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The 2018 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship has already featured some incredible moments, such as Loyola-Chicago’s two victories by three combined points and UMBC becoming the first men’s No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in history.
Remarkably, the tournament is only three days old, and Sunday brings eight more chances for incredible entertainment and drama.
Here’s a look at all eight games, the schedule, the odds (via OddsShark), some analysis and a few picks.
No. 10 Butler vs. No. 2 Purdue (-3.5): 12:10 p.m. ET, CBS
Purdue center Isaac Haas suffered a fractured elbow against Cal State Fullerton in the first round and was initially declared out for the rest of the NCAA tournament.
However, CBS and TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce provided some good news:
Allie LaForce @ALaForce
Isaac Haas practiced w/@BoilerBall this afternoon. He had a brace on his fractured elbow. Brace needs to be cleared by NCAA. IF it is cleared, Purdue will have to decide if they allow him to play. He wants to play per Coach Painter. He will go through warmups tomorrow. @CBSSports
If Haas is able to play, that’s a huge boost to Purdue’s chances, as the 7’2″ senior posts 14.7 points and 5.7 boards per game.
But even if he can’t go, then the Boilermakers should squeak by thanks to the efforts of sophomore Carsen Edwards, who scores 18.4 points per game and can get scorching hot from the field at any time.
Pick: Purdue (-3.5)
No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Michigan State (-9): 2:40 p.m. ET, CBS
Michigan State has only four losses this year: two to Michigan (a No. 3 seed in this year’s tournament), one to No. 2 Duke and one to No. 5 Ohio State. The Spartans are also one of just two teams ranked top 11 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings.
While Syracuse has impressed after landing on the right side of the tournament bubble with wins over Arizona State and TCU, the Spartans are one of the best teams in the nation and will be tough to top. Look for Miles Bridges, who scored 29 points against Bucknell in the first round, to continue his strong tournament with another great performance.
Pick: Michigan State (-9)
No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 2 North Carolina (-6): 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Defending champion North Carolina still has a few key members from that 2016-17 team, notably tournament hero Luke Maye (17.0 points, 10.1 rebounds), Joel Berry II (17.0 points) and Theo Pinson (10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists).
The Tar Heels have the experience and skill to take down an Aggies team that is one of the better squads in the nation on its best day (e.g. a 23-point win over West Virginia) and head-scratching on its worst (a 2-6 start in SEC play).
The Aggies are going to need to be at the top of their game to stick around in this one, but look for UNC to stay strong and advance to the Sweet 16.
Pick: UNC (-6)
No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 2 Cincinnati (-8): 6:10 p.m. ET, TNT
Following Virginia’s stunning loss to UMBC, the strongest defense left in the NCAA tournament now belongs to the Cincinnati Bearcats, who are second in defensive efficiency in the latest Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings.
The Bearcats have a tough task ahead of them against the Martin twins of Nevada (Caleb and Cody), who average 19.1 and 13.6 points per game, respectively. Cincinnati will also need to stop 6’7″ forward Jordan Caroline, who posts 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds a night.
However, Cincinnati should be up to the task, especially if it’s able to control the tempo to its liking (a snail’s pace, more or less). Look for the Bearcats to advance.
Pick: Cincinnati (-8)
No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 4 Auburn (-1.5): 7:10 p.m. ET, TBS
This is a matchup between two balanced scoring attacks. Auburn has six players who average 7.4 or more points per game, while Clemson has five players who post 10.6 points per game.
However, one of those five Tigers (senior forward Donte Grantham) suffered a torn ACL midseason and is out for the year. With him, the edge would go to Clemson here. Without him, the pendulum slightly swings toward Auburn. In the battle of the Tigers, take the SEC team.
Pick: Auburn (-1.5)
No. 16 UMBC vs. No. 9 Kansas State (-10.5): 7:40 p.m. ET, truTV
The main takeaway from UMBC’s victory over Virginia is that Retrievers guard Jairus Lyles should be a serious problem for as long as the Retrievers are in the tournament.
Yes, they are massive underdogs to Kansas State, but Lyles averaged 20.4 points per game this year and showed a tremendous ability to score in the lane and from the outside.
Look for Lyles to keep this one close (and for UMBC to beat the spread), but Kansas State guard Barry Brown (16.0 points per game and 18 in the opening round vs. Creighton) might be a problem for the Retrievers. Brown will lead the Wildcats to a single-digit win.
Pick: UMBC (+10.5)
No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 1 Xavier (-5.5): 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT
According to Alex Scarborough of ESPN, Florida State’s second-leading scorer, Terance Mann, will likely miss Sunday’s game against Xavier due to a groin injury suffered against Missouri on Friday.
Losing Mann, who averaged 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds this season, would be a big loss against a Xavier team that would already be favored with FSU at full strength. Without Mann, FSU has a large uphill climb against the Musketeers.
Pick: Xavier (-5.5)
No. 13 Marshall vs. No. 5 West Virginia (-12.5): 9:40 p.m. ET, TBS
Marshall’s fast-paced offense worked to perfection against Wichita State in the first round, but it might have a problem against the Press Virginia defense of the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Specifically, Mountaineers point guard Jevon Carter, who averages 2.9 steals per game, will be a problem for the Thundering Herd. He’s one of the best defenders in the nation and can hold his own against this offense. The Mountaineers will win and cover.
Pick: West Virginia (-12.5)