Source: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a look at matchups set for the Elite Eight.

Pick your Fantasy Sports Elite Eight Winners Here

Texas Tech could reach its first Final Four, while Gonzaga’s a win from its second in three seasons

A showdown of two No. 1s determines the West Regional’s bid to the 2019 Final Four, as the top-ranked Texas Tech defense faces the nation’s best offense in Gonzaga.

The third-seeded Red Raiders and top seed Bulldogs advanced to Saturday’s Elite Eight at Honda Center with double-digit-point margins of victory in the Sweet 16, but the nature of their victories differed dramatically. Gonzaga used a balanced offense to overcome Florida State’s length and defensive prowess, ultimately pulling away from a four-point deficit late in the game.

Texas Tech physically battered Michigan and stymied every look the Wolverines had at the hoop. The Red Raiders’ overwhelming defense turned into offense in the second half, as star Jarrett Culver spread the wealth en route to a lopsided win.

The clash in styles sets the tone for this Elite Eight showdown.

Expect plenty of offense as one of these teams will break a lengthy Final Four drought

The Purdue Boilermakers and the Virginia Cavaliers do have some things in common. They both won their respective conference regular-season championship this year, they both received top-three seeds in this year’s NCAA Tournament, they’re looking to end their Final Four droughts (1980 for Purdue, 1984 for Virginia) and they’re both looking for their first-ever national championship. But that’s where the similarities end. Both teams thus far have surpassed Tournament expectations.

Purdue (26-9) has had a reputation of reaching the NCAA Tournament on a somewhat regular basis but struggles when trying to advance past the second round. Virginia (32-3), on the other hand, is still haunted by last year’s shocking upset loss in the first round to No. 16 UMBC. Now they must face one another in order to write the next chapter and continue to make history for their programs. Very few expected both of these teams to reach the Elite Eight, but here we are and this game will be fun to watch with a trip to the Final Four hanging in the balance.

The Boilermakers easily defeated Old Dominion and defending national champion Villanova in the first two rounds, but they needed overtime to defeat Tennessee in the Sweet 16 on Thursday after blowing an 18-point lead. The Cavaliers, however, have been shooting at will in this Tournament as they easily dispatched Gardner-Webb in round one, edged Oklahoma in round two, and staved off a pesky Oregon team in the Sweet 16. These are two of the best offensive teams in this Tournament and they’ll likely have to outshoot the other in order to advance.

Top two seeds in East Region meet in heavyweight battle for spot in Final Four

Two legendary coaches in Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski will meet each other with a Final Four berth on the line Sunday.

The Michigan State Spartans (31-6) and the Duke Blue Devils (32-5) will face off in Washington, D.C. on Sunday to determine the winner of the East Region and which team moves on to the Final Four in Minneapolis. On Friday night, No. 2 seed Michigan State handled No. 3 LSU 80-63. Hours later, No. 1 overall seed Duke escaped with a 75-73 win over ACC rival and No. 4 Virginia Tech.

Izzo and Krzyzewski have a combined 19 Final Four appearances between them but only one will be able to add to their career total this year.

SEC rivals meet for the third time this season with a Final Four berth on the line

One SEC team is guaranteed a Final Four berth in 2019.

Auburn and Kentucky will clash for a third time this season in the Midwest Regional Final on Sunday. The Tigers are playing in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1986 and have never advanced to the Final Four. The Wildcats, on the other hand, are seeking their first Final Four appearance since 2015.

It’s safe to say that Auburn faces long odds to get past Kentucky. The Wildcats swept the Tigers in the regular season and are the last team to hand Auburn a defeat. It certainly isn’t impossible though with how Auburn has played up to this point.

Auburn has won 11 straight games. The two most recent victories were convincing blowout wins over No. 4 seed Kansas and No. 1 North Carolina. The Tigers are on a roll offensively, averaging 88.0 points per game in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky has used defense to get to this point. The Wildcats are allowing 52.6 points per game to offset some average offensive performances. They scored just 62 points in wins over Wofford and Houston.


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Pictured: Corey Davis Jr, Zion Williamson and Carsen Edwards
Source: Getty Images North America

Here’s a look at all matchups set for the Sweet Sixteen.

Pick your Fantasy Sports Sweet 16 Winners Here

ACC foes meet for the second time this season with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line

A month ago, the Virginia Tech Hokies pulled off a 77-72 upset of the Duke Blue Devils. A lot has changed since the two teams met on Feb. 26 as they will play one another in the NCAA Tournament East Region semifinals on Friday night at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.

Of course, Duke fans will be quick to mention freshman forward Zion Williamson, the ACC”s Freshman and Player of the Year, did not play in that loss in Blacksburg. However, Virginia Tech senior guard Justin Robinson also missed the game. Both Williamson and Robinson are expected to play on Friday.

The Blue Devils (31-5), who are the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, barely escaped their second-round matchup against UCF 77-76. Williamson scored 32 points and collected a game-high 11 rebounds in the victory.

The Hokies (26-8), are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1962 and just the second time in program history. On Sunday, No. 4 seed Virginia Tech defeated No. 12 Liberty 67-58 out in San Jose, California, to advance to the regional semifinals. Robinson had 13 points in the victory, one of four Hokies in double figures, as Virginia Tech outscored the Flames by 12 in the second half to overcome a three-point halftime deficit.

Streaking Ducks look to knock off top-seeded Cavaliers in Louisville

Virginia is finally living up to expectations in the postseason. Can the Cavaliers keep it going while facing an Oregon team that is embracing a rare underdog role? That’s a question that doesn’t offer an easy answer.

The Ducks aren’t your typical No. 12 seed. Injuries dropped Oregon from a preseason Top 25 ranking. Now healthy again, the Ducks have ripped off 10 straight wins and dominated Wisconsin and UC Irvine to get to the Sweet 16. They have won their first two NCAA Tournament games by an average of 18.5 points while holding their opponents below 40 percent shooting from the field.

Virginia seems capable of taking the next step forward after reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016. The Cavaliers overcame a shaky first half to dispatch Gardner-Webb and were never really threatened by Oklahoma in the second round. They are winning with trademark smothering defense and patient offense.

Virginia and Oregon played a home-and-home series in 2010 and ’11. The Cavaliers won both games by an average margin of 14 points.

Seminoles, Bulldogs meet in Sweet 16 in West Regional for second straight year

The unofficial theme of the 2019 West Regional at Honda Center in Anaheim? Goin’ Back to Cali.

A year ago, Sweet 16 participants Florida State, Gonzaga and Michigan played in Los Angeles for the right to advance to the Final Four. The same three are back in Southern California, not far down the freeway in Anaheim. For Florida State and Gonzaga in particular, Thursday’s matchup is a case of deja vu. The two played in last year’s Sweet 16, with Florida State surprisingly dominant in a 75-60 win.

