Kansas State (-10) vs UMBC
UMBC is the nation's darling, coming off of perhaps the biggest upset in college basketball history as the Retrievers ousted Virginia on Friday. After the jubilation, the automatic qualifiers from the America East may not be ready for the 48-hour turnaround to face Kansas State.
The Wildcas play at one of the slowest paces in the tournament and have a clear size advantage over UMBC. Virginia had size, its top three scorers were all primarily 3-point shooters. Kansas State may not have the services of 6-foot-10 Dean Wade.
The 16.5 points per game scorer missed the Wildcats’ win over Creighton and, as of Saturday night, was ruled questionable for this one.
Both teams do a pretty good job of not turning the ball over, so execution on both ends of the floor will be key. Kansas State my not have a ton of depth with Wade out, but will still be the team more likely to dictate the pace. Though UMBC is in the top 40 in the nation in 3-point shooting, the Retrievers will be facing longer guards than its used to seeing.
Peterson's pick: Entering Sunday, teams seeded 13 or higher are 6-17 against the spread in the Round of 32. The Wildcats will uphold this trend if they play the way they have of late.
Marshall (plus 12.5) vs West Virginia
This long-awaited intrastate battle is a contrast in styles. Marshall plays at the fastest pace of any team left in the tournament while West Virginia relies on a full court press that can be stifling.
Marshall has the nation’s leading shot blocker on its side in Ajden Penava, who by himself has more blocks than over 250 D1 teams. He will have his hands full down low though against a West Virginia front line that is taller and more athletic than anything he faced in Conference USA this season.
The battle of Jon Elmore and Jevon Carter is also worth watching. Elmore is Marshall's point guard in a frenetic offense and is averaging nearly 23 points, six rebounds, and seven assists per game. Carter, on the other hand, is West Virginia’s top scorer and is one of the nation’s best all-around defenders.
Peterson's pick: If Marshall can avoid turning the ball over too much, which it did for the most part this season, it should cover and has an outside chance to win outright despite having the worst defensive efficiency rate of any team still in the tournament.