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March Madness – Friday Sweet 16 Picks

With half of the Elite Eight determined by the outcome of Thursday’s games it’s time to decide the other half. Unlike the other regions, the Midwest and South both have No. 1 seeds still playing with Alabama and Houston advancing to the second weekend. Both take on No. 5 seeds in their respective games, and with the number of upsets we’ve already seen in the Tournament, are those two safe? The Crimson Tide kickoff Friday’s Sweet 16 matchups against San Diego State with Houston taking on the Miami Hurricanes.

Both top seeds are laying around 7-points, but they aren’t even the biggest favorites on Friday’s board. It’s rare to see a 15-seed reach the Sweet 16 and even rarer to see that team advance to the Elite Eight. The Princeton Tigers can match what Saint Peters did last year but they are a big underdog against Creighton to do so catching 9.5-points. Lost in the madness of No. 1 seeds and the emergence of Princeton, Xavier and Texas took care of business in the earlier rounds to set up a meeting between the No. 2 and No. 3 seed. Two experienced teams that can score the basketball should put on a show.

Alabama Crimson Tide ( -7.5 ) vs. San Diego State Aztecs

The best team doesn’t always win, just ask Purdue and Arizona about that. Alabama is arguably the best squad remaining with the best player in Brandon Miller. How good is Bama? Well, they routed Texas AM Corpus Christi 94-76 in the first round despite Miller being held without a point. The Tide was favored by 24 and never threatened so I guess if your leading scorer is dropping a goose egg that’s the time to do it. Bama has no trouble scoring getting at least 72 points in each of their last five outings that included three SEC Tournament games. They averaged nearly 83 points during the season. The Aztecs have a chance mainly because they play stingy defense. Controlling the pace is key and I can see guys like Miller, Jahvon Quinerly and Charles Bediako getting frustrated. In the end Bama’s talent will prevail in a game closer than most expect.

Sweet 16 Pick: San Diego State +7.5

Alabama Crimson Tide ( -7.5 ) vs. San Diego State Aztecs

Getting the Cougars at or close to 100 percent is trouble for Miami. There were concerns entering the Tournament when Marcus Sasser sustained a groin injury in the AAC tournament that forced him to miss the title game, which the Cougars lost big to Memphis. Sasser seemed fine in the second round win over Auburn scoring 22 points hitting 5 of 9 threes. This is kind of a revenge tour for Sasser, who’s averaging 17 points this season, and starting guard Tramon Mack. They both missed the Tournament last year preventing the Cougs from reaching the Final Four. Miami is built a lot like Houston with athletic wing players who fly up and down the court, but Houston’s balance on both ends of the floor will have them in the next round.

Sweet 16 Pick: Houston -7

Princeton Tigers vs. Creighton Bluejays ( -9.5 )

Lesser conferences and as a result the best teams in them never seem to get the respect they deserve come Tournament time. So it’s up to teams like FAU and Princeton to show everyone that the little guy is sometimes just as big. In two games the Tigers showed how versatile they are upsetting Arizona 59-55 in the opener then erupting in a 78-63 win over Missouri. The Tigers are 6-0 SU and ATS in their last six games. Creighton is healthy and hungry after last year’s loss to eventual champion Kansas. Led by Ryan Kalkbrenner, who averages 15.7 points, all five starters average in double figures while playing more than 29 minutes. And the Bluejays are rolling at the right time winning 14 of their past 18 games.

Sweet 16 Pick: Creighton -9.5

Xavier Musketeers vs. Texas Longhorns ( -4 )

The teams are fairly evenly matched as evidenced by their seedings. Texas responded to the firing of coach Chris Beard in January rallying around interim Rodney Terry thanks to an experienced core featuring leading scorer Marcus Carr. The Horns are among the top 10 in adjusted offense and defensive efficiency giving them an edge against a Xavier team that inexplicably takes time off defensively during games. Their athleticism allowed the Musketeers to overcome giving up 84 points to DePaul in the Big East tournament and an early 10-point deficit to Kennesaw State in the first round. I don’t think Xavier will be as fortunate against a team as good as Texas.

Sweet 16 Pick: Texas -4

View today’s March Madness betting odds.

Jake Flynn
Jake Flynn
Senior writer for Writes NBA, NCAA basketball, MLB, UFC and daily fantasy sports articles.

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