After coming one possession short of its first Final Four in almost a half-century, Florida State will look to rectify last year’s near-miss, starting with a redux of the 2018 Regional semifinal. For Gonzaga, the dream of a second Final Four this decade is still attainable.

A stark contrast in styles highlights this Sweet 16 rematch. Florida State comes in ranked No. 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency per Gonzaga, on the other hand, is No. 1 in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Tigers, Tar Heels meet in a matchup of two explosive offenses that like to pick up the pace

Auburn has proved its run through the SEC Tournament was no fluke. North Carolina has lived up to its billing and dominated as a No. 1 seed. Now the two clash in what could be one of the best Sweet 16 games we see on either Thursday or Friday.

The fifth-seeded Tigers have ripped off 10 straight wins to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003. Auburn hasn’t reached the Elite Eight since 1986. The Tigers have never reached a Final Four in their history.

The Tar Heels are looking to reach the Final Four for the third time in four years. North Carolina has had a great track record in Sweet 16 games under head coach Roy Williams. The Tar Heels have advanced to the Elite Eight eight times under Williams and have lost just once in the Sweet 16, falling to Wisconsin in 2015.

This is the second time these two teams have met in the NCAA Tournament. Auburn and North Carolina also clashed in the Sweet 16 in 1985. The Tar Heels won 62-56.

Tigers and Spartans clash in Washington D.C. with Elite Eight berth on the line

Four teams enter the nation’s capital fresh off a pair of NCAA Tournament wins. They haven’t all been pretty, they haven’t all been blowouts. But they’ve been wins, and in a time appropriately dubbed as “madness,” wins are simply the most important commodity to collect.

LSU makes its 10th appearance in the Sweet 16 and first since 2006. It has been a topsy-turvy ride for the third-seeded Tigers — who lost in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament to Florida — and have squeaked by in their first two NCAA Tournament wins by a combined seven points. Despite nearly blowing a double-digit lead to No. 6 Maryland, LSU pulled out the 69-67 win thanks to four players scoring in double figures, led by Skylar Mays’ 16 and Naz Reid’s 13.

In order to reach their first Elite Eight since 2006, the Tigers will have to contend with Michigan State, the Big Ten’s regular-season and tournament champion. The Spartans received a scare from No. 15 Bradley in the opening round, but they dispatched fellow Big Ten foe (and No. 10) Minnesota by 20 points in the Round of 32. The Spartans dominated the Gophers in most areas — including shooting 57 percent from the field (compared to Minnesota’s 30.5) and outrebounding them 45-19.

However, MSU committed 22 turnovers, its second-highest single-game total and just the third game this season with at least 20. If the Spartans want to make the most of their first Sweet 16 trip since 2015 (when the program also reached the Final Four), they will need to clean up that part of their game.

The two point guards squaring off might be some of the smallest players on the court, but they carry the biggest impact into this game. LSU’s Tremont Waters (5-11) led the SEC (and is third in Division I) with 2.97 steals per game, as the Tigers are a top-10 team in that category. On the other side, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston (6-1) is one of the best distributors in the sport. He’s dished out 7.5 assists per game — which tops the Big Ten and ranks third in Division I — and only Murray State standout Ja Morant (331 total assists this season) has more than Winston’s 271.

Boilermakers, Volunteers meet for the second straight season, this time for a spot in the Elite Eight

Purdue vs. Tennessee is not just one of the few Sweet 16 matchups that I correctly picked in my bracket this year. It also one could set the tone for the remainder of the NCAA Tournament.

Both the Boilermakers (25-9) and Volunteers (31-5) have more than held their own in one of the more competitive Tournament fields in recent memory. Purdue made short work of Old Dominion in the first round, then the Big Ten regular-season champs put the hammer down on defending national champion Villanova in the second round, beating the Wildcats by 26 points.

Tennessee, on the other hand, had to surge past a pesky Colgate team in the first round, then needed overtime to put away the Iowa Hawkeyes and not end up on the wrong end of a historic comeback. The Volunteers led by 25 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the first half and were up by 21 at halftime before Iowa stormed back. But Tennessee did what teams are supposed to do — survive and advance.

So now the question is can Purdue continue its Tournament domination, or will Tennessee find a way to outshoot and outscore another tough opponent? After facing Iowa, the Volunteers have an idea of what to expect against another Big Ten squad. This is UT’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2014 and they don’t want to waste it. This is the third straight Sweet 16 berth for the Boilermakers but they haven’t been able to make it past this round. These two teams faced each other last season in late November, a game the Volunteers won in overtime (78-75) on the road.

Two of the nation’s best defensive teams collide in Orange County

Michigan’s run to the national championship game a season ago went through Southern California. The Wolverines return, this time opening the West Regional against an opponent that fell short of its Final Four dreams a year ago, Texas Tech.

This clash of Big Ten and Big 12 teams features two of the very best defensive squads college basketball has to offer, with two of the game’s premier coaches on the sideline. For Michigan’s John Beilein, 2019 marks the seventh Sweet 16 appearance of his illustrious coaching career and fifth such trip at Michigan. The well-tenured Beilein has implemented a fluid brand of unselfish offensive basketball that complements the Wolverines’ No. 2-ranked adjusted defensive efficiency.

Beard’s overall track record is much shorter, but the 2019 Tournament is the third in four years in which Beard has coached a team winning at least one game. He led Arkansas-Little Rock to an upset of Purdue in 2016, and now in just his third season at Texas Tech has led the Red Raiders to consecutive Sweet 16s.

The next step for Texas Tech is to advance to the Final Four, while Michigan pursues its third appearance in the last six years.

Teams’ first-ever meeting on the court is for a spot in the Elite Eight

The NCAA Tournament has brought about many first-time matchups through the years, and we’ll get another one on Friday night when the Houston Cougars take on the Kentucky Wildcats with an Elite Eight berth on the line. The Cougars under Kelvin Sampson are enjoying their first 30-win campaign since the “Phi Slama Jama” era of the early 1980s, while the Wildcats have been constant championship contenders under head coach John Calipari. And when these two forces collide it could be a historic occasion.

Houston (33-3) took out both Georgia State and Ohio State in the previous two rounds, winning by a total of 44 points. Kentucky (29-6) made short work of Abilene Christian in the first round, then survived a close game with Wofford last Saturday. This is the eighth Sweet 16 appearance for UK in the Calipari era, while the Cougars are playing in this round for the first time since 1984 when the team led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler went on to lose to Georgetown in the national championship game.

This will be the second SEC team that Houston has played this season. The Cougars beat fellow Sweet 16 participant LSU at home back in December. As for Kentucky, this will be the Wildcats’ first matchup with a team from the American Athletic Conference (AAC) since defeating Cincinnati in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. This also will be the schools’ first-ever meeting.

