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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | March 23, 2022

16 March Madness predictions for the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament

Andy Katz makes his revised March Madness predictions

The Sweet 16 matchups are set and they feature a No. 15 seed for just the third time ever and a No. 10 seed facing a No. 11 seed for only the fourth time. Just like we all predicted, right?

Ahead of the first regional semifinals on Thursday, here are 16 predictions for the Sweet 16.

1. The Cinderella run from No. 15 seed Saint Peter's will come to an end

The Peacocks single-handedly eliminated the state of Kentucky from the 2022 NCAA Tournament, as it took down No. 2 seed Kentucky and No. 7 seed Murray State in about a 50-hour stretch last weekend, and next they'll face No. 3 seed Purdue, which has the No. 2 offense in the country, according to kenpom.com.

We've never seen a No. 15 seed advance to the Elite Eight, although Oral Roberts came oh so close last season β€” remember that Max Abmas 3-pointer? β€” and it probably will happen someday. But March 25, 2022, won't be that day.

2. Kansas is projected to beat Providence by seven, according to kenpom.com. It'll be closer than that

Despite No. 9 seed Creighton being down two starters β€” point guard Ryan Nembhard and center Ryan Kalkbrenner β€” for its second-round game against No. 1 seed Kansas, it was a back-and-forth game in the first half, Kansas led by just one at the break and it was a one-point game in the final two minutes.

Providence, wizards of one-possession wins, has a knack for playing close games and typically winning them. (Of course, the Friars' second-round win over No. 12 seed Richmond came by 28 points as the Spiders had an atrocious 1-for-22 3-point shooting performance.)

Kansas' starting big man David McCormack managed just seven points on eight shots, along with six rebounds, against a Creighton team that was without its starting center, so there's reason to believe Providence's fifth-year senior Nate Watson could have the upper hand in the low post. Another Providence fifth-year senior, the 6-foot-7 Justin Minaya, is a standout defender who could help neutralize Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun, while the Friars have enough veterans and steady guard play to potentially go basket for basket late in the game.

Providence has played in 12 games this season decided by two possessions or fewer (six points or less), and this will be another.

MEMORIALIZING THE MADNESS: We're tracking every single NCAA tournament upset

3. One double-digit seed will make the Elite Eight

Only because at least one double-digit seed has to make the Elite Eight, due to No. 10 seed Miami facing No. 11 seed Iowa State. I've already predicted the exit of No. 15 seed Saint Peter's and No. 11 seed Michigan will face No. 2 seed Villanova, the latter of which has the fourth-best chances of advancing to the Elite Eight, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Villanova is currently on pace to be the best free-throw shooting team ever and its offense has been rolling in the NCAA tournament, averaging 1.31 points per possession against Delaware and 1.20 against Ohio State. For reference, the national average is just under 1.03, per kenpom.com.

4. UCLA will beat North Carolina if Jaime Jaquez plays, but if he doesn't...

...then the Tar Heels will be the 2022 version of the 2021 Bruins β€”Β  a blue blood taking the atypical role of an NCAA tournament dark horse. While it was Jaquez's teammate Johnny Juzang who received most of the individual praise and accolades in the offseason β€” deservedly, I might add, after he was the leading scorer in last year's tournament β€” Jaquez has arguably been more integral to UCLA's success of late. In the Bruins' last seven games, he received game MVP honors from kenpom.com five times.

But Jaquez suffered an ankle injury in UCLA's win over Saint Mary's and the Bruins will hope that an extended rest can help the 6-foot-7 junior return to form, or at least recover enough to play.

While North Carolina nearly tied the worst collapse in NCAA tournament history β€” 25 points, if the Tar Heels had fallen to the Bears β€” they also built a 25-point lead over the No. 1 seed, showing a dangerous ceiling for the No. 8 seed. It's been well-covered how thin North Carolina's rotation is β€” it has only played five players for long stretches at times and that's only because that's how many you need to put on the court at once β€” while UCLA can go nine deep. But if the Bruins are without potentially their most important player, then the Tar Heels, with their dangerous 3-point shooting and dominant interior play from Armando Bacot, can beat UCLA.

