Tag: Basketball

Donald Trump’s Bracket: Trump Declines NCAA Bracket Picks for ESPN

Over the last eight years, it has become an annual tradition for basketball fans to compare their NCAA tournament picks with the president. While president, Barack Obama collaborated with ESPN each year for “Barack-otology”. Fans hoping to see Donald Trump’s bracket picks will be disappointed. The president has declined to participate in the event this year.

“We expressed our interest to the White House in continuing the presidential bracket. They have respectfully declined,” ESPN said in a statement.

Despite turning down the offer, the White House has expressed interest in a future collaboration with the network. “We look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future,” White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The Washington Post.

Trump does have ties to the sports industry, but does not appear to be a massive college basketball fan. Trump attended the Army-Navy college football game last fall, a tradition Army fans hope he keeps as the Black Knights broke a 14-game losing streak.

“It is humbling, it’s a great honor but it’s a great responsibility, and when you see these incredible people — we just want to be strong, and they want to be strong. You don’t see this kind of spirit anywhere,” Trump told CBS (via The Hill).

Trump took a slight jab at the quality of football as this clip shows.

According to The Washington Post, Trump owns 17 golf courses and is an avid golfer. He played a number of sports at the New York Military Academy and was a standout first baseman on the baseball team. He also owned a USFL football team as explored by the “30 for 30” documentary Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?.

Trump tweeted after the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. His relationship with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick has been well documented.

ESPN’s Andy Katz spoke to The Washington Post about why the bracket segment with Obama became so popular. He noted it worked because he loved basketball not simply because he was president.

“The bracket idea worked because President Obama follows basketball and is passionate about the sport. He wasn’t as dialed in to every player or team but had conversational knowledge to offer his own analysis on the NCAA tournament for the men’s and women’s game. Baracketology was a success because it was clear he was a fan of the sport and the NCAA tournament, like millions of other Americans,” Katz told The Washington Post.

He may not be living in the White House, but it did not stop Obama from filling out a bracket. Obama released his bracket picks on his foundation’s website for both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. Click here to see a full rundown of Obama’s picks. Obama’s Final Four is Duke, Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina.

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Obama Bracket 2017: Obama Releases NCAA Bracket Picks

Fans of ESPN’s “Barack-otology” will be glad to know Barack Obama released his bracket picks on his foundation’s website just days before the start of March Madness. While there is no ESPN segment breaking down the picks, Obama released full brackets for both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments.

What were Obama’s Final Four picks? Duke, Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina make up Obama’s 2017 picks. The former president has an all Carolina championship matchup with North Carolina defeating rival Duke to win the title.

On the women’s side, Obama picked UConn, Washington, Notre Dame and South Carolina. Obama has UConn defeating Notre Dame for another national championship.

With the release of the brackets, the Obama Foundation wrote about the importance of sport and shared a quote they had received.

We heard from many of you that your experiences playing sports have helped you develop confidence, an appreciation for hard work, and a positive outlook despite the ups and downs of life. We think Solomon A., from St. Louis, said it best:

‘When I think about citizenship, I think about sportsmanship. The game, whether on the field of play or in real-life, is more productive and more enjoyable when everyone has the opportunity to play, grow and succeed. A good sport, along with a good citizen, knows the main objective has nothing to do with the day’s score, but the willingness of people to continue playing no matter the outcome of a single contest.’

In keeping with tradition, Obama went chalk picking the favorites with one exception. The former president likes 14 seeded Bucknell to defeat No. 3 West Virginia. He also likes Notre Dame to defeat Gonzaga to advance to the Elite 8.

Last season, Obama picked Kansas, Texas A&M, North Carolina and Michigan State in his final four with Kansas winning the tournament. He correctly picked one (North Carolina) of four teams but did accurately pick UNC to make the title game.

Donald Trump declined to participate in the ESPN segment this year. Obama’s love of basketball has been well documented. In addition to filling out his bracket, Obama also frequently played pick-up games at the White House and attended several NBA games.