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Pictured: Corey Davis Jr, Zion Williamson and Carsen Edwards
Source: Getty Images North America

Duke hopes to end in Minneapolis how they started… as the No. 1 team

Usually at this time of year, we’re all discussing whether Cinderella can continue their magical run through the NCAA Tournament. This year however?

Chalk. Lots of it.

While the field has been narrowed down from 68, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that those plucky little underdogs are nowhere to be found. All those high seeds — and there are plenty of them right now — mean this year’s edition of the Tournament could have one of its best-ever second weekends. From the Hall of Fame coaches to the future NBA lottery picks, there’s plenty of high-level basketball to be played over the coming days and the 2019 national champion will surely be the cream of the crop as a result.

Pick your Fantasy Sports March Madness Winners Here

How do all those remaining college basketball teams stack up against each other though? After taking in the first two rounds, here’s a re-seeding of those teams still left dancing in the Sweet 16:

1. North Carolina

The top seed in the Midwest is playing more like the top seed in the entire Tournament — and have been for over a month now. Their tempo can really be difficult to match and Roy Williams has been dialing up the right moves in March for a long time now, which is as good of an asset as it is having veterans like Luke Maye to go out and execute. Having Nassir Little break out during the first weekend only enhances the fact that the Tar Heels are playing like the team to beat.

2. Duke

Yes, the Blue Devils were lucky to survive and advance out of that second-round game against UCF. Here’s the thing though, just about every title-winning team has to say that they are both lucky and good at some point in this kind of tourney. We know Duke certainly is good with Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, R.J. Barrett, Tre Jones et al. and now we know they’re a bit lucky too. It’s a tough road but Coach K and company have to still like their odds of making it to Minneapolis.

3. Gonzaga

Five straight Sweet 16s is quite the accomplishment for Mark Few and this is one of his most well-rounded group of players yet. Brandon Clarke’s monster game against an athletic Baylor squad in the second round should help serve notice that while Rui Hachimura gets most of the attention, the Bulldogs can beat you a dozen different ways.

4. Virginia

You would have to forgive the Cavaliers for being a bit nervous during the first weekend given what happened last year to them in the first round. At the same time, you also have to give them credit for eventually finding their sea legs and looking a lot like the team who earned the No. 1 seed in the South for a terrific regular season. This is Tony Bennett’s best offensive-minded group yet and when you add that to their terrific defense, the time is certainly now for the elusive Final Four trip.

5. Michigan State

Another squad that seemed to be looking ahead a bit in the first round, the Spartans really showed what they are capable of in trouncing their conference foe Minnesota to make it to the Sweet 16. Tom Izzo’s sideline demeanor has been the focus of most talking heads but not enough has been paid to how well this group plays as a team. Their biggest obstacle is probably the fact that their Final Four road likely goes through Duke but this is an excellent all-around squad.

6. Michigan

The Wolverines probably look at the West region with a bit of deja vu given the similarities to last year but they know that a Final Four bid is there for the taking. They had one of the most effortless first weekends of anybody on this list and their defense is absolutely ferocious. John Beilein might be the best coach in the game at the moment and he’s got the squad to keep going well past the Sweet 16.

7. Texas Tech

The Red Raiders top-notch defense was on full display in that impressive clamp-down of high-flying Buffalo in the second round. They’ve got the horses on the other end though too, as Jarrett Culver keeps shooting up NBA draft boards with the way he’s playing on both ends of the court. Chris Beard has done a phenomenal job this season and could be saving the best for last.

8. Tennessee

In terms of talent, the Volunteers should be much higher on this list. But after getting pushed by Colgate and then letting Iowa storm back to force an improbable overtime, there are real concerns about the group from Knoxville and beyond. Admiral Schofield has the talent to be the best player in the Tournament but the way he pulled himself out of OT against the Hawkeyes combined with Rick Barnes as head coach leave Tennessee as quite the enigma at the moment.

9. Kentucky

Let’s face it, PJ Washington’s health holds back the Wildcats from really being the title threat that they looked like a few weeks ago. Credit to John Calipari though, he’s got his youngsters playing hard on both ends and really making sure everybody is comfortable in their role. They survived Wofford thanks to a (statistically impossible) off night from Fletcher Magee and will have to be better in all areas if they want to make it to the Twin Cities.

10. Purdue

Credit to Matt Painter’s crew, who just might be the hottest team on this list save maybe the Ducks. The offense is certainly clicking at a high level and there are threats to worry about even if Carsen Edwards isn’t the one going off like he’s in NBA Jam. Not just beating the defending champs but running them off the floor served notice that the Boilermakers need to be taken extra seriously by all the teams that stand in their way.

11. Florida State

It sounds as though Phil Cofer is not going to return to the court for the Seminoles, which is a tough blow for the team in terms of his senior leadership and because of the tragic loss of his father. Raiquan Gray has played solidly in his absence and Terance Mann is stepping up his game for this uber-athletic squad but there’s a big jump in level of play with the long trip West in the Sweet 16.

12. Houston

It’s incredible to believe that the Cougars are back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since Phi Slama Jama caught the attention of fans far and wide. While this group does seem a bit like a fish out of water amongst blue bloods and other power conference opponents, make no mistake — they can play. Corey Davis is really an underrated player and they’ve gotten all the right moves out of head coach Kelvin Sampson.

13. Auburn

The Tigers haven’t been on a run like this since Charles Barkley was in uniform on the Plains and not in the studio cheering the team on. The effort against Kansas was one of the most all-around impressive ones in this Tournament and Bruce Pearl has his guys playing hard every time out on the court.

14. LSU

The Tigers survived a thriller against Maryland to make it to the Sweet 16 and there’s no question they have the talent to make it to the Elite Eight and beyond. That said, they’re still a team without their head coach and without Will Wade, there certainly seems like there is a ceiling with this group. That’s not to say they can’t exceed expectations, just that they’re tempered a bit going forward.

15. Oregon

There’s something about the Ducks under Dana Altman when the calendar turns to March. He’s getting the absolute most out of his group, which is as hot as they come the last few games. Payton Pritchard is hitting big shot after big shot and nobody really wants to challenge Kenny Wooten. Yes, it’s a tall task being the only double-digit seed remaining but there’s certainly something brewing the last couple of weeks.

16. Virginia Tech

Hats off to Buzz Williams, who has the noted football school dancing in the Sweet 16 for the first time. The Hokies are a balanced group and have the benefit of knowing that they have beaten their upcoming opponent just a few weeks ago. They get the benefit of playing pretty close to home and that could be the difference even as they make the trip to Washington, D.C. as a noted underdog.

