Friday's Sweet-16 Game By Game

GAME-BY-GAME PREVIEWS FOR FRIDAY'S SWEET 16 ACTION

Day two of Sweet 16 action brings legendary programs like Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas to the floor. All three are favorites to advance to the Elite Eight. Will the strong survive? Or, is Cinderella about to make a surprise night two visit to the Sweet 16 party? Let's run through the numbers to see how the evening will play out...

SOUTH REGIONAL IN ATLANTA

KENTUCKY (1) VS. INDIANA (4)
Indiana: 8 in Sagarin, 11 in Pomeroy, 4 on offense, 47 on defense
Kentucky: 1 in Sagarin, 2 in Pomeroy, 2 on offense, 9 on defense
Vegas Line: Kentucky by 9, total of 146.5

Everyone knows this is a rematch from earlier in the season. Everyone remembers that Indiana gave Kentucky its only loss of the season up until the final day of the SEC tournament. Tonight's game is in Dixie instead of Bloomington, Indiana though. The market says Kentucky is the much better side. The computers we respect the most suggest it could be closer. Yes, the Wildcats are the best team in the country. Indiana grades out as a composite top ten though...with an efficient offense that probably won't be intimidated by that strong Kentucky defense.

LAST WEEKEND'S BOXSCORES

KENTUCKY 87, IOWA STATE 71
Field Goal Pct: Iowa State 41%, Kentucky 55%
Three-Pointers: Iowa State 3/22, Kentucky 10/20
Free Throws: Iowa State 18/25, Kentucky 15/22
Rebounds: Iowa State 31, Kentucky 40
Turnovers: Iowa State 7, Kentucky 10
Phantom Score: Iowa State 75, Kentucky 82
Vegas Line: Kentucky by 11, total of 142

Kentucky sure posted championship caliber stats against Iowa State last weekend. They dominated shooting percentage, treys, and rebounding. The defense didn't force turnovers...but rushing the other team into missed treys is basically the same thing if you're rebounding well. We don't think the Wildcats can just pencil in 50% shooting on treys the rest of the way. They won Phantom Score anyway, which is a good sign for going deep. That being said...going deep...and winning EVERY game by double digits are different things. Can Kentucky cover a big number if the treys fall back to earth?

INDIANA 63, VCU 61
Field Goal Pct: VCU 40%, Indiana 52%
Three-Pointers: VCU 9/30, Indiana 6/13
Free Throws: VCU 6/13, Indiana 9/11
Rebounds: VCU 20, Indiana 32
Turnovers: VCU 11, Indiana 22
Phantom Score: VCU 48, Indiana 68
Vegas Line: Indiana by 6, total of 140

Indiana is lucky to still be around after rallying from five down late to get past VCU. Sometimes that allows a team to play loose and free because they're playing on borrowed time. Maybe that's what it will take to overcome the revenge factor for Kentucky. We've mentioned a few times recently that Indiana has been shaky away from home this season. We basically saw that vs. VCU, but they won anyway. That creates another volatile matchup...where Indiana can hang in the game or win if they're hitting their treys...but they could lose by 15-20 if the bombs aren't falling. In terms of the straight up victory, Indiana MUST hit treys but Kentucky can win without them. In terms of the cover, you'll have to sign up with JIM HURLEY to get the right side!

 

BAYLOR (3) VS. XAVIER (10)
Xavier: 46 in Sagarin, 49 in Pomeroy, 63 on offense, 55 on defense
Baylor: 12 in Sagarin, 16 in Pomeroy, 12 on offense, 36 on defense
Vegas Line: Baylor by 6, total of 140

Baylor has looked like a top notch team during several stretches of the postseason. On the other hand, they also lose focus and discipline in ways that undermine the effort. They should have squashed South Dakota State...but had to sweat the ending. They only drummed Colorado because of a red hot day on treys. The Bears better take Xavier seriously or this medium favorite won't see the weekend. The computer ratings are pretty much in line with the market price here.

LAST WEEKEND'S BOXSCORES

BAYLOR 80, COLORADO 63
Field Goal Pct: Colorado 45%, Baylor 44%
Three-Pointers: Colorado 5/15, Baylor 11/20
Free Throws: Colorado 12/18, Baylor 13/18
Rebounds: Colorado 48, Baylor 47
Turnovers: Colorado 13, Baylor 10
Phantom Score: Colorado 63, Baylor 68
Vegas Line: Baylor by 8, total of 133

The final score is more impressive than the game was...because the Baylor blowout was basically the result of one guy hitting nine treys all by himself! You can see that Phantom Score was close, against an unimpressive team from a poor conference. Nothing else jumps out except the treys. Baylor does get a lucky draw here in terms of the brackets, drawing a #10 seed in Xavier rather than somebody from the top four spots. Baylor is one of the most intriguing teams remaining. The talent is there to make history. Is the focus there to get past tonight?

XAVIER 70, LEHIGH 58
Field Goal Pct: Lehigh 33%, Xavier 44%
Three-Pointers: Lehigh 3/22, Xavier 7/15
Free Throws: Lehigh 13/20, Xavier 15/21
Rebounds: Lehigh 33, Xavier 39
Turnovers: Lehigh 8, Xavier 13
Phantom Score: Lehigh 69, Xavier 73
Vegas Line: Xavier by 4, total of 139.5

Phantom Score landed on the Vegas number, which means the market had this game pegged correctly. Xavier pulled away late with free throws and desperation from the dog. That 3 of 22 mark from Lehigh is probably something that won't be replicated by any future Xavier opponent for awhile. We weren't that high on the Atlantic 10 entering the postseason...but they sure have put on a show in the NIT. Here in the dance, St. Bonaventure almost took out Florida State, and Xavier snuck through to the second week. This isn't a vintage Xavier squad compared to recent seasons. But, it is one that can stun Baylor if the Bears take their eyes off the ball.

