After a wild weekend of basketball, the Sweet 16 promises to impress basketball fans even more. Saturday will be marked by the presence of many outsiders and impressive performances of the top seeds in the second round. @IowaZach and I (@cwsdjt) pick each match, so let’s go.

Loyola-Ile (-6.5) vs. Oregon State

Both longshot tournaments go into this match with confidence – and with good reason. Loyola shocked the nation last week by defeating the No. 2 Illinois Fighting Illini 71-58, putting on a defensive clinic and leading one of the most efficient offenses in the country to its lowest point total of the season. Two days earlier, they did the same against ninth-ranked Georgia Tech and won 71-58.

Oregon State was just as impressive in its first tournament game, maybe even more so when you consider that the 12th-ranked team was up against Tennessee, the fourth-best defender in the country. They won that game 70-56 and then faced Cade Cunningham and the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who were picked first in the NBA, where they won 80-70. That’s right. These two teams won their first two games of the tournament as 8th and 12th placed teams, each with an average of 11.5 points!

This Loyola team objectively has the best defense in the country, scoring just 55.8 points per game. They are ineffective on the offensive side of the ball. They make just 52 field goals per game, but 50.4 percent of them, the fifth-best percentage in college basketball. The Ramblers’ offense runs through Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Cameron Krutwig, who averaged 15 points per game during the 2020-21 season. The 6-foot-9 graduate was impressive in Loyola’s win over Illinois. He scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against one of the most physically dominant big men in the country, Kofi Cockburn.

On paper, Oregon State is no match for Loyola, but this team has been making things very easy for themselves lately. The Beavers are coming off a five-game winning streak in this game. That includes an impressive run by the top teams in the PAC-12 (UCLA, Oregon, Colorado) en route to the championship of the conference tournament.

Loyola’s defense has allowed 70 or more points just three times during the 2020-21 season, and is 0-3 in those games. If Oregon State wants to keep this game close, that should be their goal. Big man Kofi Cockburn scored 21 points in Loyola’s game against Illinois, but Oregon State is nowhere near the post game of Illinois and will have to rely on the deep ball, an area where it has barely made the top-100 this season. I don’t think Oregon State has the firepower to win this game against Loyola’s defense. Yes, they did it against Tennessee, but Loyola is on another level.

Vote for @IowaZach: Loyola-IL -6.5


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Baylor (-6.5) vs. Villanova

Villanova seemed to find a rhythm even after losing the heart and soul of the team in Colleen Gillespie. Led by James Robinson-Earl, ‘Nova was able to pressure Winthrop and Midwest North Texas in their pursuit of another title. They absolutely crushed North Texas, but Baylor seems to be a different beast now. The Bears got off to a rough start after a 21-day break in KOVID-19 in early February, but they are in better shape than ever in the tournament. Her offensive efficiency rating in KenPom’s three should put her in the Elite 8. They’ve allowed just 118 points in the first two rounds combined, making their current defense more consistent than their pre-breakup defense.

Guards can help win titles more than any other position, and Baylor has two absolute studs in Davion Mitchell and first-team All-American Jared Butler. The only problem Baylor’s defense has is breaking the glass, as they rank 232nd in offensive rebounds allowed. However, since they have the third highest revenue margin in the country, they should be able to overcome these counter-insurgency problems. If Robinson-Earl is wrong, Villanova is wrong. Jermaine Samuels can fill in if Robinson-Earl is out of position, but Baylor will set the pace in the attack. If they get a lead, Nova will have a hard time coming back given their 332 pace, according to KenPom. -8 will be the cutoff to bet in this game, so get a strong number while you still can.

Call @cwsdjt : Baylor -6.5

Arkansas (-11) vs Oral Roberts

There was no bigger story in the tournament than Oral Roberts’ Golden Eagle. Oral Roberts, one of only two 15-pointers to qualify for the Sweet 16, worked wonders against Ohio State and Florida State as a 15- and 9-point underdog, respectively.

Arkansas overcame an -8.5 spread in its first-round game against Colgate, as expected, and won in the second round as a 1.5-point underdog against the lower-ranked Texas Tech Raiders. It will be a battle between the two flying attacks. Each of these teams is averaging over 80 points per game, which ranks 12th (ORU) and 7th (ARC) in the country, albeit in different ways. Oral Roberts ranks first nationally with 11.3 three-pointers per game, but only 262nd in two-point shooting. They have one of the best guard/forward tandems in basketball with Max Abmas (24.6 points per game) and Kevin Aubanor (19.0 points per game) each shooting over 43% from beyond the arc. Arkansas, on the other hand, only goes to the basket. Led by 2020-21 SEC Rookie of the Year Moses Moody, the Razorbacks are a top-15 team in two-point shots made per game. They play at the 17th fastest pace in basketball, according to KenPom’s custom pace measure.

The real difference between these two teams is that Arkansas can defend. They are able to rebound at both ends of the mat and force turnovers with great regularity. The same cannot be said for Oral Roberts, who has statistically been one of the worst defenses in the country all season.

There is, however, good news for Oral Roberts. Arkansas doesn’t let them run with the ball, but they do let them make three-pointers. The Razorbacks have allowed 23.1 three-pointers per game this season, and as previously mentioned, that’s exactly what Oral Roberts specializes in.

As magical as it may be, I really think Oral Roberts’ historic journey ends in the Round of 16. Their shaky defense will be exposed to the Arkansas offense. But I think this match will be closer than expected. If the Golden Eagles can maintain their level of play and have a good shooting night from beyond the arc, they will keep this game close. Who knows, they might qualify for the Round of 16 as the 15 highest seeded. Crazier things have happened, but not in the NCAA tournament.

Vote for @IowaZach: Oral Roberts +11.5

Houston (-6) vs Syracuse

Buddy Boeheim is averaging 22 PPG in the Syracuse Orange’s first two games, but Houston is one of the toughest teams in the tournament for a reason. According to KenPom, they have a top 11 defense and a top 7 offense. Syracuse has just one offense in the top 17 that has clicked on all fronts so far in the tournament with impressive wins over West Virginia and San Diego State. The Panthers defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a relatively epic comeback. They’ve turned their cards over, and with the way the Orange handled Miles McBride and Derek Culver, they should be able to handle Quentin Grimes and Houston.

Syracuse will cut the tempo on defense with its patented 2-3 zone, but Houston will be able to overcome some aspects of the Orange’s defense that also play slow. However, the driving force behind this gamble is Syracuse’s ability to make three-pointers. If their offense can move the ball faster and get ahead, it will be hard for Houston to catch up to them. Houston will lock down the defense, but with an average of nearly 16.3 seconds per ball possession, let’s hope Syracuse maintains coverage even if they can’t win in the end. Play this game at +5.5.

Call @cwsdjt : Syracuse +6

That’s all, folks! Use promo code ONTAP at BetRivers to double your $250 deposit during March Madness. Also, don’t forget to follow @OnTapBets on Twitter, where the On Tap Bets team will be giving you tips and highlights throughout March Madness, so stay tuned!


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