NCAA Tournament 2022: B/R Expert Predictions for Second Round of Men's TourneyMarch 19, 2022
NCAA Tournament 2022: B/R Expert Predictions for Second Round of Men's Tourney
The first round of the 2022 men's NCAA tournament had some wildly unpredictable results, most notably Saint Peter's shocking Kentucky in one of the biggest upsets ever, followed by the Peacocks pulling off another upset to advance to the Sweet 16.
But that doesn't mean we stop diving into the matchups and trying to figure out what to expect in the second round of the dance.
After all, we did get most of the games right. (But, yes, my bracket went straight in the trash when Kentucky lost. No one's perfect.)
For each of the games Sunday, we'll briefly sum up what it would take for each team to win before also offering a spot where you might consider placing a wager.
And, for the record, I did bet on everything suggested, with the exception of the games in my home state (for which I'm not allowed to make any wagers for who knows what legal reason). And if you followed my advice in the first round, here's hoping you're enjoying those winnings as much as I am. Time to turn that money into more money.
Games are listed in chronological order, from Houston-Illinois straight through to Arizona-TCU.
No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. No. 5 Houston Cougars
Matchup: No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 5 Houston (South Region)
Details: Sunday at 12:10 p.m. ET (CBS) Pittsburgh
One-Sentence Synopsis: Predictive metrics darling takes on a Big Ten regular-season champion licking its wounds from an opener that epitomized the "Survive and Advance" mantra of March.
Illinois Wins If: It bounces back in a big way from a rough shooting night against Chattanooga. Alfonso Plummer hit a few big shots, but he was the only one. The Illini shot an uncharacteristic 3-of-17 from three-point range against the Mocs, and they will likely get smashed by Houston if that happens again Sunday. But if Trent Frazier and Jacob Grandison come through for a team that averages better than nine triples per game, well, the deep ball is the best way to get off a less contested shot against the Cougars.
Houston Wins If: Blocks and turnovers are a key factor. Both of these teams are well above-average in terms of defensive efficiency, but Houston has the much more proactive defense, averaging a combined 13.4 blocks and steals compared to Illinois' mark of 8.2. Moreover, the Illini offense commits more turnovers and has more shots blocked, so the Cougars should hold the edge in those types of momentum-shifting plays. How many such plays there are could determine the outcome.
If I Had to Bet on Something...: Illinois +170 moneyline. If this was Houston +170, that would've been the recommendation here, because this game is a great big coin flip as far as I'm concerned. With any luck, that way-too-close-for-comfort game against Chattanooga will be the spark the Illini need to knock off a very good Houston team.
David Kenyon: Houston
Kerry Miller: Illinois
Joel Reuter: Illinois
No. 2 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes
Matchup: No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 7 Ohio State (South Region)
Details: Sunday at 2:40 p.m. ET (CBS) Pittsburgh
One-Sentence Synopsis: Three hours from Columbus and five hours from Philadelphia, PPG Arena will be chock-full of fans for both sides of what should be an offensive showcase.
Villanova Wins If: It neutralizes Ohio State's perimeter attack. The Wildcats should be able to score on the Buckeyes and almost certainly won't commit many turnovers in this one, but can they do enough on defense to avoid getting bounced prematurely? The Buckeyes don't have a guy like Collin Gillespie with nearly 100 threes made this season, but they do have seven guys who have made at least 15. And that 'Nova defense allows a lot of three-point attempts.
Ohio State Wins If: Villanova shoots it like Loyola University Chicago did. The Ramblers entered that first-round game as one of the most efficient shooting teams in the country. But against Ohio State's usually-nothing-special defense, they could not buy a bucket from anywhere on the floor. If the Buckeyes work that magic again, they'll pull off the upset. But Villanova shot 13-of-28 from downtown against Delaware, so that might be a pipe dream.
If I Had to Bet on Something...: Villanova -4. Over their respective last 12 games, Villanova is 11-1, while Ohio State is 6-6. The announcing crew spent a lot of Friday's game talking about Ohio State playing 12 games in 30 days and not being fully healthy for most of it, but the Buckeyes still had some embarrassing losses during that stretch and did not look good on offense against the Ramblers. Villanova should roll.
David Kenyon: Villanova
Kerry Miller: Villanova
Joel Reuter: Villanova
No. 2 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 7 Michigan State Spartans
Matchup: No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 Michigan State (West Region)
Details: Sunday at 5:15 p.m. ET (CBS) Greenville, South Carolina
One-Sentence Synopsis: Mike Krzyzewski's farewell tour will feature one more showdown with Tom Izzo, against whom Coach K is 4-2 in the NCAA tournament.