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Pictured (left to right): Corey Davis Jr, Zion Williamson and Carsen Edwards
Source: Getty Images North America

Here’s how the Sweet 16 looks

Need an updated 2019 NCAA Tournament bracket to embrace the full March Madness? We’ve got you covered, with a look at which teams made the Sweet 16 and which teams they beat to get there. 

Pick your Fantasy Sports March Madness Winners Here

Here are the 16 teams remaining in the tournament (alphabetical listing)…









Michigan State





Texas Tech


Virginia Tech

Here’s a complete rundown of the remaining 2019 NCAA Tournament schedule:

Thursday, March 28 & Saturday, March 30 – South (Louisville, Ky.) and West (Anaheim, Calf.) Regionals

Friday, March 29 & Sunday, March 31 – East (Washington, D.C.) and Midwest Regionals (Kansas City, Mo.)

Saturday, April 6 – Final Four (Minneapolis)

Monday, April 8 – National Championship (Minneapolis)

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Pictured: Jaylen Nowell
Source: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images North America

Take a look at the matchups set in the First Round Midwest Region.

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Huskies and Aggies set to face off in Columbus

One of the better No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchups will be played on Friday as the Washington Huskies and the Utah State Aggies are set to face off against each other. The Huskies (26-8) are coming off of a loss to Oregon in the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament while the Aggies (28-6) won the Mountain West Tournament to extend their winning streak to 10 in a row.

Washington made it all the way to the final game of the Pac-12 Tournament but the Huskies have had their issues recently. They are just 4-3 over their last seven games with all of those wins coming by no more than five points. But Washington doesn’t lack for talent as the team features Pac-12 Player of the Year Jaylen Nowell as well as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, Matisse Thybulle.

Meanwhile Utah State is in the midst of a 17-1 run that has the Aggies in the polls for the first time since the 2010-11 season. This also is the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011.

Buckeyes take on the Big 12 Tournament champs in Tulsa

Two of college basketball’s premiere conferences will go head-to-head in the NCAA Tournament when the Big Ten’s Ohio State and Big 12’s Iowa State face off in the first round on Friday. While both teams haven’t been strangers to the Big Dance it’s been a few years since either has made a deep run. The Buckeyes (19-14) made it to the Elite Eight in 2013, were in the Final Four the year before that, and haven’t won a national title since back in 1960. The Cyclones (23-11) last made the Sweet 16 in 2016, the Elite Eight in 2000 but haven’t been to the Final Four since 1944.

Ohio State was the last of the eight Big Ten teams to get an invite to the Big Dance. The Buckeyes tied for eighth in the conference with a 8-12 record and after stumbling down the stretch (3-7 in their last 10), appeared headed for the NIT. But Chris Holtmann’s team’s total body of work, which includes wins over NCAA Tournament teams Cincinnati, Iowa, and Minnesota, was enough in the selection committee’s eyes. Another contributing factor to Ohio State’s late-season kid was the three-game suspension of Kaleb Wesson, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.

Iowa State (23-11) won its way into the NCAA Tournament, taking the Big 12 Tournament title for the second time in three years to get the automatic bid. Steve Prohm’s team went 9-9 in the regular season, but took down higher seeds and fellow NCAA Tournament teams Baylor, Kansas State, and Kansas to cut down the nets in Kansas City. After a one-year absence, the Cyclones are back in the Big Dance and don’t want to be one and done.

Both of these teams have something to prove and the NCAA Tournament is the perfect stage to make that happen.

Pirates look to slow down the streaking Terriers

There probably isn’t a hotter team in the nation than Wofford heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers own a 20-game winning streak and feature an offense that scores in bunches. Seton Hall gets the not-so-simple task of becoming the latest team to try and contain the Southern Conference champs.

Wofford earning a No. 7 seed is no fluke. The Terriers lost only to North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi State, and Oklahoma during the regular season. They went unbeaten in conference play and have one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams.

Seton Hall teetered on the bubble with several bad losses before winning four of five and reaching the Big East Tournament championship game to nail down an at-large bid and a No. 10 seed. The Pirates are a strong defensive team, but also struggle on offense enough to cancel it out at times.

Seton Hall is seeking NCAA Tournament victories in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1993. A win for Wofford would be the school’s first in six NCAA Tournament appearances.

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Pictured: Markus Howard
Source: Drew Hallowell / Getty Images North America

Take a look at the matchups set in the First Round West Region.

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Two of college basketball’s most exciting players lead their teams into an opening round showdown

At 25 and 24.6 points per game respectively, Marquette’s Markus Howard and Murray State’s Ja Morant are the two highest-scoring players in the 2019 NCAA Tournament field. They headline a first-round showdown on Thursday that has all the makings of a classic 12-over-5 upset.

Marquette limps into the Tournament with losses in five of its last six. Howard told reporters on Monday he was ready to go at full strength despite suffering a wrist injury in the Big East Tournament, and there’s no doubt the Golden Eagles need him. He went off for more than 50 points twice in the regular season, showing an offensive repertoire similar to that of Arizona State legend and longtime NBA mainstay Eddie House.

Howard’s an intriguing NBA prospect; so, too, is Morant. Morant burst onto the scene this season, generating draft talk in league with noteworthy names like Duke freshmen phenoms Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. The high-flying Morant and his Murray State teammates aren’t thinking about June’s draft, though. The OVC champions want to dance on.

Nevada, one of last year’s Tournament darlings who lost by one point to Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16, are the ones on upset alert.

On Thursday, the Florida Gators and the Nevada Wolf Pack will get together for a traditional No. 7 vs. No. 10 matchup in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Although the Gators finished their SEC season with a 9-9 record, the club made it all the way to the semifinals of their conference tournament before losing to eventual champion Auburn.

Nevada, on the other hand, has been ranked in the Top 25 of both polls for the entire season (the majority of that time in the top 10) and has already collected 29 wins. The Wolf Pack were upset in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament by San Diego State and hope to avoid a similar fate on Thursday.

A pair of teams looking to put disappointing regular-season finishes behind them face off in Salt Lake City

Neither Baylor nor Syracuse are strangers to NCAA Tournament success during this decade. For that reason, their matchup on Thursday in Salt Lake City promises to be one of the must-see first-round games.

The Orange made Final Four runs in 2013 and ’16. They also reached the Elite Eight in 2012 and the Sweet 16 in ’10 and ’18. The Bears made a Sweet 16 run a year ago and in 2014. Before that, Baylor reached the Elite Eight in 2010 and ’12.

Both teams landed lower seeds after key injuries caused them to pile up losses late in the season. The Bears lost four straight coming into the tournament and the Orange dropped five of seven.

Baylor is making its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bears earned their lowest seed since being awarded a No. 11 seed in 2008. Syracuse is in the 68-team field for the third time in four seasons. The Orange are a No. 8 seed for just the second time in their history after being awarded the same seed in 1999.