March Madness Bracket Names: The 10 Best Funny Bracket Names 2017

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Joani Harbaugh, Tom Crean’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Tom Crean and Joani Harbaugh have three children, Megan, Riley, and Ainsley. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for KLOVE)

College basketball coach Tom Crean, who was just fired by Indiana University, is married to Joani Harbaugh. She comes from a family of coaches, as her father Jack was head coach of Western Kentucky University football when Crean was a basketball assistant at the same school. Her older brothers are Jim and John Harbaugh.

Crean was Indiana’s coach for nine seasons, but only made it to the Sweet 16 three times during his tenure. They haven’t made the NCAA tournament in the past four seasons.

“After deliberative thought and evaluation, including multiple meetings with Tom about the future, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program,” Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement. “Tom Crean brought us through one of the most challenging periods in IU basketball history, led his players to many successes in the classroom and on the court and represented our university with class and integrity.”

Here’s what you need to know about the 49-year-old Harbaugh.

1. Her Older Brothers are Football Coaches Jim & John Harbaugh

Her older brothers are also coaches in football. John is the Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, while Jim is the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. Jim was also the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, who lost to the John’s Ravens at Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.

Harbaugh and Crean have three children, Megan, 21; Riley, 17 and Ainsley, 11.

In an interview with the New York Times in 2013, Harbaugh said she didn’t plan on ending up marrying a coach. It just happened!

“I don’t know how that happened,” she told the Times. “It was not a plan. Twenty years ago, we were all different people. Twenty years ago, we were all scrapping and scraping to make a few bucks.”

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2. She Had no Athletic Talent Growing Up

Joani is six years younger than John and five years younger than Jim, notes the Mercury News. She told the paper that she never tried to keep up with them in sports. She played volleyball and softball, but never wanted to follow them into professional sports.

“I had no athletic talent. None. I just tried to participate the best I could,” Harbaugh told the Mercury News. “I just think they were being really nice to me and letting me hang out.”

In that same interview, she said that she was at least happy that she didn’t marry a football coach.

“I’m not sure what I was thinking,” she told the Mercury News. “At least I added a different sport.”

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3. John Said She Was the Favorite Child Growing Up

As The New York Times notes, John has said that Harbaugh was the favorite child growing up. After all, she had her own room.

According to the Mercury News, the family lived in a small home in Iowa in the 1970s. Jim thought it was the smallest house he’d ever seen, but his father joked that it was great because the brothers would share a room.

One time, she annoyed her brothers by memorizing all the lines to a Wizard of Oz play even though she was only playing a Munchkin who tells Dorothy “Follow the yellow brick road.” “But she knew everyone else’s (lines) and she had all the inflections down. She would just do it around the house for about a year,” John said in 2011.

In the 2013 Times profile, she confirmed that the story was true. “I was highly, highly offended” to be cast as a munchkin, she said. “I do remember that I was not Dorothy or Glinda, so I decided to memorize the entire play. In case anybody went down with the flu or something, they could put me in there. So I was just ready, ready to go.”

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Jim Harbaugh took a pretty direct shot back at Nick Saban via Twitter after the Alabama coach criticized satellite camps, which Harbaugh supports.

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4. She Was Friends With coach Bill McCartney’s Daughter in School

As The Detroit Free Press notes, Harbaugh was friends with Kristy McCartney, the daughter of College Football Hall of Fame coach Bill McCartney. The two went to St. Francis of Assisi elementary school in Ann Arbor, Michigan together. Harbaugh’s older brothers also babysat Bill McCartney’s children.

Harbaugh graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

Jim Harbaugh’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Jim Harbaugh is going home. The first-year Michigan football coach is back at his alma mater this season and, most of, his family is going with him.

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5. She Says That the Happiness of Her Kids Comes Before Basketball Wins or Losses

Megan Crean, Joani Harbaugh daughter, Tom Crean daughter

Joani Harbaugh’s daughter Megan Crean. (LinkedIn)

In a 2012 interview with the Indiana Daily Student, Harbaugh said that the most important thing in her life is making sure her children are happy.