Duke Wins If: Star power reigns supreme. I hate when people want to talk about draft stock during the NCAA tournament, but it bears mentioning that Duke has two surefire lottery picks in Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin, three other likely first-round picks in Mark Williams, Wendell Moore Jr. and Trevor Keels, and the Spartans have one maybe first-rounder in Max Christie—who has scored in double figures just three times in his last 15 games. There's no question that Duke has more talent, which should mean a Blue Devils W. But, of course, it doesn't always work out that way.
Michigan State Wins If: It has its best offensive performance in months. Michigan State hasn't scored more than 77 points in a game since January, and whether the Spartans will even get to 70 has been a coin flip for about seven weeks. And one of those offensive performances isn't going to cut it against a Duke team averaging 80.0 points over its last 12 contests. But Sparty does have plenty of capable shooters. Just got to get three or four of them into a decent rhythm in the same game for a change.
If I Had to Bet on Something...: Michigan State +6.5. Are there people who seriously believe this game isn't going to be decided in the final 10 seconds? Duke will win in dramatic fashion, and everyone will spend the next few days starting to more seriously consider the possibility of Coach K riding off into the sunset with his sixth national championship. But Michigan State will cover.
David Kenyon: Duke
Kerry Miller: Duke
Joel Reuter: Duke
No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 11 Iowa State Cyclones
Matchup: No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Iowa State (Midwest Region)
Details: Sunday at 6:10 p.m. ET (TNT) Milwaukee
One-Sentence Synopsis: The breakout star of the 2021-22 season (Wisconsin's Johnny Davis) squares off with the breakout team of the 2021-22 season (Iowa State).
Wisconsin Wins If: It keeps giveaways to a minimum, which it usually does. Iowa State is great at forcing turnovers, as exhibited by the 15 steals that led directly to 15 points in Friday's win over LSU. But Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in turnover percentage on offense and has allowed at least eight steals in a game only twice this season and once in the past four months. Limit those run-outs and there's a good chance you hold Iowa State to 50 points or fewer.
Iowa State Wins If: Friday's performance was Tyrese Hunter taking the proverbial next step. Iowa State's freshman point guard had a great debut year in Ames, averaging roughly 11 points, five assists and two steals per game despite lacking a three-point stroke that needs to be respected. That changed in the first round when he canned seven of 11 three-point attempts against LSU. If that version shows up against Wisconsin, we're going to end up with at least one double-digit seed in the Sweet 16.
If I Had to Bet on Something...: Under 129. Iowa State needed 15 steals and a freshman having by far the best shooting display of his career just to score 59 points against LSU. And Wisconsin had one of the worst effective field-goal percentages among the 68 teams that made the dance. There are going to be a bunch of fun, aesthetically pleasing games in the second round, but this isn't one of them. First to 50 wins.
David Kenyon: Wisconsin
Kerry Miller: Wisconsin
Joel Reuter: Wisconsin
No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Matchup: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Notre Dame (West Region)
Details: Sunday at 7:10 p.m. ET (TBS) San Diego
One-Sentence Synopsis: After Rutgers and Alabama both failed, Texas Tech tries its (very good defensive) hand at eliminating the last at-large team selected to the field.
Texas Tech Wins If: It dominates down low on offense. Texas Tech's defense is elite and has held its last nine opponents to 57.6 points per game. Given Notre Dame's lack of offensive rebounds and trips to the free-throw line, you got to assume that trend will continue. But will the Red Raiders score 58? If they pound the paint and take advantage of a Fighting Irish defense with basically no rim protection, they should.
Notre Dame Wins If: Cormac Ryan continues raining threes. Even before lighting up Alabama for seven triples and 29 points on Friday, Ryan had scored at least 15 in three straight games, emerging as a go-to scoring option very late in the season. And if there's one area in which Texas Tech's defense might be exploitable, it's along the perimeter, where the Red Raiders allow about 25 three-point attempts per game.
If I Had to Bet on Something...: Notre Dame +280 moneyline. One of those situations where I'm not even sure I can see an upset happening, but the moneyline is too good to pass up. Plus, Notre Dame is on one of those 2016 Syracuse "we didn't deserve to get into the tournament, but we're going to make the Final Four anyway" types of runs.
David Kenyon: Texas Tech
Kerry Miller: Texas Tech
Joel Reuter: Texas Tech
No. 2 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 10 Miami Hurricanes
Matchup: No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 10 Miami (Midwest Region)
Details: Sunday at 7:45 p.m. ET (truTV) Greenville
One-Sentence Synopsis: Auburn's duo of star big men take on a Miami defense hoping to steal a huge win.
