Duke vs Syracuse Under 133
It's hard to find 133 with this game given the way Syracuse's games have gone recently. In the Orange's three NCAA Tournament wins, the totals have landed on 116, 109, and 108 points.
Duke has also been playing stout defense since switching to a zone in February. The Blue Devils have surrendered more than 70 points on one occasion since losing to North Carolina on the road on Feb. 8, though the squad has posted 80 points or more in five of those 11 contests.
Peterson’s pick: Syracuse's only hope of winning this game is to make it as ugly as possible. Given that Syracuse gets 73 percent of its points from its top three scorers, getting to 133 will be a struggle no matter how prolific Duke's offense is.
Kansas (-5) vs Clemson
Though the Clemson Tigers looked impressive in their dismantling of Auburn, Kansas is a much better 3-point shooting team. Plus Clemson has scuffled down the stretch since Donte Grantham was lost for the season.
The Tigers went 7-6 in 13 regular season games without its second-leading scorer and rebounder, outscoring opponents by less than a point per game in that span. The Tigers have limited depth with only four true scoring options
Clemson is 82nd nationally in offensive efficiency while Kansas is 12th. With Udoka Azubuike back at full speed down low and Mitch Lightfoot making more contributions, any edge Clemson may have had in the post is shrunk.
Peterson’s pick: With Clemson being 167th in 3-point shooting percentage defense and Kansas ranking ninth in 3-point shooting percentage, this game appears to be a mismatch with Kansas having the upper hand.
West Virginia (plus 5) vs Villanova
The Wildcats are the more talented team, but they have never seen anything like the Mountaineers’ full-court press. Though Villanova is eighth in the country in averaging the fewest turnovers per possession, the Wildcats must also deal with the Mountaineers being a stifling team in half-court defense even after the press is broken.
West Virginia is 335th in the country in fouls per game and Villanova is 14th in the country in free-throw shooting percentage, so the Mountaineers will need to be smart about when it fouls to avoid giving the Wildcats free points.
While Villanova has a lot of advantages with its guard play, West Virginia has some forces down low that can swing the tide. The Mountaineers are sixth in the country in percentage of blocks per opponent shots while Villanova does not have a ton of true team size as Jay Wright's crew plays a lot of position-less basketball.
Both teams play at a similar pace in possessions per game. but West Virginia's style tires teams out. Villanova only plays a seven-man rotation; West Virginia's rotation is closer to nine deep.
Peterson’s pick: Both of these squads rank in the top 6 in D1 basketball in first-half scoring margin, and whichever team gets off to the best start should win and cover this one. If the Mountaineers confuse Villanova the way they have so many other teams, the No. 5 seed will be in good shape to pull off the upset.