Houston (plus 3) vs Michigan
Houston was able to survive and advance against a solid San Diego State team. Rob Gray is the most explosive guard on the court and should pose problems for a Michigan team that is not used to seeing such a dominant guard in the Big Ten.
Michigan was able to lock down Montana for a 61-47 win on Thursday. Michigan has guards about the same size as Houston's front court. but Gray and Co. are much quicker than anything the Grizzlies had.
Both teams rank in the top 15 in the country in defensive efficiency. Michigan ranks in the top 20 in slowest pace in the nation. Despite that, a heavy percentage of the Wolverines’ shots are 3s.
Peterson’s pick: Fouls and free throws will be key in this one. Houston is in the top 25 in most fouls per game while Michigan is in the bottom 25. Michigan is one of the bottom 20 teams in America in free-throw shooting percentage while Houston is just above average. If this holds to form, it could be what nets Houston a cover and or outright win.
Kentucky (-6) vs Buffalo
Buffalo pulled off one of the more stunning upsets (everyone is behind UMBC, of course) of the first-round by taking down Kentucky, but it will not have the horses to hang with the sheer size of the Wildcats to pull off a second upset.
Kentucky won its first-round game against Davidson without making a single 3-point shot, which was the first time the Wildcats played a game in which it did not convert a 3 in 1047 games.
The Bulls were the opposite, going 15-of-30 from distance in an 89-68 shellacking of Arizona. While Buffalo's four-guard lineup was successful against Kentucky big man Ikenna Smart, it will have its hands full if the MAC Champions use that same starting lineup against a Kentucky squad that has size upon size.
Buffalo held Arizona to 2-of-18 from the 3-point arc and is very good at not letting foes shoot a high percentage from the floor, but do on average allow opponents to shoot 24 free throws per game, which ranks 329th in the country.
Peterson’s pick: The size advantage coupled with frequent trips to the free-throw line should net Kentucky a win and cover.