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Every Single Damn Thing You Need To Get The Juices Flowing For A Loaded First Day Of The Sweet 16

This is the round we need after last week. That's not to say we didn't have moments, we did. But with the lack of upsets and complete mayhem means monster 2nd weekend games. In theory that means we should have those games we lacked for the most part last week. Don't get me wrong Colorado/Florida, Colorado/Marquette, Houston/A&M were awesome. The ending of Yale/Auburn was the mayhem that we look for. But now every game feels like it should come down to the last 2 minutes. That's what we should want and need. 

Schedule

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Bracket

Can I say something honest? The one thing the bizarre 2021 NCAA Tournament had right was the 4 standalone games for the Sweet 16. I wish we still had that. I know people have 'real' jobs, but I'm selfish. I want to focus on each game by itself. Plus instead of two games starting at 9:45 or later, we'd only have one. What if we had tip times of 2:30, 5:30, 8:15 and 10? I wouldn't hate that. Move them up earlier if you really want to too. Either way, that was perfect. 

Order of the best games today

1. Illinois/Iowa State

2. UNC/Alabama

3. Clemson/Arizona

4. UConn/San Diego State

Five Most Entertaining Players Today

This isn't about the best. Every March someone takes over and you can't look away from the screen. Sure, they might be stars, some might be March legends. Either way we always get them and you never know where it's coming from. 

1. Mark Sears (Alabama)

2. Tristen Newton (UConn)

3. Caleb Love (Arizona)

4. Marcus Domask (Illinois)

5. Jaedon LeDee (San Diego State)

Storylines/Preview for each game today

1. National title game rematch

Sure, it's been talked about all week, really since the brackets came out, but we officially have it tonight. UConn vs SDSU rematch from last year's title game. Both fairly different with big time guys returning. Yeah UConn lost Sanogo, Hawkins and Jackson but they look even better this year. That's what happens when Clingan slides into the starting role, Newton takes a jump and you bring in guys like Castle and Spencer. SDSU still has Trammell, Butler and LeDee. I just don't really know the path for SDSU here. 

2. What style wins out

Iowa State/Illinois couldn't be more opposite. Illinois is predicated on booty ball, fast tempo and offense. Iowa State may or may not want to wrestle you for 40 minutes and just beat the shit out of you defensively. Honestly if we had an all-time offense vs all-time defense situation here I wouldn't mind it. I'd watch the hell out of you. This is the most intriguing game of the day for me strictly because of this. 

3. The team who feels like the outlier 

I know NC State is the 11 seed but maybe it's because of DJ Burns or the fact we saw them win the ACC Tournament or we've seen them win a game as a favorite, Clemson feels like the team who 'doesn't belong.' Crazy to say that about a 6 seed, but none of us can really figure them out. They looked good early in the year and then entered the Tournament with losses to Boston College, Wake and Notre Dame in 3 of its last 4 games. Not great! But they are here and that's all that matters. This should be a home game for Arizona in LA. The fans should travel, they should be familiar with LA, etc. This game is going to come down to the 3rd option it feels like. Keshad Johnson is that good of a defender for Arizona. You have Ballo in the paint. Who helps out for Clemson with PJ Hall potentially limited? 

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4. Speed race and Alabama's defense

It's no secret that Alabama's defense is, well, bad. They are still outside the top-100 defensively. Now you're going up against a UNC team that can beat you any which way. Davis was the All-American, Bacot is the dude who has been there for 9 years inside the paint. But Harrison Ingram is the difference maker. He's the perfect 4 in this offense. He'll stretch the defense or go inside on the mismatch. At the same time you gotta respect Ryan's ability to shoot. This should be a track meet. Up and down, the game we want to see in terms of scoring. 

Picks

All odds via DraftKings 

13-8-1 in the first weekend, +4.2 units 

UNC -4.5

Illinois +1.5

SDSU/UConn over 136.5

Clemson +7