5. Gonzaga and Arkansas will play the highest-scoring game of the Sweet 16

These two teams ranked in the top three of the 16 remaining teams and in the top 30 nationally in tempo, according to kenpom.com, and the Zags rank first nationally in offensive efficiency.

6.Β  Miami and Iowa State will play the lowest-scoring game of the Sweet 16

The Cyclones, which now have as many wins in the NCAA tournament this season as they had total wins last season, scored 59 and 52 points in their first two NCAA tournament games, respectively. The combination of a top-five defense, a fairly slow pace and offense that's prone to fits and starts will lead to those kinds of results.

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7. Two more No. 1 or No. 2 seeds will be sent home

Three of the eight lost in the first weekend, which is more than the annual average of 2.06 through the first 36 NCAA tournaments since the field expanded to 64 teams. Even the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds that advanced to the Sweet 16 were seriously pushed in the second round:

  • No. 1 seed Gonzaga trailed No. 9 seed Memphis 43-31 with 19:29 remaining in the second half, the game was tied at 66 with 5:50 left and Gonzaga only led by two with seven seconds remaining.
  • No. 1 seed Arizona went to overtime against No. 9 seed TCU after trailing 75-72 with 37 seconds left. TCU led 77-76 with 3:25 left in OT.
  • No. 1 seed Kansas saw what was once a nine-point lead over No. 9 seed Creighton shrink to just one, 73-72, with 1:47 to play.
  • No. 2 seed Duke trailed 70-65 against No. 7 seed Michigan State with 5:10 remaining in the game.
  • No. 2 seed Villanova's 15-point, second-half lead shrunk to two points, 60-58, with 5:41 to play against No. 7 seed Ohio State.

All of that is to say that this year's upper crust of the sport might be particularly vulnerable and four of those five teams will face an opponent with a better seed than their previous opponent. FiveThirty Eight says Duke (47-percent chance of advancing) and Arizona (48 percent) are the most vulnerable of the group, with upcoming games against Texas Tech and Houston, respectively.

8. Gonzaga's Drew Timme will score at least 25 points, again

Timme's 57 points in the last two games are the second-best, consecutive-game point total of his career β€” behind only a 30 and 32-point game stretch in conference play this year β€” and he could add another impressive point total in the Sweet 16. I've already predicted the game between Gonzaga and Arkansas to be the highest-scoring Sweet 16 matchup, so there's probably going to be lots of points scored, period, but Gonzaga's talented front line could pose problems for Arkansas, which does boast the No. 14 defense in terms of efficiency.

Arkansas forward Jaylin Williams, who's 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, is an athletic, big-bodied force in the paint, but the Razorbacks typically start players who are 6-foot-6 at the "three" and the "four." So how will Arkansas choose to defend Gonzaga, which also has mobile, 7-foot freshman Chet Holmgren?

Without Holmgren in the picture, Timme versus Williams could be an intriguing matchup in the post, but what if Arkansas tries to play physical against the freshman with Williams, leaving another defender on Timme for stretches?

The Hogs don't have a ton of size in their rotation outside of Williams, so Timme, Holmgren or both, could potentially capitalize on that height advantage inside.

9. The Sweet 16 will set up *at least* two regular-season rematches in the Elite Eight

There are actually quite a few options for potential rematches and at least one possibility in all four regions:

  • No. 1 seed Gonzaga vs. No. 2 seed Duke | Duke def. Gonzaga 84-81 on Nov. 26
  • No. 1 seed Gonzaga vs. No. 3 seed Texas Tech | Gonzaga def. Texas Tech 69-55 on Dec. 18
  • No. 1 seed Arizona vs. No. 11 seed Michigan | Arizona def. Michigan 80-62 on Nov. 21
  • No. 3 seed Purdue vs. No. 8 seed North Carolina | Purdue def. North Carolina 93-84 on Nov. 20
  • No. 1 seed Kansas vs. No. 11 seed Iowa State | Kansas def. Iowa State 62-61 on Jan. 11; 70-61 on Feb. 1

The teams that eventually earned the better seed in March went 5-1 in those six meetings, with Duke's win over Gonzaga being the only exception, and my research shows that in NCAA tournament games that are rematches from a single regular-season meeting are won by the winner of the first matchup nearly 68 percent of the time, which is potentially a good sign for Duke against Gonzaga, Gonzaga against Texas Tech, Arizona against Michigan and Purdue against North Carolina, should those matchups materialize.

