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Previewing the Kentucky/Kansas State and Gonzaga/Florida State Sweet 16 Games


We’ve made it to the Sweet 16, which is always an awesome weekend, but still feels like a weird setup. That’s only because my dumb brain can’t comprehend we’re done with daytime basketball, something that often makes me upset. Regardless we’ll go on with the previews, this time going two at a time based on the time slots of games. 

No. 5 Kentucky vs No. 9 Kansas State – 9:37 pm, CBS, Atlanta
Line: Kentucky -5.5

Feels like a repetitive question here, especially when Kentucky plays, but it’s valid here. Can Kansas State keep Kentucky off the offensive glass? Kansas State is one of the worst defensive rebounding teams (ranking 307th in the country). Kentucky? Yeah, they are pretty good on the offensive glass, ranking 8th in the country as they get rebounds on 35.6% of missed shots. Letting Kentucky create extra possessions and easy points, especially for a team that isn’t necessarily going to kill you from the outside is brutal. This is how a guy like PJ Washington or Hami Diallo can really play a role here. Now, there are two big injury questions – one for each team. It sounds like Dean Wade, Kansas State’s leading scorer at 6’10” mismatch is going to play while we’re still waiting to hear news on Kentucky’s Jarred Vanderbilt. Both are important for different reasons. Wade, as I mentioned, is Kansas State’s leading scorer at over 16 per game. This is a team that really struggles on the offensive side of the ball and getting Wade back can at least alleviate some of that pressure. Kentucky getting Vanderbilt back gives them arguably its best offensive rebounder and a guy that really lets them run positionless basketball. With Vanderbilt back that’s another guy you can throw on Wade and guard him on the perimeter. I’m anxious to see how Kansas State decides to defend Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has turned into Kentucky’s star. Barry Brown will likely draw the assignment, but they can also throw Xavier Sneed or Cartier Diarra on him. Remember, this game being in Atlanta will also play as a home game for Kentucky.
Bracket pick: Kentucky
ATS pick: Kentucky

No. 4 Gonzaga vs No. 9 Florida State – 9:59 pm, TBS, Los Angeles
Line: Gonzaga – 5.5

I’ll be honest, I was shocked to see the line at just 5.5. Gonzaga is the better team, there’s no doubt about that. When you go position by position including coach, I like Gonzaga at pretty much every spot. They are better on every side of the ball in pretty much every stat, so what the hell are we looking at here? The one thing Florida State can do is match Gonzaga with depth and provide roster versatility. FSU can throw a couple 7-footers out there to try and dare Johnathan Williams to beat them from shooting mid range jumpers. They have enough guards to run that extended man to man and be aggressive, not worrying about foul trouble. Two ways Gonzaga can turn this into a blowout though? First, Killian Tillie shows up. He scored just 9 points in the first two games combined. That’s not good for the second leading scorer and a guy, who at 6’10” has an excellent shot and really can stretch the court. Second? Getting consistent play from Josh Perkins and Silas Melson. The backcourt duo has plenty of experience, but didn’t really look the part last weekend. If they can become more consistent tonight and breakdown that extended man defense, Gonzaga could run away with this one. Similar to what I said about Kentucky, remember Gonzaga is the only team who gets to stay on the west coast here.
Bracket pick: Gonzaga
ATS pick: Florida State