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  • Writer's pictureMason Dalley




March Madness
USA Today

I will be following whatever picks I have remaining, but my bracket is shattered and these Best Bets are going to be more matchup oriented.

Dayton @ Arizona(-9.0)

DK -110

FD -120

We don't know who the real Dayton is at this point. Nevada stopped trying to score and played a bizarre prevent offenses and just didn't get any good looks. Arizona took care of business and I think that they'll break through to the 2nd weekend for the first time under Tommy Lloyd. Their offense is just too good for a team like Dayton that has yet to face anything like that.

Gonzaga(-4.5) @ Kansas

DK -108

FD -102

The Zags crushed McNeese while Kansas needed officiating to save them from Samford. The Jayhawks are just too banged up, too worn out for a Gonzaga team that's incredibly complete and ready for a deep run.

Michigan State @ North Carolina(-4.0)

DK -108

FD -110

It is Michigan State. It is Tom Izzo. Those are the colors of the second weekend. UNC is deep, experienced, and can make shots anywhere on the floor. I don't see Michigan State having an answer for RJ Davis or Armando Bacot. It's a step up in a weight class for the Spartans, and they've not been able to break through this season when they've had to step up.

Washington State @ Iowa State(-6.5)

DK -112

FD -106

Forget that Iowa State can grind you to dust,. Forget that they're efficient shot makers. Forget that last week they absolutely thrashed the number 2 overall seed in the tournament. The biggest thing that Wazzu has to over come is that this game is played in Nebraska and it's basically a Cyclones home game. The Cougars are a good team with some great wins, but I can see them having issues in what's a mirror match. Wazzu ranks 269th in pace of play while Iowa State ranks 253rd in pace of play. The big difference though is that Iowa state has a fantastic defense that runs opponents off the 3 point line and forces inefficient shots. Washington state just sort of runs a meandering offense that uses the clock. Give me the Cyclones

Oakland @ North Carolina State(-6.5)

DK -105

FD -120

Jack Gohlke will not hit 10 threes again. even if he hits 5 that impact will not be the same since unlike their last opponent, the Wolfpack aren't the youngest team in the tournament. Hand up, I still believed too much in NBA talent and how dominant Kentucky's offense has looked at points this season. What Thursday night taught me is that you need a mix of NBA talent and 5th year seniors. Reed Shepherd and Rob Dillingham are uber talented and are going to be lottery picks. They're still 18 and Cal just isn't the in game coach to elevate them in this new NIL era where every team is older and might even have tourney experience.

I say all that to say NC State has adults of their own. You have to answer 24 year olds with your own 23-24 year olds and that's exactly what DJ Burns is. DJ Burns is going to use his size advantage to dominate the paint as he has been since the ACC tournament, and Oakland will just not shoot as well as they did on Thursday. The Wolfpack understand how to play team defense and can zone break with Burns. Wolfpack all day.

Texas @ Tennessee( -6.5)

DK -112

FD -110

The Longhorns are big and athletic and can dominate on size alone if they need to. That only works against smaller schools. Tennessee has to put on for the rest of the SEC at this point, and they're capable of it. They have a bunch of experience and Dalton Knecht being a bucket anywhere on the court makes any team have to double him. Zeigler and Vescovi are very experienced guards, and they'll find Knecht for buckets or take advantage of the fact he's changed the math for the Longhorns defense. Jonas Aidoo is a sound enough defender that I think he'll be able to take away the Longorns rim running game, and when you take away their dunks, they get a case of the Virginias.

Duquesne @ Illinois( -10.5)

DK -110

FD -120

The Dukes are an incredibly fun story. Fun stories can't defend Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask. The Illini are big, get to the rack, and make their free throws. Their sheer size alone is going to be an issue for the Dukes, and they'll need some ridiculous shot making to overcome one of the best rebounding teams in the country. I don't think they'll be able to make enough shots to overcome how few possessions they'll end up having in this game.

Oregon @ Creighton(-4.5)

DK -112

FD -118

The Ducks are quacking. They've had a great PAC-12 tourney and thrashed the SEC regular season champs. While the Ducks soared over the Gamecocks, the Blue Jays are a different weight class. This bird fight is going to come down to the players execution. Dana Altman and Greg McDermott are great coaches so it's going to come down to the Jimmies and Joes. Ryan Kalkbrenner is an excellent rim protector so Jermaine Couisnard and N'Faly Dante are going to face their biggest challenge in the lane with Kalkbrenner roaming in the paint. Everybody can defend on Creighton so nothing will come easy for the Ducks.

So after grinding to score you get blitzed by an excellent shot making team. Creighton is a great 2 point shooting team along with having a top 20 overall FG% in the country. They also are an excellent free throw shooting team. They had this proficient an offenses with a difficult non-conference schedule and while playing in the Big East. They have a Big 3 of Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander, and Ryan Kalkbrenner, any of which can go for 30 any given game. Creighton can play any pace, and succeed, which is why I have them in the Final Four and won't be picking against them anytime soon.

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