While Kansas swept Iowa State in the regular season, just look at the 2019 NCAA Tournament for why it's no guarantee the Jayhawks would win a theoretical third meeting. Kentucky swept Auburn in the regular season in 2019, but the Tigers beat the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament during their Final Four run.

If Gonzaga beats Arkansas, we're guaranteed at least one Elite Eight rematch, since the Zags have played both Duke and Texas Tech. I think we'll get one more, too.

10. Guards will score at least 80 percent of the points in the Miami versus Iowa State matchup

For just the fourth time ever, there's a No. 10 seed and No. 11 seed playing in the Sweet 16 β€” such a rarity because it not only requires them to beat a No. 7 and No. 6 seed in the first round, respectively, which isn't abnormal but certainly less than a 50-percent proposition, but it also requires the No. 2 seed and the No. 3 seed in the region to not make the second weekend.

From a personnel standpoint, both teams' strengths are their guards: Kameron McGusty (17.5 points per game), Isaiah Wong (15.5) and Charlie Moore (12.8) for Miami, and Izaiah Brockington (17.1), Tyrese Hunter (10.9) and Gabe Kalscheur (9.5) for Iowa State. The first and third-leading scorers for each team are transfers, by the way, showing the benefits for the team and the individual, when a remade roster gels. McGusty and Moore are sixth-year seniors and Moore is now playing for his fourth school, so based on the personnel of the two teams, get ready to hear a lot about the value of guard play, experience, and experienced guards before, during and after this Sweet 16 matchup.

11. The result of the Villanova versus Michigan matchup will be much closer to their last NCAA tournament meeting compared to their last regular-season meeting

On Nov. 14, 2018, Michigan beat Villanova by 27 points, seven months after the Wildcats beat the Wolverines by 17 in the national championship game. That's a 44-point swing in point differential with a fair number, but certainly not all, of the same players involved, although Villanova had to replace three starters plus the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, Donte DiVincenzo.

I predict this game will finish in the top-25th percentile of that 44-point scoring differential, meaning Villanova will win by eight to 17 points. The Wildcats are currently the best free throw shooting team in the sport so they have the ability to take a relatively close game and turn it into a lopsided affair at the stripe.

Michigan has survived and advanced so far with DeVante' Jones missing the first round and leaving the second round with an injury, but Villanova is certainly not a team you want to play without your full roster of guards at full strength. Villanova is projected to win by five, according to kenpom.com, so it might only take one additional Villanova basket for this prediction to hit.

12. There will be a record-setting eighth overtime game in the NCAA tournament

Seven of the first 52 games in the 2022 NCAA Tournament went to overtime, tying the all-time record, meaning just one of the remaining 15 games would need to be tied at the end of regulation to set a new record. Based on this year's Sweet 16 matchups, it's not hard to envision that happening.

Here are the smallest projected margins of victory in the Sweet 16, according to kenpom.com:

  • No. 5 seed Houston 74, No. 1 seed Arizona 73
  • No. 3 seed Texas Tech 69, No. 2 seed Duke 68
  • No. 11 seed Iowa State 68, No. 10 seed Miami 67
  • No. 4 seed UCLA 74, No. 8 seed North Carolina 70

It just takes one.

13. There will be a 'ninth' in the Elite Eight

Since 1985, only eight No. 8 seeds and eight No. 10 seeds have made the Elite Eight. We'll get at least one of those occurrences to happen for a ninth time this year, whether it's No. 8 seed North Carolina or No. 10 seed Miami advancing. Of course, even rarer history could be made, if No. 15 seed Saint Peter's becomes the first of its seed line to go to the Elite Eight.

Interestingly, No. 5 seeds only have nine wins in the Sweet 16 β€” since they typically face a No. 1 seed once they're there β€” and that's the same number of wins No. 11 seeds have in the regional semifinals. No. 5 seeds are 9-40, while No. 11 seeds are 9-15, so we'll see how No. 5 seed Houston and No. 11 seed Iowa State fare this year.