Auburn Wins If: It dominates rebound margin and holds its own in the turnover battle. USC did the former against Miami (plus-12) but very much did not do that latter (minus-15) and ended up on the wrong end of a nail-biter because of it. But Auburn was plus-19 in turnover margin in its final four games heading into the dance and has done a fine job in the steals department all season long. The Tigers should be able to neutralize what is usually Miami's biggest strength.
Miami Wins If: "Can't Play Away From Home" Auburn shows up. There's no question that the Tigers have been the better team this season and that it should cause major problems on defense for an undersized Miami squad. But that was also true of Auburn when it lost to Florida and Texas A&M and when it barely survived at Mississippi State, Georgia and Missouri. After a tense first 15 minutes, the Tigers flexed their muscles in a 19-point rout of Jacksonville State. But who knows which version will show up on Sunday?
If I Had to Bet on Something...: Under 144.5. Auburn's defense always travels, but it's the offense that has gone missing in the flat performances over the past two months. And it's not like Miami plays at a breakneck pace.
David Kenyon: Auburn
Kerry Miller: Auburn
Joel Reuter: Auburn
No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 6 Texas Longhorns
Matchup: No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 6 Texas (East Region)
Details: Sunday at 8:40 p.m. ET (TNT) Milwaukee
One-Sentence Synopsis: Purdue lost to Chris Beard in 2016 (Arkansas-Little Rock) and 2018 (Texas Tech), but maybe head coach Matt Painter can finally beat his March nemesis.
Purdue Wins If: The center tandem puts the team on its back. Texas hasn't started a player taller than 6'7" since losing Tre Mitchell to a personal leave of absence in mid-February, and now it only has one rotational player left (6'9" Dylan Disu) taller than 6'7". Meanwhile, Purdue's starting center, Zach Edey, is 7'4" and should have a field day in the paint—like when Gonzaga's Drew Timme ate the Longhorns alive for 37 points back in November. The Boilermakers also have 6'10" Trevion Williams and 6'10" Caleb Furst to utilize that size advantage.
Texas Wins If: Defense wins championships. As has been noted on many occasions over the past few months, Purdue's defense is not great. And while its offense boasts super efficient year-to-date marks, it hasn't been the same unstoppable force over the past few weeks that it was in November and December. Texas, on the other hand, has an excellent defense that just stifled a Virginia Tech offense which had been hotter than the sun in the ACC tournament. If the Longhorns can bottle up Jaden Ivey and Co., they could pull off the mild upset.
If I Had to Bet on Something...: Texas +4. As noted above, Beard has had Purdue's number, and it's not like the whole "dominant center who is 7'0" or taller" thing is a new phenomenon for the Boilermakers. I think Texas will find a way to win this game, and I definitely don't see Purdue running away with a blowout.
David Kenyon: Purdue
Kerry Miller: Texas
Joel Reuter: Purdue
No. 1 Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 9 TCU Horned Frogs
Matchup: No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 9 TCU (South Region)
Details: Sunday at 9:40 p.m. ET (TBS) San Diego
One-Sentence Synopsis: Arizona and TCU square off in a matchup between offenses hoping to play at drastically different tempos.
Arizona Wins If: It simply overpowers a bad offense. All due respect to TCU, which had some great wins late in the season over Texas Tech, Kansas and Texas, but this offense is not built to keep pace in a shootout. The Horned Frogs entered Friday ranked well outside the top 300 nationally in three-point percentage, free-throw percentage and offensive turnover percentage. The last time they scored more than 77 points in a game was on Dec. 21. There's no way that should be enough against this Arizona scoring machine.
TCU Wins If: It mucks up the game until there's no rhythm whatsoever. The best way to slow down Arizona is to literally slow down Arizona. And few teams in the country are better than TCU at drawing out long offensive possessions with rebounds and shots late in the shot clock. There's still the matter of actually scoring against a very good, very tall Wildcats defense, but TCU is way more likely to win a game in the high 60s than a game in the low-to-mid 80s.
If I Had to Bet on Something...: Arizona -9.5. There's always at least one game on the second day of the second round that gets out of hand in a hurry, and this sure looks like the most obvious candidate. The Wildcats will get pushed to the limit in the Sweet 16 by either Houston or Illinois, but they shouldn't have much trouble getting there, even if Kerr Kriisa (ankle) is still out.
David Kenyon: Arizona
Kerry Miller: Arizona
Joel Reuter: Arizona
Odds via DraftKings and accurate as of Friday night.
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