Sun Devils look to ride momentum of First Four victory when they take on the Bulls in Tulsa

Can Buffalo take the next step forward and solidify an identity as an emerging basketball power? That’s the question facing the Bulls as they take on Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Arizona State enters the game with major momentum after crushing St. John’s 74-65 in the First Four on Wednesday. The Sun Devils held the Red Storm to 25 first-half points on 30 percent shooting and led by double digits for most of the game.

Buffalo is no stranger to facing Pac-12 teams in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulls obliterated Pac-12 champion Arizona in the first round a year ago as a No. 13 seed. This time around, everything is a bit different. Buffalo has taken on the role of the hunted instead of the hunter. The Bulls eclipsed 30 wins and rose to No. 15 in the final AP Top 25 Poll.

Adding an interesting wrinkle to the mix is that former Bulls head coach Bobby Hurley will be facing his old school for the first time. Hurley led Buffalo to the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015 before departing for Arizona State. He has sparked a renaissance in Tempe, leading the Sun Devils to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 1981.

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Source: Brian Spurlock / USA Today Sports

Take a look at the matchups set in the first four.

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Winner of this game claims program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory and advances to face No. 1 seed Gonzaga

Since it’s implementation in 2011 some have treated the First Four stage of the NCAA Tournament as either an unnecessary play-in game or a glorified losers bracket. But for the two teams that will kick off this year’s First Four, it’s the first step in a journey towards a championship. When the Prairie View A&M Panthers (22-12) square off against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (20-13) in Dayton, Ohio, you can expect the 2019 NCAA Tournament to get off to an exciting start. Both teams come into this game with plenty of momentum. And when you consider that the West Region’s No. 1 seed in Gonzaga is waiting on the other side, momentum is a good thing.

Prairie View A&M started their season slow (1-11) but has saved its best basketball for last. The Panthers have won 11 in a row, claiming their fourth SWAC regular-season championship in the process. They won their second SWAC Tournament trophy by outscoring the opposition 259-223 in three games to secure the conference’s automatic bid. Fairleigh Dickinson also enters the Big Dance on a hot streak, winners of eight in a row and 10 of their past 12. The Knights punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament by winning their sixth Northeast Conference Tournament title, beating regular-season champ St. Francis (Pa.) in the final.

Both teams are a combined 0-6 in the NCAA Tournament so one of these teams will make history on Tuesday night in Dayton.

Owls and Bruins square off in Dayton with a meeting against No. 6 Maryland at stake

For the ninth year since its inception in 2011 when the field expanded to 68 teams, the First Four will kick off the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday from Dayton, Ohio. With each day featuring a 16-seed matchup followed by a showdown between two 11-seeds, the First Four provides the perfect appetizer for the complete chaos that begins Thursday.

The first of those 11-seed games showcases two of the last four teams to earn at-large selections in Temple and Belmont. Both the Owls and Bruins were on the edge of their seats on Selection Sunday but were ecstatic to hear of their inclusion in the field of 68 despite losses in their respective conference tournaments, Temple in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) quarterfinals to Wichita State, and Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) final to Murray State.

The winner of this First Four matchup — which will mark the inaugural meeting between the two programs — will square off with No. 6 Maryland in the East Region in Jacksonville, Florida, on Thursday.

The selection to the tournament snaps mini-droughts for both teams, as Temple is dancing for the first time 2016. Belmont is making its first appearance since 2015 and more importantly, its first ever as an at-large selection. Both teams are led by incredibly well-respected and experienced head coaches in the Owls’ Fran Dunphy (13th season at school) and Bruins’ Rick Byrd (34th).

The MEAC and Summit League Tournament champions square off with a date against Duke at stake

A pair of Division II powerhouses in the 20th century, North Carolina Central and North Dakota State meet on the grandest stage Division I basketball has to offer.

The winners of the MEAC and Summit League tournaments respectively have roots in D-II but are hardly newcomers to the March Madness scene. The 2019 NCAA Tournament marks North Dakota State’s fourth appearance in the field since 2009, although it’s the Bison’s first bid since ’15. They released the stranglehold South Dakota State previously held on the Summit’s automatic bid to earn their way in.

For North Carolina Central, 2019 marks the Eagles’ third straight appearance in the Big Dance, and fourth all-time dating back to ’14. NCCU alum LeVelle Moton has flourished coaching his alma mater and heads into Wednesday’s matchup in Dayton seeking another program milestone: Its first NCAA Tournament win.

Red Storm and Sun Devils meet for the second time in three years for the chance to face Buffalo on Friday

For the second straight season, Arizona State earned one of the last four at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament and will face fellow No. 11 seed St. John’s on Wednesday night in Dayton. Will the Sun Devils fare better in their return trip to the First Four? Or will the Red Storm break through with their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2000?

Both teams held a precarious spot on the bubble after piling up multiple bad losses outside the top quadrant. Arizona State seems to be back on track after winning six of its last eight games. St. John’s stumbled badly down the stretch. The Red Storm have lost five of their last seven games heading into the NCAA Tournament.

These two teams have played twice previously in the regular season and split those games. The Red Storm earned a 67-58 victory in 2010 while the Sun Devils prevailed 82-70 in ’17.

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Source: Andy Lyons / Getty Images North America

SEC Tournament 2019

It’s been a strong season for SEC basketball, and some of the top teams in the country will be on display in the conference’s tournament this week.

The SEC tournament is back in Nashville this year, beginning on Wednesday, after it was held in St. Louis last season. The tourney is taking place at Bridgestone Arena, which hosted it from 2015-17.

Last year, no SEC teams were in the top 10 in the AP Top 25 poll entering the conference tournament. This season, there are three—No. 4 Kentucky, No. 8 Tennessee and No. 9 LSU. Auburn is also ranked at No. 22.

All 14 SEC teams will participate in the conference tournament, with a pair of first-round matchups starting the action on Wednesday.