14. At least four schools with some shade of red or crimson as one of their primary colors will advance

I'll show my work here. There are seven schools that fit this definition β€” Gonzaga, Arkansas, Texas Tech, Arizona, Houston, Kansas and Iowa State β€” and four of them are paired up in the Sweet 16, guaranteeing two make it on to the Elite Eight. So this prediction comes down to at least two of Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State winning.

15. The schools that advance to the Elite Eight will combine to have won at least 17 men's basketball national championships

The teams in the Sweet 16 have combined for 31.

16. A higher number of Bracket Challenge Game users will have correctly predicted the Elite Eight field compared to the Sweet 16

No one went 16-for-16 on the Sweet 16.

2022 March Madness schedule, livestream links

Click or tap on any of the games below to be taken directly to that live stream or box score.

GAMES TIME TV CITY Venue
National Championship β€” Monday, April 4
No. 1 Kansas 72, No. 8 North Carolina 69 9:20 p.m. TBS New Orleans, Louisiana Caesars Superdome
RESULTS TIME NETWORK CITY SITE
First Four β€” Tuesday, March 15
No. 16 Texas Southern 76, No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 67 6:40 p.m. truTV Dayton, Ohio UD Arena
No. 12 Indiana 66, No. 12 Wyoming 58 9:10 p.m. truTV Dayton, Ohio UD Arena
First Four β€” Wednesday, March 16
No. 16 Wright State 93, No. 16 Bryant 82 6:40 p.m. truTV Dayton, Ohio UD Arena
No. 11 Notre Dame 89,Β No. 11 Rutgers 87 9:10 p.m. truTV Dayton, Ohio UD Arena
First Round β€” Thursday, March 17
No. 11 Michigan 75, No. 6 Colorado State 63 12:15 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 4 Providence 66, No. 13 South Dakota State 57 12:40 p.m. truTV Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 9 Memphis 64, No. 8 Boise State 53 1:45 p.m. TNT Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 1 Baylor 85, No. 16 Norfolk State 49 2 p.m. TBS Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 3 Tennessee 88, No. 14 Longwood 56 2:45 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 12 Richmond 67,Β  No. 5 Iowa 63 3:10 p.m. truTV Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 1 Gonzaga 93, No. 16 Georgia State 72 4:15 p.m. TNT Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 8 North Carolina 95, No. 9 Marquette 63 4:30 p.m. TBS Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 12 New Mexico State 70, No. 5 UConn 63 6:50 p.m. TNT Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 15 Saint Peter's 85, No. 2 Kentucky 79 (OT) 7:10 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 5 Saint Mary's (CA) 82, No. 12 Indiana 53 7:20 p.m. TBS Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 9 Creighton 72, No. 8 San Diego State 69 (OT) 7:27 p.m. truTV Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 4 Arkansas 75, No. 13 Vermont 71 9:20 p.m. TNT Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 7 Murray State 92, No. 10 San Francisco 87 (OT) 9:40 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 4 UCLA 57, No. 13 Akron 53 9:50 p.m. TBS Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 1 Kansas 83, No. 16 Texas Southern 56 9:57 p.m. truTV Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
First Round β€” Friday, March 18
No. 7 Ohio State 54, No. 10 Loyola Chicago 41Β  12:15 p.m. CBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 2 Auburn 80, No. 15 Jacksonville State 61 12:40 p.m. truTV Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 3 Texas Tech 97, No. 14 Montana State 62 1:45 p.m. TNT San Diego, California Viejas Arena
No. 3 Purdue 78, No. 14 Yale 56 2 p.m. TBS Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 2 Villanova 80, No. 15 Delaware 60 2:45 p.m. CBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 10 Miami (Fla.) 68, No. 7 No. 7 Southern California 66 3:10 p.m. truTV Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 11 Notre Dame 78, No. 6 Alabama 64 4:15 p.m. TNT San Diego, California Viejas Arena
