NCAA College Basketball – March Madness SWEET SIXTEEN FRIDAY Games
Saint Peter’s vs Purdue
Saint Peter’s is the feel good story of the tournament and just the third No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 since the 1985 expansion. They upset No. 2 ranked Kentucky in OT and then led the entire way against Murray State in the second round. The Peacocks have the longest active winning streak in Division 1 at nine games. Saint Peter’s defensive game is their bread and butter and is 9-0 in their last 9 against the spread. Pegged as a national title contender at the start of the season, the cracks have shown in Purdue’s defensive game. They’ve struggled to defend the perimeter, especially against the pick and roll. The offense has outscored their problems with Jaden Ivey and Zach Edey leading the way. The Boilermakers are top ten in both field goal and three-point percentage.
Providence vs Kansas
Riding a 7 game win streak it’s been Ochai Agbaji who has led the Jayhawks all year, averaging almost 20 points per game. Yet in the first two rounds we’ve seen major performances from Remy Martin who is averaging over 17 points per game off the bench. Kansas has a dominant rebound game and they showed it off against Creighton, out rebounding them, 47-31. Providence’s game plan is to grind down opponents until the bitter end and it’s one that has brought them to the Sweet 16. Their defense has kept opponents to less than 60 points in each of the first two rounds. They held the nation’s top 3-point shooting team in South Dakota State to 30% from beyond the arc. Against Richmond, the offense came alive with the Friars shooting 54% from the 3 and five players hitting double digits in scoring.
North Carolina vs UCLA
We saw North Carolina give away a 25 point lead against Baylor only to come away with a gutsy OT victory. Brady Manek has averaged over 25 points in each of his last 2 games and is part of a high-powered Tar Heels offense that can shoot with the best of them. They’ve put up 90 points in each of the first two rounds and if the defense can continue to help the offense, we could see North Carolina go on a run. With the health of Jaime Jaquez Jr. up in the air, the Bruins could be without one of their more reliable defenders and possibly their most versatile scorer. If he’s out UCLA will be looking for offense from players like Johnny Juzang and Tyger Campbell who are both averaging double digits in points. The Bruins shot over 56% from the field and finished 4 for 9 from beyond the arc against the Gaels.
Iowa State vs Miami
Iowa State has been excellent defensively, ranking sixth in turnover percentage and 15th in 3-point percentage allowed during the regular season. On offense, they have Izaiah Brockington who is the heart and soul of this team, averaging over 17 points per game. Miami has relied on its offense to out-shoot its problems defensively. The Canes are led by Kameron McGusty—who averages over 17 points per game – and Isaiah Wong who puts up nearly 16 points. After beating Auburn by 18 points in the second round, the Hurricanes believe they can beat anybody, which is the attitude they’ll need if they want to get out of the Sweet 16.
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