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CBB Lines And Locks For March 23rd

Gonzaga (-4.5) vs Kansas: These two teams had very different paths to get here. Gonzaga blew out McNeese State, while Kansas just barely won against Samford, thanks in large part to a controversial foul call that bailed out the Jayhawks. Gonzaga is not the usual Gonzaga this year, but Kansas is also not a usually dominant Kansas team and is limping into the tournament still. Gonzaga is 17th in the NET and 13th overall in KenPom. Gonzaga’s strength is on offense, averaging 84.9 points per game which is good for seventh in college basketball. They are also 8th in adjusted offensive rating at 121.3. They also share the ball very well at 16.7 assists per game. Four different Bulldogs average over double digits with Graham Ike leading the way at 16.5 points per game and he averages 7.2 rebounds per game as their main big man down low. The Jayhawks still don’t have their best player, Kevin McCullar Jr., who has been dealing with a bone bruise in his knee and Bill Self revealed before their first game that he will not be available during the NCAA Tournament at all. Kansas is 19th in the NET and 23rd overall in KenPom. They have been one of the best defenses in college basketball, ranking 13th in KenPom with an adjusted defensive rating of 94.7 and they are allowing 69.3 points per game. The Jayhawks are reeling with depth issues and McCullar Jr. ‘s injury makes it worse. He is one of three players that averages over double digits for the Jayhawks and he led the way in scoring for them at 18.3 points per game for them. Next up, is Hunter Dickinson at 18 points per game, but he is also not healthy after dislocating his shoulder and there’s no way he will be 100% even if he plays and he also leads the team in rebounds at 10.8 per game and blocks at 1.4 per game. Gonzaga is a very good shooting team and can stretch this Kansas defense across the court. Then, they are also a team that loves to get up and down, tempo-wise, and that is going to test Kansas’ depth. Finally, personnel-wise, Gonzaga can match up with the Jayhawks, mainly down low with Ike against Dickinson and then with both Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard in the backcourt. This game should be close at first, but Gonzaga should pull away and move on to the Sweet 16 once again.

Pick: Gonzaga -4.5

Michigan State vs North Carolina (-3.5): These are two blue bloods in the sport and they meet once again. Michigan State pulled off a win in the first round against Mississippi State and is primed to play in the second round once again under Tom Izzo or Mr. March if you want to call him that too. The Spartans are 24th in the NET and then 16th in KenPom, but their season overall was one that was plagued by inconsistencies, despite all of that. Their defense has been their anchor this season with them ranking sixth in adjusted defensive rating at 93.1. Their play on the wing and backcourt is what stands out with four different players averaging over double digits, with Tyson Walker leading the way at 18.2 points per game. The North Carolina Tar Heels have played extremely well this season and are a 1-seed for a reason. The Tar Heels are eighth in the NET and ninth in KenPom overall. They are a very balanced team, averaging 81.7 points per game and then are also eighth in adjusted defensive rating at 93.7. The Tar Heels’ defensive improvement has been massive this season, but their offense still carries them. Four different Tar Heels average over double digits with RJ Davis leading the way at 21.4 points per game. Davis’ play also earned him a First Team All-American nod. If this spread was larger, then the easy pick to cover would be Michigan State, but at a 3.5-point spread the Tar Heels are the pick. The Spartans have physicality and can bother most teams, but the duo of RJ Davis and Armando Bacot is too good, and with the emergence of Harrison Ingram and Cormac Ryan the Tar Heels have too many players that can bother the Spartans. Expect a close game, but the Tar Heels should win and cover to move onto the Sweet 16.

Pick: North Carolina -4

Oregon vs Creighton (-5): Oregon got hot and won the Pac-12 tournament after an inconsistent season, mainly due to all the injuries they were dealing with and by the tournament they finally got healthy and got the auto-bid from the Pac-12 and that carried over against South Carolina. Oregon is 59th in the NET and 52nd in KenPom. They are good, but not great on both offense and defense, with a 115.0 adjusted offense rating and a 100.6 adjusted defense rating in KenPom which is good for 42nd and 70th respectively. Five different Ducks average double digits in scoring, but the two biggest keys are seniors N’Faly Dante leading the way at 16.2 points per game and 8.8 rebounds and then Jermaine Couisnard who averages 16.1 points per game and then leads the way in assists at 3.3. It is also worth noting Oregon takes care of the basketball, only averaging 10.2 turnovers per game. Creighton is one of the best teams remaining in the tournament. After a slow start, they shot lights out against Akron to advance. They are 11th in both the NET and KenPom overall. They are also a very balanced team averaging 80.4 points per game and then have a 120.1 offensive rating on KenPom, good enough for 11th in college basketball. On defense, they are 26th in adjusted defensive rating at 96.8. Four players average over double digits and three of them average at least 17 points per game. Baylor Scheierman leads the way at 18.3 points per game. The difference in this game is going to be how each team plays down low with the battle between N’Faly Dante and Ryan Kalkbrenner. Dante has the power and athleticism, but Kalkbrenner has the length. Creighton is the better team overall but Dana Altman should have Oregon ready for this game. This is going to be close, expect Oregon to keep it close and cover, and potentially think about Oregon outright in this game.

Pick: Oregon +4.5 or Oregon ML (+160)

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