No. 6 Texas 81, No. 11 Virginia Tech 73 4:30 p.m. TBS Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 4 Illinois 54, No. 13 Chattanooga 53 6:50 p.m. TNT Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 2 Duke 78, Cal State Fullerton 61 7:10 p.m. CBS Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 11 Iowa State 59, No. 6 LSU 54 7:20 p.m. TBS Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 1 Arizona 87, No. 16 Wright State 70 7:27 p.m. truTV San Diego, California Viejas Arena
No. 5 Houston 82, No. 12 UAB 68 9:20 p.m. TNT Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 7 Michigan State 74, No. 10 Davidson 73 9:40 p.m. CBS Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 3 Wisconsin 67, No. 14 Colgate 60 9:50 p.m. TBS Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 9 TCU 69, No. 8 Seton Hall 42 9:57 p.m. truTV San Diego, California Viejas Arena
Second Round β€” Saturday, March 19
No. 8 North Carolina 93, No. 1 Baylor 86 (OT) 12:10 p.m. CBS Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 1 Kansas 79, No. 9 Creighton 72 2:40 p.m. CBS Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 11 Michigan 76, No. 3 Tennessee 68 5:15 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 4 Providence 79, No. 12 Richmond 51 6:10 p.m. TNT Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 4 UCLA 72, No. 5 Saint Mary's 56 7:10 p.m. TBS Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 15 Saint Peter's 70, No. 7 Murray State 60 7:45 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 4 Arkansas 53, No. 12 New Mexico State 48 8:40 p.m. TNT Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 1 Gonzaga 82, No. 9 Memphis 78 9:40 p.m. TBS Portland, Oregon Moda Center
Second Round β€” Sunday, March 20
No. 5 Houston 68, No. 4 Illinois 53 12:10 p.m. CBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 2 Villanova 71, No. 7 Ohio State 61 2:40 p.m. CBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 2 Duke 85, No. 7 Michigan State 76 5:15 p.m. CBS Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 11 Iowa State 54, No. 3 Wisconsin 49 6:10 p.m. TNT Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 3 Texas Tech 59, No. 11 Notre Dame 53 7:10 p.m. TBS San Diego, California Viejas Arena
No. 10 Miami (Fla.) 79, No. 2 Auburn 61 7:45 p.m. truTV Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 3 Purdue 81, No. 6 Texas 71 8:40 p.m. TNT Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 1 Arizona 85, No. 9 TCU 80 (OT) 9:40 p.m. TBS San Diego, California Viejas Arena
Sweet 16 β€” Thursday, March 24
No. 4 Arkansas 74, No. 1 Gonzaga 68 7:09 p.m. CBS San Francisco, California Chase Center
No. 2 Villanova 63, No. 11 Michigan 55 7:29 p.m. TBS San Antonio, Texas AT&T Center
No. 2 Duke 78, No. 3 Texas Tech 73 9:39 p.m. CBS San Francisco, California Chase Center
No. 5 Houston 72, No. 1 Arizona 60 9:59 p.m. TBS San Antonio, Texas AT&T Center
Sweet 16 β€” Friday, March 25
No. 15 Saint Peter's 67, No. 3 Purdue 64 7:09 p.m. CBS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Center
No. 1 Kansas 66, No. 4 Providence 61 7:29 p.m. TBS Chicago, Illinois United Center
No. 8 North Carolina 73, No. 4 UCLA 66 9:39 p.m. CBS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Center
No. 10 Miami (Fla.) 70, No. 11 Iowa State 56 9:59 p.m. TBS Chicago, Illinois United Center
Elite Eight β€”Β  Saturday, March 26
No. 2 Villanova 50, No. 5 Houston 44 6:09 p.m. TBS San Antonio, Texas AT&T Center
No. 2 Duke 78, No. 4 Arkansas 69 8:49 p.m. TBS San Francisco, California Chase Center
Elite Eight β€” Sunday, March 27
No. 1 Kansas 76, No. 10 Miami (Fla.) 50 2:20 p.m. CBS Chicago, Illinois United Center
No. 8 North Carolina 69, No. 15 Saint Peter's 49 5:05 p.m. CBS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Center
Final Four β€” Saturday, April 2
No. 1 Kansas 81, No. 2 Villanova 65 6:09 p.m. TBS New Orleans, Louisiana Caesars Superdome
No. 8 North Carolina 81, No. 2 Duke 77 8:49 p.m. TBS New Orleans, Louisiana Caesars Superdome

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