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SEC Tournament Schedule (All Times ET)

Wednesday, March 13

No. 12 Missouri vs. No. 13 Georgia (7 p.m., SEC Network)

No. 11 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Vanderbilt (25 minutes after end of previous game, SEC Network)


Thursday, March 14

No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas (1 p.m., SEC Network)

No. 5 Auburn vs. Winner of No. 12 Missouri vs. No. 13 Georgia (25 minutes after end of previous game, SEC Network)

No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Alabama (7 p.m., SEC Network)

No. 6 Mississippi State vs. Winner of No. 11 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Vanderbilt (25 minutes after end of previous game, SEC Network)


Friday, March 15

No. 1 LSU vs. Winner of No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas (1 p.m., ESPN)

No. 4 South Carolina vs. Winner of No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12 Missouri/No. 13 Georgia (25 minutes after end of previous game, ESPN)

No. 2 Kentucky vs. Winner of No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Alabama (7 p.m., SEC Network)

No. 3 Tennessee vs. Winner of No. 6 Mississippi State vs. No. 11 Texas A&M/No. 14 Vanderbilt (25 minutes after end of previous game, SEC Network)


Saturday, March 16

Semifinal No. 1 (1 p.m., ESPN)

Semifinal No. 2 (25 minutes after end of previous game, ESPN)


Sunday, March 17

Championship (1 p.m., ESPN)


SEC Tournament Championship Odds (Via OddsShark)

Kentucky +200 (Bet $100 to win $200)

Tennessee +200

Auburn +400

LSU +450

Mississippi State +1200

Florida +1400

Ole Miss +4000

Alabama +6600

Arkansas +6600

South Carolina +6600

Missouri +10000

Texas A&M +10000

Georgia +15000

Vanderbilt +30000



Favorites: Kentucky and Tennessee

The Wildcats and Vols have the best odds to win this year’s SEC tournament championship, and it’s quite likely the two schools will match up in the semifinal on the bottom side of the bracket.

It’s easy to see why these two teams are the favorites entering the tourney. Kentucky and Tennessee played each other in last year’s tournament championship, and both have been strong teams this season.

The Wildcats are 26-5, with three of their losses coming against strong opponents in Duke, LSU and Tennessee. The Vols are 27-4, and they won 23 of their first 24 games this season.

Kentucky and Tennessee split its season series: The Wildcats won 86-69 on Feb. 16, while the Vols got revenge with a 71-52 victory on March 2.

There’s a good chance that whichever team wins the third meeting between these two schools in the semifinal will go on to win this year’s SEC tournament championship.

Last year, the Tigers shared the SEC regular-season championship with Tennessee. But as the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney, they lost their first game, falling to Alabama in the quarterfinals.

The outside expectations aren’t quite as high for Auburn this year. The Tigers are 22-9, winning their last four games of the regular season to climb to the No. 5 seed for this year’s SEC tournament.

However, Auburn could be building momentum at the right time after beating Tennessee to end the regular season.

If the Tigers reach the final, they may have to knock off No. 1 seed LSU in the semifinal. After falling as the top seed last year, this could be Auburn’s chance to have that happen to the Tigers this season.

Winner: Kentucky

The Wildcats have dominated the SEC tournament in recent seasons, and that run won’t come to an end yet.

Although the conference has more strong teams than in some past years, Kentucky is still the best among the group. With head coach John Calipari at the helm, the Wildcats typically round into form around March.

That won’t be any different this year. The Wildcats will win their fifth straight SEC tournament championship and secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

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Source: Jamie Squire / Getty Images North America

Big 12 Tournament 2019

Big 12 basketball is in an unfamiliar state heading into its conference tournament, as Kansas is not favored to come out on top in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Regular-season co-champions Kansas State and Texas Tech are the favorites to take the title Saturday night at Sprint Center. 

Of course, Bill Self’s Jayhawks will try to have a say in which program leaves with the conference-tournament crown, but they aren’t the only underdogs looking to make a splash over the next few days. 

Starting with TCU in the tournament opener Wednesday, there are a few Big 12 teams who will be playing with the extra motivation of securing their spots in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament by the time they leave Kansas City.

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Opening odds to win the Big 12 Conference Tournament:

Texas Tech +140

Kansas State +350

Kansas +400

Iowa State +600

Texas +900

Baylor +1200

TCU/Oklahoma +2200

West Virginia/Oklahoma State +10000


All Times ET. 

Wednesday, March 13

No. 8 TCU vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State (7 p.m., ESPNU)

No. 7 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 West Virginia (9 p.m., ESPNU)


Thursday, March 14

No. 4 Baylor vs. No. 5 Iowa State (12:30 p.m., ESPN2) 

No. 1 Kansas State vs. TCU/Oklahoma State winner (2:30 p.m., ESPN2) 

No. 2 Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma/West Virginia winner (7 p.m., ESPN2) 

No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 6 Texas (9 p.m., ESPN2) 


Friday, March 15

Semifinal No. 1 (7 p.m., ESPN2) 

Semifinal No. 2 (9:30 p.m., ESPN2) 


Saturday, March 16

Championship (6 p.m., ESPN) 



Results Lead to 6 NCAA Tournament Teams From Big 12

It’s safe to assume five teams are locked into the field of 68 from the Big 12, but there could be as many eight programs chosen by the selection committee to participate in the NCAA tournament. 

Kansas State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State are all safe and playing to better their respective seeds in the Big Dance. 

After that, it gets a bit messy, as there are mixed opinions on Texas, TCU and Oklahoma, who are the three other programs with realistic chances of qualifying for March Madness.

Before they take on much more difficult tasks in the quarterfinals, TCU and Oklahoma have to avoid bad losses in Wednesday’s first round, and given how poorly Oklahoma State and West Virginia have played, the Horned Frogs and Sooners should be able to cruise into Thursday’s set of games.

Both TCU and Oklahoma are in safe spots in the latest bracket projection from’s Jerry Palm, but’s Joe Lunardi has the Horned Frogs as his third-to-last team into the field of 68.

By winning Wednesday’s openers, the Horned Frogs and Sooners will give themselves the opportunity to earn another quality win over the top two seeds in the tournament.

If TCU knocks off Kansas State, Jamie Dixon’s team should move up in the bracket projections, while a loss would leave it waiting until Selection Sunday to learn its fate. 

As for Oklahoma, it is a bit safer than TCU, but given how chaotic the bubble can get during Championship Week, it won’t want to risk losing to Texas Tech for the third time this season.

And then there’s Texas, which has the unenviable task of taking on a motivated Kansas team in the quarterfinals.

According to Lunardi, the Longhorns are one of the last four teams earning byes into the round of 64, while Palm doesn’t have Shaka Smart’s team in his latest projection. 

Texas is more likely to knock off an inconsistent Kansas team and earn a spot in the Big 12 semifinals than TCU or Oklahoma is to upset one of the top two teams.

Although the three teams in need of wins will put up strong fights, they won’t be able to produce upsets, and due to the fluidity of the bubble, TCU and Texas fail to qualify for the field of 68, while Oklahoma barely sneaks in. 

Kansas Earns Chance to Bring Home Hardware

Kansas is always under a microscope when it reaches the national stage, but it will receive extra attention after failing to extend its 14-year regular-season title streak. 

The Jayhawks have been one of the most up-and-down teams in the nation, but they have a chance to turn things around in Kansas City and head into the NCAA tournament with plenty of momentum.

After beating Texas in the quarterfinals, the Jayhawks play tough against a Texas Tech team they split the regular-season series with. 

