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Previewing the Auburn/Clemson and UMBC/Kansas State Round of 32 Games

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We’re onto the Round of 32 and the scheduling gets weird here. You have two games pretty much stand on their own to start us off and then from 5-8:00 it’s multi-screen time and keeping up with numerous games at once. So with that in mind I’ll be changing up how I do the previews. I’ll do the first one standing alone and then break it up to either 2 or 4 games at a time. 

No. 4 Auburn vs No. 5 Clemson – 7:10, TBS
Line: Auburn -2

I’ll be honest. I was wrong about these teams. I thought Clemson would struggle against New Mexico State’s defense and length while Auburn would be matched by Charleston’s big three. Ultimately both teams held on and now are playing for the right to go to Omaha. Key to watch in this game is the tempo. Auburn wants to push tempo, get up and down the court, playing 80 possessions. They run that matchup zone, jump passes and then on offense look to penetrate and kick. Another huge key for Clemson here is how well it rebounds the ball defensively. Despite not having a lot of size, Auburn is a great offensive rebounding team. That mostly falls on DeSean Murray and Chuma Okeke, but Clemson ranks in the top-75 in defensive rebounding. Clemson is going to have to limit Auburn in transition – something that Clemson has excelled at this year. They aren’t going to send a bunch of peopel to the offensive glass and will continue to try and slow pace. That’s the reason I like Clemson here.
Bracket pick: Clemson
ATS pick: Clemson

No. 9 Kansas State vs No. 16 UMBC – 7:45 pm, TruTV
Line: Kansas State -10.5

Well, here we are. Kansas State vs UMBC for a trip to the Sweet 16, just like we all expected. That said, UMBC absolutely can win this game and keep it close. They will do what they did against Virginia, which is try to get Jarius Lyles cooking. What makes him tough is, yes, you think of him as a shooter but he absolutely will take you off the dribble as well to get to the rim and can finish in the paint. That said, Kansas State can throw a couple of different looks on Lyles. They’ll throw Barry Brown, Cartier Diarra and possibly even someone like Xavier Sneed on him. We saw what they did with the likes of Trae Young early in conference play, mixing up some regular man, some matchup zone looks. It’s really unique. What also makes this defense so important – Kansas State forces a ton of live ball turnovers. They rank 6th in the country in steal percentage, leading to easy run out points. That’s what Kansas State needs to get today and needs to get it early, especially since UMBC is one of the most turnover prone teams in the country.
Bracket pick: Kansas State
ATS pick: UMBC

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