“I’ve learned that in the grand scheme of things that the happiness of my kids needs to come before whether or not Indiana loses or wins a basketball game, and that’s taken quite a few years,” she told the Daily Student.

“You have to, as a parent, remember that your kids are going through changes in their life. I’ve got one in puberty, another one who’s driving and one who’s six. Balance? I don’t know if I have an answer to that question.”

However, in that same interview, Harbaugh added, “I’ll be honest… we don’t live a life without Tom’s job.”

Their daughter, Megan Crean, is a student at Indiana University who interns at “The Catwalk. Son Riley Crean also committed to IU and will play baseball.

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LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s Dad: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

LaVar Ball has become almost as famous as his son, Lonzo Ball, who is expected to be a top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. LaVar’s controversial comments have a way of becoming an internet sensation.

One NBA general manager told the Sporting News that Lonzo’s relationship with his father will be looked into and could impact his draft status.

“It doesn’t help, all this stuff with his father. I don’t know what is gained for the kid by putting that much pressure on him. Nobody from the league has been meeting with (Lonzo Ball) or anything, but that is going to be another thing to look at when it comes to due diligence before the draft. How does he handle his dad, is it just something he laughs about, or is it real pressure on him,” the GM told the Sporting News.

He recently said he could have beat Jordan in a one-on-one game. It is a lofty statement for someone who averaged 2.2 points and 2.3 assists in 26 games at Washington State. His outlandish comments have caused #LavarBallSays to trend on Twitter.

LaVar is not the silent and supportive type like many parents. For all his antics, it does not seem to bother Lonzo or impact his play.

“My dad’s a funny guy. People were coming up to me and saying, ‘Are you embarrassed? Your dad said you’re going to win the championship.’ No, I’m not embarrassed. I know how he’s going to act. I just go out there and play. Let him be him,” Lonzo told Bleacher Report.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Lonzo Claims Lonzo Ball Is Better Than Steph Curry

Instagram Photo

The Steph Curry controversy started when LaVar told TMZ his son would one day be better than Steph Curry. “You can’t compare my boy to anyone. He’s gonna be better than Steph Curry in the NBA,” LaVar told TMZ. It was a bold statement considering his son is still in college, and Curry is one of the best players in the NBA. He then doubled down on his original comments in an ESPN interview by saying Lonzo was already better than Curry.

For his part, Curry took the high road. “I don’t want to talk about that. I wish his kids the best and I know they’ll be great NBA players. That’s their job. That’s it,” Curry told the USA Today. Watch the interview in the video below.

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2. LaVar Created The Big Ballers Organization so His Three Sons Could Play on the Same Team

According to SLAM Magazine, LaVar created a 17-and-under team that would allow all three of his sons to play on the same team. It was an interesting move given his youngest son, LaMelo, was in seventh grade. Another unusual aspect of the team, they did their best to play in local tournaments since they were not affiliated with the shoe companies who ran the national tournaments that bring teams in from all over the country.

“We’re doing some s**t that has never been done before. We kind of march to our own beat in the fact that we make our own rules. Anyone that’s super successful, they didn’t stay on the same road. They kind of went their own way, so we jumped out the box and took a risk,” Ball told SLAM Magazine.

From there, LaVar has created a clothing line called Big Baller Brand. “BIG BALLER BRAND is a Lifestyle Apparel company founded on core family values, and inspired by the 3 Ball brothers from Chino Hills, California,” the company notes on its website.

3. LaVar’s Wife, Tina, Is an Athletic Director at a Southern California Middle School

LaVar, never shy to voice his opinion, even had basketball on his mind when he met his wife. He spoke with Los Angeles Magazine about their first meeting.

“I see this tall girl, very attractive, walking down a hallway and I go, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’re gonna be doing something!’ Once that was in her head, I had her. I picked a big girl who was beautiful. A big stallion,” LaVar told Los Angeles Magazine.