Containing the Red Raiders’ talented collection of scorers, led by Jarrett Culver, is going to be difficult, but Self will draw up a defensive game plan to frustrate Chris Beard’s players. 

Dedric Lawson will be one of the keys to success down low for the Jayhawks, as he continues his strong scoring season, but it’ll be the Kansas guards who end up as the X-factors. 

Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji and Quentin Grimes need to take a step up in their respective games for Kansas to play at a championship level, and with almost a week off to prepare for the trip to Kansas City, they’ll come out with an extra boost.

Dotson and Agbaji achieved success versus Texas Tech in the February 2 win at Allen Fieldhouse in which the duo combined for 30 points. 

If Lawson, Dotson and Agbaji are able to score on a consistent basis in the semifinals, the Jayhawks will land a potential third rivalry clash with Kansas State. 

In the championship, all of the pressure will be on the top-seeded Wildcats to win, and with Kansas embracing the underdog mentality, it’ll give Bruce Weber’s team one of its toughest tests of the season.

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Source: Elsa / Getty Images North America

Big East Tournament 2019

If you’re looking for madness before the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, we strongly suggest tuning into the 2019 Big East tournament. 

The Big East was one of the most unpredictable leagues throughout the college basketball season, and with a few desperate teams entering Madison Square Garden, every game should produce its share of excitement. 

Although Villanova and Marquette are the top two seeds, they are from guaranteed to make Saturday’s championship game since they both experienced rough patches of form during conference play. 

Because the Big East regular season was so volatile, almost every team seeded from third to 10th is playing to solidify their positions in the field of 68.

Recent tournament history suggests some upsets will occur at Madison Square Garden, as the top two seeds have never met in the final since the Big East realigned ahead of the 2013-14 campaign.

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Championship Pick

Seton Hall over Creighton 

After going over the Big East tournament bracket in depth, we’re choosing to embrace the chaos that erupted throughout the league in the regular season.

Since top-seeded Villanova has been susceptible to upsets all season and No. 2 seed Marquette enters on a four-game losing streak, we’re not ready to put full trust behind either team to stay alive until Saturday. 

Seton Hall and Creighton are both more than capable of making runs to the championship game and knocking off the top seeds on their sides of the bracket in the process. 

The Pirates are riding high after upsetting Villanova in their regular-season finale, and they’ll get a chance to take on struggling Marquette in the semifinals if form somehow holds. 

Myles Powell will be the reason why Kevin Willard’s Pirates surge into the championship game, as the guard adds his name to Big East tournament lore with a few standout performances. 

Powell, who averages 22.6 points per game, is a star within Big East circles, but he hasn’t received a ton of national recognition during his career.

That will change as the junior guard, who has scored over 20 points in his last four games, takes over the spotlight in wins over Georgetown and either Marquette or St. John’s.

Powell’s exploits at Madison Square Garden will safely place the Pirates into the NCAA tournament. Currently, the Pirates are a No. 10 seed in projections made by’s Joe Lunardi and’s Jerry Palm.

In the championship game, the Pirates defeat Creighton, who enters as the most dangerous team in the Big East with a five-game winning streak and a NCAA tournament berth to play for. 

In Lunardi’s most-recent projection, the Bluejays are the third team out behind Indiana and Belmont, while Palm has them has one of his last four in.

In order to leave out any doubt regarding their resume, the Bluejays need to beat Xavier in the quarterfinals and then take down Villanova, who they lost to twice in the regular season.

By avenging defeats to the top-seeded Wildcats in the semifinals, Ty-Shon Alexander, Martin Krampelj and the Bluejays should assure themselves of a spot in the field of 68. 

Of course, the easiest path to the Big Dance for Creighton is to win Saturday’s final, but we don’t believe any team will be able to stop Powell and the Pirates in New York City. 

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Pictured: Kyle Guy
Source: Abbie Parr / Getty Images North America

ACC Tournament 2019

The three titans of the ACC are expected to thrive at the 2019 ACC tournament with No. 1 seeds in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on the line. 

Virginia, who won the regular-season crown, enters the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the No. 1 seed, while North Carolina and Duke are on the same side of the bracket as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively. 

But before the Cavaliers, Tar Heels and Blue Devils hit the floor, a crucial game with NCAA tournament bubble implications has to be played. 

While Tuesday’s opening games at the ACC tournament might not be intriguing, the competition heats up Wednesday, and it will only continue to get better as it builds up to Saturday’s championship game.

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All Times ET. 

Tuesday, March 12

No. 12 Miami vs. No. 13 Wake Forest (Noon) 

No. 10 Georgia Tech vs. No. 15 Notre Dame (2 p.m.) 

No. 11 Boston College vs. No. 14 Pittsburgh (7 p.m.) 


Wednesday, March 13

No. 8 NC State vs. No. 9 Clemson (Noon) 

No. 5 Virginia Tech vs. Miami/Wake Forest winner (2 p.m.) 

No. 7 Louisville vs. Georgia Tech/Notre Dame winner (7 p.m.) 

No. 6 Syracuse vs. Boston College/Pittsburgh winner (9 p.m.) 


Thursday, March 14

No. 1 Virginia vs. NC State/Clemson winner (12:30 p.m.) 

No. 4 Florida State vs. Virginia Tech vs. Miami/Wake Forest winner (2:30 p.m.)

No. 2 North Carolina vs. Louisville vs. Georgia Tech/Notre Dame winner (7 p.m.) 

No. 3 Duke vs. Syracuse vs. Boston College/Pittsburgh winner (9 p.m.) 


Friday, March 15

Semifinal No. 1 (7 p.m.) 

Semifinal No. 2 (9 p.m.) 


Saturday, March 16 

Championship (8:30 p.m.) 



Clemson Beats NC State In Bubble Showdown 

The first game in Charlotte with NCAA tournament significance opens Wednesday’s slate.

Clemson and NC State both have work left to do in order to secure their respective spots in the field of 68, and luckily for the selection committee, the head-to-head meeting in the ACC tournament should provide some clarity.

NC State, who won the regular-season meeting with the Tigers, is one of the last four teams in, according to’s Joe Lunardi, but’s Jerry Palm has the Wolfpack as one of his first four teams out.

The Wolfpack are once again associated with the bubble after losing two of their last three regular-season games to Florida State and Georgia Tech, the latter of which was especially bad. 

Clemson is the second-to-last team in, according to Lunardi and Palm’s most-recent projections. 

Conversely, Clemson enters Charlotte with wins in four of its last five games, including back-to-back victories over Notre Dame and Syracuse. 

The Tigers are playing the better basketball, and we’re picking them to advance into the quarterfinals for a matchup against Virginia.

Senior guard Marcquise Reed will be the driving force of Clemson’s victory, as he enters the ACC tournament off five 20-plus point performances in his last six games. 