MIDWEST REGIONAL IN ST. LOUIS

NORTH CAROLINA (1) VS. OHIO (13)
Ohio: 55 in Sagarin, 62 in Pomeroy, 88 on offense, 48 on defense
North Carolina: 5 in Sagarin, 7 in Pomeroy, 14 on offense, 11 on defense
Vegas Line: North Carolina by 10.5, total of 142.5

North Carolina catches a break in that their first game without their fallen point guard comes against a #13 seed who had to shoot lights out from long range to advance. That gives the Heels time to get their bearings and figure out how to adjust. The computers give Ohio a clear chance to cover...because double digits is high for that spread in computer rankings when the favorite has a key starter out.

LAST WEEKEND'S BOXSCORES

NORTH CAROLINA 87, CREIGHTON 73
Field Goal Pct: Creighton 41%, N. Carolina 51%
Three-Pointers: Creighton 8/20, N. Carolina 8/16
Free Throws: Creighton 9/12, N. Carolina 13/19
Rebounds: Creighton 34, N. Carolina 43
Turnovers: Creighton 9, N. Carolina 9
Phantom Score: Creighton 74, N. Carolina 93
Vegas Line: North Carolina by 9.5, total of 160

In some ways the stats don't matter because THIS team won't be together again for the rest of the tournament. But, you did see how well Carolina plays against a talented mid major when all the pieces are in place. Creighton was better than Ohio...but not A LOT better given Ohio's energy in this event so far and Creighton's iffy recent history. Honestly, we use information more than numbers in these kinds of situations when handicapping games. What we hear from our on-site sources will determine our play and its strength.

OHIO 62, SOUTH FLORIDA 56
Field Goal Pct: Ohio 40%, S. Florida 44%
Three-Pointers: Ohio 9/18, S. Florida 2/15
Free Throws: Ohio 19/25, S. Florida 14/19
Rebounds: Ohio 25, S. Florida 32
Turnovers: Ohio 8, S. Florida 10
Phantom Score: Ohio 41, S. Florida 68
Vegas Line: South Florida by 2, total of 116

Phantom Score was just a slaughter for South Florida. That's a really bad sign for Ohio because Carolina attacks the basket and tries to beat you with their athletes. Ohio had to win three-point scoring by 21 points just to win the game by six. Equalize that stat...and upgrade the opponent...man that gets scary. South Florida was a #12 seed. Shorthanded Carolina would probably still be better than a #12. Perhaps this is a game we'll pass, or prefer the total. Take care of business Friday afternoon to make sure you're playing the best options on the card!

KANSAS (2) VS. NC STATE (11)
NC State: 35 in Sagarin, 35 in Pomeroy, 31 on offense, 73 on defense
Kansas: 6 in Sagarin, 4 in Pomeroy, 16 on offense, 5 on defense
Vegas Line: Kansas by 8, total of 142.5

NC State has made a big leap in the computers since being a borderline bubble team a few weeks ago. The near-miss win over North Carolina on a neutral court, followed by a win over Georgetown has moved them into the top 40. Can that level beat Kansas? Well, Purdue almost beat Kansas...but Purdue was better than were NC State is at now. Maybe NC State is playing even better than the computer ratings suggest. And, it's possible the Big 12 was a naked emperor this year given the loss/non-covers of Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Texas in this event. Combine all that with the erratic history of the Jayhawks in this event...and anything could happen.

LAST WEEKEND'S BOXSCORES

KANSAS 63, PURDUE 60
Field Goal Pct: Purdue 40%, Kansas 34%
Three-Pointers: Purdue 8/18, Kansas 6/24
Free Throws: Purdue 12/19, Kansas 15/23
Rebounds: Purdue 32, Kansas 35
Turnovers: Purdue 10, Kansas 7
Phantom Score: Purdue 56, Kansas 65
Vegas Line: Kansas by 8, total of 142

Kansas trailed most of the way, and seemed a bit lucky to get the win. But, when you dig closer, you see that they shot horribly the whole game, but still won Phantom Score by more than the Vegas spread while winning the free throw, rebounding, and turnover categories. That's the nature of college basketball boxsores. They help you see strength when it's hiding behind a bad day from the three-point line. And, they help you find weakness when a team hits their treys to hide their blemishes. Kansas is one of few teams playing in the Sweet 16 round that was much better than their "round of 32" score would have suggested.

NC STATE 66, GEORGETOWN 63
Field Goal Pct: NC State 37%, Georgetown 41%
Three-Pointers: NC State 7/15, Georgetown 8/25
Free Throws: NC State 19/31, Georgetown 13/17
Rebounds: NC State 33, Georgetown 29
Turnovers: NC State 10, Georgetown 11
Phantom Score: NC State 59, Georgetown 55
Vegas Line: Georgetown by 4, total of 132

You have to call this a clean win for the Wolfpack. They did shoot well from long range percentage-wise. But, they won Phantom Score...and they did that despite missing too many free throws. State attacked the basket, won rebounding, and won turnovers. And, they did that as a dog against a #3 seed. Needless to say, they have to play that well again to have a chance with Kansas...particularly the Kansas team that's due to regress towards an impressive mean in a bounce back shooting spot.

That wraps up our look at the key stats pertaining to Friday action. Back with you right here in the NOTEBOOK Saturday to preview the first day of the Elite Eight. Don't forget that today is NETWORK'S NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME OF THE YEAR. You can also sign up for the rest of basketball (through the NBA playoffs) with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK by calling 1-800-323-4453.

WINNING BIG MONEY...HOW SWEET IT IS!

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