projects to be favored in any game against any opponent left in the tournament, thus making their availability useless if one does not select them in survivor pools now. Miami is favored in large part because of its trio of guards (Charlie Moore, Kameron McGusty, Isaiah Wong), whose ability to create off the dribble came in handy against taller teams like USC and Auburn. However, according to KenPom’s metrics, Iowa State is predicted to win the game 68-67, making this game a true coin flip.

UCLA -143

If you could guarantee me that UCLA star forward Jaime Jaquez is active and will not be hampered by an ankle injury that kept him out for much of the second half in the team’s win over Saint Mary’s, I would have the Bruins higher up on this confidence list. However, Jaquez looked like a player who would be kept out of this game against North Carolina if this were a regular-season game, and thus the Bruins offense may take on a different identity if he is not 100%. Arguably no team has looked better through the first two rounds than North Carolina, who beat Marquette by 32 and held a 25-point lead over defending champion Baylor before questionable officiating made that game closer than it arguably should have been. The winner of this game has a very winnable game in the Elite Eight against the Purdue-Saint Peter’s winner, so it might be wiser to save either team as a sneaky play next round.

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