Clemson might not be able to earn a quality win over Virginia, but by beating NC State, it will separate itself from at least one of its fellow bubble contenders.

Virginia Adds To Trophy Case

Virginia has an opportunity to become the first back-to-back ACC tournament champion since Duke won three in a row from 2009-2011.

Although the road to the championship will be difficult for Tony Bennett’s team, it appears to be focused on not suffering a postseason disappointment again in 2019. 

The Cavaliers, who should secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament if they win the ACC tournament, have only lost to Duke this season. 

Of course, a third meeting with Duke in the ACC tournament final would be an ideal outcome for the Cavaliers, as a final quality win would reinforce their resume to earn a No. 1 seed. 

With Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Co. hungry for a victory over Duke, the Cavaliers avenge their defeats to Duke by controlling the production of the Blue Devils freshmen. 

It won’t be an easy task for the Cavaliers since Duke is looking to get back into a rhythm with Zion Williamson potentially returning to the lineup, but we’re trusting the experience of the Cavaliers to finally get the job done after losing by 12 combined points in their meetings with Duke. 

With the win over Duke, the Cavaliers will make a compelling case to secure the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament as they start their quest to eliminate the bad memories of the 2018 first-round loss to UMBC. 

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Source: Mark Brown / Getty Images North America

Preview: SMU at Houston

No. 12 Houston must rebound from a loss for the first time since early January and avoid looking ahead to its regular-season finale when struggling SMU pays a visit on Thursday night for an American Athletic Conference contest. The Cougars saw their 12-game winning streak come to an end and lost for the first time in 34 home contests Saturday with a 69-64 setback against Central Florida.

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“I’m proud of my team,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson told reporters of the Cougars, who are tied with Cincinnati for first place in the American. “We’re 27-2 and 14-2 in the league. We’ll go back to work, regroup and get back at it.” Cincinnati visits red-hot UCF on Thursday and hosts Houston on Sunday in what could be a showdown for the regular-season crown in the American, but the Cougars must stay alert against an SMU team that started the league season 3-1 before dropping 10 of its last 12 contests. The Mustangs gave Cincinnati trouble last week in a 52-49 defeat before losing by 12 to Wichita State on Sunday, dropping into a tie for 10th in the league with Connecticut. SMU junior point guard Jimmy Whitt Jr., who had 20 points, six rebounds and six assists in the 69-58 loss to Houston on Jan. 16, missed the game against Wichita State with a shoulder injury and is considered day-to-day.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

ABOUT SMU (13-15, 5-11 American): Senior guard Jahmal McMurray, who recorded 27 points against Cincinnati on Feb. 27, leads the team in scoring (17.8 per game) while Whitt (12.0 points) tops the Mustangs in rebounds (6.6), assists (4.1) and steals (1.4). Versatile senior guard Jarrey Foster returned to the lineup Sunday after missing 10 games with a knee injury, scoring seven points on 1-of-6 shooting with a pair of rebounds in 20 minutes. Sophomore forward Ethan Chargois also averages 12 points and freshman big man Feron Hunt scored a season-high 14 against Wichita State.

ABOUT HOUSTON (27-2, 14-2): Senior guard Corey Davis Jr. led the way with 19 points in Saturday’s loss and is averaging 21.5 over the last four contests, including 20-of-36 shooting from 3-point range, to push his season mark to a team-high 16.1 points per game. Armoni Brooks, who was held to seven points by UCF, is the only other playing averaging in double figures scoring (13.5) for the well-balanced Cougars and the junior guard tops the team in rebounding (6.4). Sophomore guard DeJon Jarreau has stepped up his production level the last three games, averaging 13.7 points and 4.7 assists.


1. SMU sophomore F Isiaha Mike averages 11.9 points, but is just 9-of-30 from the field over the last three contests.

2. Houston senior G Galen Robinson Jr. is set to tie Ken Ciolli and George Walker on Thursday for second in team history in games played (129).

3. The Mustangs, who have lost three in a row against the Cougars after winning five of the previous six, averaged 50.7 points over their last three games.

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Pictured: Markus Howard
Source: Drew Hallowell / Getty Images North America

Preview: Marquette at Seton Hall

Marquette’s quest for its first outright Big East regular-season title has been slowed by back-to-back six-point losses. The 15th-ranked Golden Eagles aim to get back on track Wednesday when they travel to the Prudential Center to face Seton Hall, which has dropped three in a row to put its NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy.

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Big East leading scorer Markus Howard scored 21 straight points for Marquette in the first half and finished with 33 on Sunday, but a high volume of turnovers plagued the Golden Eagles for the second consecutive contest in a 66-60 setback to Creighton. “If somebody makes running offense harder on you, you have to work harder, you have to be stronger, you have to be more fundamentally sound,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. While the Golden Eagles trail first-place Villanova by a half-game, the Pirates will play a pivotal role in which team will win the Big East title as they wrap up their season with home games against both clubs. “We’ve still got two Top 25 teams coming back to our house. We’re going to keep it together and keep fighting like we did (Saturday),” Myles Powell told, referring to his 35-point performance in a 77-71 double-overtime loss to Georgetown.

TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, FS1

ABOUT MARQUETTE (23-6, 12-4 Big East): Howard, who was named one of the five finalists for the 2019 Bob Cousy Award on Tuesday, erupted for 26 points and Theo John added 10 to go along with a career high-tying 11 rebounds in the Golden Eagles’ 70-66 win over Seton Hall on Jan. 12. Sam Hauser had 13 points in that contest, but answered two strong shooting performances with a dismal 1-for-7 effort from the field — including 1-for-6 from 3-point range — to finish with just three in the loss to the Bluejays. Hauser wasn’t alone with his troubles against Creighton, as the rest of the club combined to shoot 10-for-25 outside of Howard’s 11-for-21 effort from the floor.

ABOUT SETON HALL (16-12, 7-9): Powell, who averages a team-best 22.3 points per game, had 21 in the first meeting with Marquette while fellow guard Quincy McKnight and forward Sandro Mamukelashvili each had 13. The 6-foot-10 Mamukelashvili, who averages 9.0 points, has upped the ante with four double-digit performances in his last five games — including 14 to go along with 11 rebounds versus the Hoyas. McKnight has struggled mightily from the floor in his last three outings, shooting 6-for-26 in that stretch while finishing with just three points in the last two.


1. Marquette F Sacar Anim answered an 8-for-12 shooting performance in a 76-58 win at Providence on Feb. 23 by going 4-for-12 from the field in his last two games.

2. Seton Hall G Myles Cale is just 3-for-13 from the field and 1-for-6 from 3-point range in his last two contests.

3. The Golden Eagles have won 19 of the 26 all-time meetings with the Pirates.

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