NCAA March Madness Sweet 16 Preview- East Region

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 19 Div I Men’s Championship – Second Round – Murray State v Saint Peter’s
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 19: Saint Peter’s Peacocks guard Matthew Lee (15) celebrates on the court during the NCAA Division I MenÕs Basketball Championship Round 2 game between the Murray State Racers and Saint Peters Peacocks on March 19, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

When looking at the different regions of the NCAA tournament bracket, it is clear that the East region has the most surprises left. Top-seeded Baylor was knocked out by North Carolina in the round of 32, while number two seeded Kentucky was unable to make it out of the opening round. Purdue (No. 3) is the highest-seeded team remaining in the bracket, which could indicate this is an open region for who can win it. Purdue and Saint Peters will face off on Friday at 7:10, while UNC and UCLA will tip off at 9:40.

UNC (8) vs. UCLA (4)

Despite not being recognized in the top tier of college basketball for most of this season, these two blue blood programs will cruise into the NCAA Sweet 16 for a matchup in Philadelphia. UNC produced an impressive 95-63 victory over Marquette in round one before taking down top-seeded Baylor by a score of 93-86 in the round of 32.

This victory over Baylor was crazy to watch as UNC led by 25 points in the second half before star player Brady Manek was ejected from the game with a flagrant 2. Manek already had 26 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 4-8 on 3PA. The game totally changed without them as Baylor was able to storm back and push the game to overtime. Ultimately, UNC still came out on top, but without Manek, they were close to having one of the all-time great collapses.

UCLA comes into this game hot after their 72-56 win over 5th seeded Saint Mary’s, who was arguably the most impressive defensive team in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins are an experienced bunch who are top 5 in the country when it comes to taking care of the ball, and they compete on both sides of the ball. UNC likely has the advantage in overall talent but don’t expect this UCLA team to back down to anyone. They play connected, rebound effectively, play good defense, and knockdown free throws. 

The line favors UCLA by 2 points, with the over-under set at 141.5 currently.

NCAA Betting Lines

Per Draft Kings, the UCLA Bruins are the favorites to win tonight’s matchup.

  • Spread: UCLA -2
  • UCLA Moneyline: -140
  • North Carolina Moneyline: +120
  • O/U: 141.5
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Purdue (3) vs. Saint Peters (15)

The Saint Peter’s Peacocks have been the Cinderella story of the NCAA tournament as they are only the third 15 seed to make it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament’s history. Pulling upsets over 2nd seeded Kentucky and 7th seeded Murray State, The Peacocks allow the 19th fewest points per game in college basketball and hold teams to the second-fewest field goal attempts. Led by 3-time MAAC DPOY KC Ndefo, Saint Peters will have to stick to this defensive identity if they want this run to continue.

Purdue will be the toughest task of the tournament, largely due to their massive size advantage. The Boilermakers player through 7’4 Zach Edey and 6’10 Trevion Williams, who both are effective post players. Purdue beat Yale (No. 14) 78-56 and cruised past Texas (No. 6) 81-71 in the round of 32. Jaden Ivey is also a player to watch due to his explosive ability and pace with the ball.

This will be a matchup that Saint Peters will need to defend extremely hard and shoot the ball effectively to stay in. No one in Saint Peters’ starting lineup is over 6’7, and if they can withstand this height difference could be where the game is won or lost. 

Purdue is favored by 12.5 points which is the largest spread of any of the Sweet 16 games. The over-under is set at 136.5, and if you believe it, Saint Peter’s story to keep being written their Moneyline is +650.

NCAA Betting Lines

Per Draft Kings, the Purdue Boilermakers are the favorites to win tonight’s matchup.

  • Spread: Purdue -12.5
  • Purdue Moneyline: -1000
  • Saint Peter’s Moneyline: +650
  • O/U: 136.5
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Odds to Win Region

Despite the regions seeming somewhat open for who can advance to the NCAA’s Final Four, Vegas favors Purdue fairly heavily. Purdue is listed as -120 favorites, with UCLA as the second-lowest odds at +220. UNC is third in the odds at +380, while the line indicates it is pretty certain that the Saint Peters run will come to an end. The Peacocks hold +3000 odds to win the East, which would make them the first 15 seed to ever accomplish this feat.

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