Tina played college basketball, and it is something LaVar believes has helped his sons play.

“We’re really a basketball family. With a name like Ball? Tina played basketball. You don’t get these boys without having this setup. You can’t have a wife who played violin. We’re in the gym every Saturday and Sunday, and that’s a family outing for us. My wife is not saying, ‘Oh, we have to have another tournament this week,” LaVar told Bleacher Report.

4. LaVar Said His Son Will Only Play for the Lakers Then Walked His Comments Back

It is hard to keep track of the outlandish things LaVar has said. In an interview on an Arizona radio station, he claimed his son would only play for the Lakers. Days later he claimed his interview was taken out of context. He clarified his earlier statement in an interview with Colin Cowherd.

LaVar noted his son wants to play in the NBA no matter what team he ends up on. He said his comments about the Lakers were about “speaking it into existence.” LaVar noted that it would be great for him to play in Los Angeles where he is close to family.

LaVar’s comments are unlikely to prevent an NBA team from passing on selecting Lonzo. For what it’s worth, the Lakers could be in a prime position to draft Lonzo as they are projected to have a top three draft pick in June’s draft.

5. He Has a Feud With Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley spoke with the Sporting News after LaVar’s comments about Curry and his son went viral. Barkley was critical of LaVar noting he felt he was overstepping his bounds.

“Just because you say some s**t, doesn’t make it right. He’s gonna be better than Steph Curry? That’s what he said. Steph Curry has won a couple MVPs, he’s pretty good. Man, let me tell you something. That’s that AAU s—. You can’t say a guy is going to be better than Steph Curry, a guy who has played 30 college games. I know you can be proud of your son, but at some point, it becomes stupidity,” Barkley told Sporting News.

LaVar fired back in his interview with Cowherd. “If Charles thought like me maybe he’d win a championship,” LaVar told Cowherd. The full interview can be seen in the above video.

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Baylor vs. South Carolina: Date, Time, Odds & TV Channel

Baylor takes on South Carolina in the Sweet 16. (Getty)

Baylor will take on South Carolina at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Friday, March 24 at 7:29 p.m. Eastern on TBS. According to OddsShark, Baylor is favored by 3.5 points and the over-under is set at 135 points.

The Bears survived a tight contest against USC to advance to the Sweet 16. Baylor was inconsistent to close out the regular season but has looked much better to start the tournament. Baylor opened March Madness with a 20-point win over New Mexico State.

Baylor will play another USC team, this time it is the Gamecocks after their upset win over Duke. The East has become the region of chaos with the two top seeds (Villanova and Duke) losing in the Round of 32. The winner will play the Florida-Wisconsin winner in the Elite 8.

The Bears are led by Junior forward Johnathan Motley who has had a double-double in the Bears’ first two games of the tournament. He had 19 points and 10 rebounds against USC in the Round of 32. Motley averaged 17.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists during the regular season.

South Carolina took advantage of playing their first two games of the tournament in Greenville, South Carolina just a short drive from Colombia. The Gamecocks stunned Duke who was the Vegas favorite before the tournament started. South Carolina defeated Marquette in the opening round.

South Carolina played in front of a rowdy crowd in their upset victory over Duke. While there were many South Carolina fans, there were also North Carolina fans who stayed to cheer against their rival.

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Kevin Durant Injury Update: When KD Will Play Again

Kevin Durant will not play tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Getty)

Last time the Golden State Warriors came to Oklahoma City, it was an epic showdown as Kevin Durant returned to play his former team. In the March 20 re-match, Durant will not play tonight. Durant is sitting on the Warriors bench in street clothes. Durant traveled with the team and was seen during the morning shoot around riding a stationary bike.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr told The Mercury News the decision was up to Durant, and he was unsure whether Durant would be on the bench.

