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The 2018 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament has been complete chaos through the first two rounds. Nine of the teams remaining in the Sweet 16 are No. 5 seeds or lower, including two double-digit seeds.
The madness continues on Thursday with the first four games of the next round, which features four teams seeded seventh or lower.
Here’s an updated bracket followed by picks for the next round of games:
Loyola-Chicago over Nevada
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Perhaps we should have seen Loyola-Chicago’s run to the Sweet 16 coming due to the Ramblers’ efficiency on offense.
Loyola enters ranked seventh in the nation in effective field-goal percentage. Among the teams in this year’s tournament field only Villanova, Kansas and Purdue—three teams that are also still alive—rank higher than the Ramblers.
It isn’t just the offensive end of the floor where they excel in their efficiency, however. Loyola also ranks 35th in the nation in opponents effective field goal percentage.
The Ramblers hold an edge over Nevada in each of these categories, which should make them favorites in this matchup despite being the lower-seeded team.
Kentucky over Kansas State
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After knocking off No. 12 Davidson and No. 13 Buffalo in the first two rounds, Kentucky gets another relatively easy test in this battle of the Wildcats.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari wasn’t thrilled about his team’s seeding and the fact that they had to travel to Idaho for their first two games. It’s worked out well for the Wildcats, however, as No. 9 Kansas State will be highest seeded team they’ve faced so far.
In fact, due to all the upsets in the South Regional, Kentucky could potentially advance to the Final Four having been the higher-seeded team in every matchup—an improbable feat for a No. 5.
FiveThirtyEight gives Kentucky a 57 percent chance to advance to the Final Four, the best odds among the remaining teams.
As long as Calipari’s squad continues it’s efficient offensive performance, they should cruise into the Elite Eight with a win over Kansas State.
Purdue over Texas Tech
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Texas Tech wins with its suffocating defense, which ranks 14th in the nation in opponents’ effective field-goal percentage. In this tournament, however, dominant offensive teams have proved to hold a substantial advantage.
Among the seven teams in the tournament with a better opponents’ effective field-goal percentage than the Red Raiders, five were bounced before the Sweet 16.
Unfortunately for Texas Tech—which has never advanced past the Sweet 16—Purdue appears to be built to handle the Red Raiders defense. The Boilermakers are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation, ranking fifth in points per possession.
Purdue’s ability to convert on their opportunities should allow them to survive against Texas Tech’s stingy defense and advance to the Elite Eight for the first time under head coach Matt Painter. The Boilermakers last advanced past the Sweet 16 in 2000, under the guidance of legendary coach Gene Keady.
Picks for the rest of the Sweet 16
Gonzaga over Florida State
Michigan over Texas A&M
Villanova over West Virginia
Kansas over Clemson
Duke over Syracuse