Michigan vs. Kansas: This might be the best of the Sweet 16 matchups from a purely competetive standpoint. Michigan projects more as a high 3, low 2 than a 4 seed and Kansas is probably a 2 seed. KenPom favors Michigan by a 1 point with only a 51% win probability. That's a virtual toss-up.
Michigan is 11th best in the nation in offensive effecive fg%. Kansas is 1st in defensive effective fg%. Michigan shoots 37.5 from 3. Opponents of the Jayhawks shoot 30.2%. Michigan shoots 53.8% from 2, Kansas is the best at defending the 2 and is 3 in the nation in block %. Michigan does not go to the foul line at all. KU doesn't send teams there. Michigan doesn't turn it over, the best at protecting the ball with the nation's best offensive turnover %. KU doesn't force many. Michigan is so-so on the offensive glass and Kansas is better on the defensive glass. Can Michigan hit some shots from 3? They don't solely rely on the 3, scoring well inside the arc. Watch how the Wolverines are shooting from deep. I think they'll have to do that effectively.
Kansas does everything pretty well on the offensive end but nothing spectacular. They have one glaring issue and that's the turnover. They're offensive turnover % is 201st in the land. Michigan, though, doesn't force a lot of turnovers. Their defensive turnover % is 237th in the land. KU gets to the line at a decent clip but Michigan typically doesn't foul a lot. Even with Withey, Michigan should be okay on the boards. The question will be, do they have someone that can defend Withey? Their best defender is Jordan Morgan and he hasn't played much since the regular season. As good as Mitch McGary was last week, VCU's Jevonte Reddic was 7-11 from the field. What Michigan will want to do is, make it hard for KU to get the ball inside. In the 1st half against UNC, KU turned the ball over a lot, many times on entry passes to Withey. In the second half, those issues disappeared. Michigan will want to force some turnovers and pressure the ball handlers.
This is a coin-flip game based on the numbers. Kansas needs to stay committed to getting paint touches and protecting the ball. Michigan needs to pressure the ball and take advantages of open looks and get Withey away from the basket. It should be an excellent game
Pick: Michigan 69 Kansas 68
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida: I'd do a statistical breakdown but the numbers favor Florida by 19 with a 95% win probability. Florida plays like FGCU but with better players. Yes, FGCU could win this game and truly shock the world but I don't see it. I think they hang around for 30 minutes but the Gators run away at the end.
Pick: Florida 85 Florida Gulf Coast 70
Louisville vs. Oregon: Both teams are coming off impressive opening weekends. Oregon proved those who called their seeding a joke, right. They also beat St. Louis by doing something they don't usually do. They hit a lot of 3's. Can they do it against the Cards?
You want a red flag from the get-go for the Ducks? They're 264th in turnover % on offense. Now, some of that has to do with Dominic Artis being out but still. Louisville is 2nd in the land in defensive turnover % and their steal % is 16.3%, 2nd best. Think Oregon needs to protect the ball? Oregon has an offensive rebounding % that is 46th best. Louisville is 242nd on defensive rebounding %. Lot of that has to do with their pressure d. VCU has very similar numbers. Oregon has to protect the ball and take advantage of any second chance opportunities.
As bad as Louisville is on the defensive glass, they're 14th best in the land with an offensive rebounding % of 38.5%. But, the Ducks are pretty good at eliminating offensive boards. They are 25th in defensive rebounding %. Oregon has to win this battle. It's a push on turnovers. Louisville is a litle loose with the ball but rarely do they allow the opposition get steals. Their offensive steal % is 8.4%, 39th best. Louisville has plenty of weapons on offense. It'll be difficult for Oregon to stop everyone.
Louisville will and is an overwhelming favorite in this game. They may be playing the best basketball of anyone in the nation. Big deficits haven't phased them and they have the type of depth you saw on those prime Pitino Kentucky teams. Oregon will have to be as good as they were against St. Louis and I don't see them repeating that. Typically, they shoot 33.2 from deep, 203rd in the country. They shot 73% last Saturday while holding SLU to a paltry 14%. They'll be hard-pressed to do that again and even more glaring, they had 18 turnovers against SLU. Repeat that and they are toast.
Pick: Louisville 73 Oregon 62
Duke vs. Michigan State: I typically don't check the numbers of real good teams like Duke or Michigan State through the course of the season. They're good. They're always good. I'll only look at them if they're struggling. Found some interesting things here and explains a few things, too.
Duke has improved dramatically on defense this year. They were 70th in the nation in AdjustedD in 2012 and 22 this year. They're 11th best at defending the 3 (Ask Creighton how good they are) but 102nd on 2's. Overall, they're defensive FG% is 45th best. You'd think this will give Michigan State an advantage inside in scoring but Duke actually shoots better, abeit not by much from 2. Michigan State turns the ball over ALOT for an elite team. They're 238th in the land on offensive turnover% but Duke typically doesn't force a lot of turnovers. They'll want to take advantage of Sparty's looseness with the ball. Sparty will destroy them on the glass, though. If Duke can be more effective on the defensive glass, Michigan State will struggle to score.
Duke is a joy to watch on offense. They protect the ball and shoot well. They're 5th in 3-point shooting making 40% and shoot 51.3% from 2. Michigan State protects the arc. Teams only shoot 29.8%, 17th best. They're not as stingy inside the 3-point line but still good, holding teams to 44.3%. Duke is a terrible rebounding team on offense while Michigan State does a good job on the defensive glass. Michigan State needs to harass Duke's shooters and dominate the glass.
This'll be an interesting matchup. I think Duke is the better squad and the fact they've been better on defense should give them a slight edge. I don't trust Sparty enough on offense and think Duke pulls it out. Could go either way, though and a Sparty win won't shock me nor should it shock you.
Pick: Duke 66 Michigan State 60
On offense, Dukeis usually