I don’t know [if he’ll sit on the bench]. I haven’t asked him. It’s up to him. The last few games, he hasn’t been out on our bench at Oracle. He’s been getting treatment from the training staff. It’s not really a concern of mine, so I haven’t asked him. Sometimes if a guy’s hurt, we don’t want him on the bench. A guy can fly into him on a loose ball, if he’s not able to move out of the way. But I don’t think that’s a factor here. It’ll be up to him.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it is the first time Durant has traveled with the team since sustaining a grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise on February 28. While the team has not set a return date, there is hope Durant will be ready to return by the end of the regular season.

Although the Warriors have been just 5-5 in Durant’s absence, the team is not rushing him back. “You just try to let a guy rehab and do what he wants to do at his own pace. I feel like when you start talking to a guy — ‘Hey, man, how you doing?’ — then all of a sudden they want to rush back. … Take your time. Get right. When he’s ready, obviously, we want him back out there,” Draymond Green told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Mercury News notes Durant will be re-evaluated in a week. Here is the original statement the Warriors issued on March 1:

Durant was greeted with boos and different variations of cupcake jokes in his initial return to OKC. The term was an inside joke on the Thunder team that referred to a player that was soft. If Durant does decide to sit on the bench, he will no doubt receive similar treatment from his former fans.

The Warriors final regular season game is April 12 against the Lakers. Durant would need to be ready by April 15 in order to play when the playoffs start.

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NBA Standings 2017: Playoff Picture & Matchups

The Warriors are the top team in the entire league. (Getty)

With March Madness in full swing, it signals the NBA season is about to wrap up. The NBA Playoffs begin Saturday, April 16 with the final slate of games taking place April 12.

The Golden State Warriors have struggled without Kevin Durant but still sit at the top of the Western Conference standings. This also means the Warriors would get home court advantage in the NBA Finals if they are able to advance through the West. The San Antonio Spurs are still within striking distance of the Warriors for the number one seed.

In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a slight edge over the Boston Celtics for the top seed. The two teams play one more time on April 5 in a matchup that could have a big impact on the seeding.

Teams in bold would make the playoffs if the season were to end today. Teams in italics have already clinched a playoff birth.

Here’s a look at the current NBA standings and playoff matchups.

Eastern Conference Standings

nba standings, playoff matchup, latest, current

The Celtics and Wizards are battling atop the East standings. (Getty)

1. Cleveland Cavs 46 23
2. Boston Celtics 45 26 2
3. Washington Wizards 42 28 4.5
4. Toronto Raptors 42 29 5
5. Atlanta Hawks 37 33 9.5
6. Indiana Pacers 36 34 10.5
7. Milwaukee Bucks 35 35 11.5
8. Miami Heat 35 36 12
9. Detroit Pistons 34 37 13
10. Chicago Bulls 33 38 14
11. Charlotte Hornets 31 39 15.5
12. New York Knicks 27 43 19.5
13. Philadelphia 76ers 26 44 20.5
14. Orlando Magic 26 45 21
15. Brooklyn Nets 14 56 33

Current Eastern Conference Playoff Matchups

nba standings, playoff matchups, current, latest

The Pistons are one of several potential first round opponents for the Cavs. (Getty)

8. Miami Heat vs. 1. Cleveland Cavs
The Pistons, Heat and Bulls are all battling to face the Cavs in the first round in what will be an uphill battle for the team that makes it into the playoffs.

7. Milwaukee Bucks vs. 2. Boston Celtics
This could be the matchup of the first round. Giannis Antetokounmpo and a young Bucks team face a talented Celtics roster.

6. Indiana Pacers vs. 3. Washington Wizards
Much of the conversation in the East centers around the Cavs and Celtics. However, the Wizards have a chance to upset either team if they are playing their best come April.

5. Atlanta Hawks vs. 4. Toronto Raptors
The trade for Serge Ibaka has not given the Raptors the immediate return they were hoping for, but it could be a different story come playoff time.

Western Conference Standings

nba standings, playoff picture, matchups

James Harden is in the running for MVP. (Getty)

1. Golden State Warriors 57 14
2. San Antonio Spurs 54 16 2.5
3. Houston Rockets 49 22 8
4. Utah Jazz 43 28 14
5. LA Clippers 43 29 14.5
6. Oklahoma City Thunder 40 30 16.5
7. Memphis Grizzlies 40 31 17
8. Denver Nuggets 33 37 23.5
9. Portland Trail Blazers 32 38 24.5
10. Dallas Mavericks 30 40 26.5
11. New Orleans Pelicans 30 41 27
12. Minnesota Timberwolves 28 42 28.5
13. Sacramento Kings 27 43 29.5
14. Phoenix Suns 22 49 35
15. Los Angeles Lakers 20 51 37

Current Western Conference Playoff Matchups

nba standings, playoff picture, matchups

The Spurs are currently slated to face the Grizzlies in the playoffs. (Getty)

8. Denver Nuggets vs. 1. Golden State Warriors
The Nuggets are a young and exciting team. Their reward? They get to face the Warriors. Denver could give Golden State some trouble down low but not enough to have a chance to advance.

7. Memphis Grizzlies vs. 2. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are still in the running for the top seed and have a good chance to challenge the Warriors in the West.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 3. Houston Rockets
Houston has been the surprise of the season and should advance with little problem. This is a fun matchup between Russell Westbrook and James Harden, two players who will likely finish top two in the MVP voting.

5. L.A. Clippers vs. 4. Utah Jazz
The Jazz continue to get better while the Clippers are hovering where they have been for the past few seasons. If the Clippers get bounced out of the first round, this could be the end of the road for the core group of players.

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NCAA Basketball Odds 2017: Sweet 16 & Tournament Trends

As one might expect with the only No. 1 seed who covered during the second round, the Kansas Jayhawks have taken over as the betting favorite on the odds to win the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

The Jayhawks are the slim +475 favorite to win the national title at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with the North Carolina Tar Heels close behind at +500. The top of the board also reflects the strong showing by West Coast teams, with the Arizona Wildcats (+650), Gonzaga Bulldogs (+650) and UCLA Bruins (+900) each rating a strong chance.

North Carolina opened as a +600 co-favorite at the sportsbooks. But the overall poor showing by the ACC seems to have created doubt about the strength of the Tar Heels, plus their South Region is stacked with the Lonzo Ball-led UCLA Bruins, as well as fellow frosh prince Malik Monk and the Kentucky Wildcats (+1000).

Kansas was listed at +800 going into the tournament. Kansas’ path to next week’s Final Four includes the Sweet 16 matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers (+2000 to win), whose big man Caleb Swanigan could expose issues with the Jayhawks’ rim protection. But Kansas has an elite backcourt led by Frank Mason III.

Arizona has made the big move from +1200 at the outset of the tournament, with West Region rival Gonzaga similarly lowering its odds from +1000. The two teams could meet in the Elite Eight.

The best value on the board might belong to UCLA, what with their explosive offense centered around Ball and Bryce Alford. The Bruins looked sharper than Kentucky during the opening weekend, but there’s still some lingering doubts about a young team being able to remain consistent for four more games.

Out in the East Region, where the top two seeds were toppled, the 4-seed Florida Gators (+1200) have the best odds, ahead of the 3-seed Baylor Bears (+1600). With the other three regions all looking stronger, it’s logical to think whoever survives the next two rounds would be far better prepared.

For Thursday’s Sweet 16 openers, the Michigan Wolverines are 1.5-point favorites against the Oregon Ducks with a 146.5-point total. This is only the fourth time a 7-seed has been favored against a 3-seed. The 3-seed is 2-1 both straight-up and against the spread.

As well, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are three-point favorites against the West Virginia Mountaineers with a 148.5 total. The Kansas Jayhawks are five-point favorites against Purdue with a 156.5 total. And the Arizona Wildcats are 7.5-point favorites against the Xavier Musketeers with a 145 total. Arizona is 3-1 ATS all-time against 11-seeds.

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