March Madness 2018: Bracket Predictions, Odds for Thursday’s Sweet 16 Schedule

Clayton Custer is hoping to lead Loyola to another NCAA tournament victory.

Clayton Custer is hoping to lead Loyola to another NCAA tournament victory.Associated Press

The first weekend of the NCAA tournament was filled with upsets and buzzer-beating finishes.

The second weekend may represent an upgrade in overall quality because all 16 teams playing have already won two games and have proved they are tournament-ready. Eight of those teams will be in action Thursday night.

Two of the more upset-minded teams are Loyola-Chicago and Nevada. Both teams registered a pair of upsets in their first two games.

The 11th-seeded Ramblers have made a name for themselves with victories over Miami and Tennessee. Both of those wins for head coach Porter Moser’s team were of the last-second variety. 

Donte Ingram hit the game-winning three-point shot against Miami, while Clayton Custer hit his decisive shot against the Volunteers as he was falling down on the right side of the lane.

Moser said that he has learned to expect the unexpected in the NCAA tournament.

“[I’m] never surprised with March Madness,” Moser said, per Madeline Kenney of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I never am. It’s always about that one game in front of you. It’s why it’s called madness. There are huge upsets all over the place.”

Custer is Loyola’s leading scorer, averaging 13.3 points per game, while Ingram is second on the team and is scoring 11.5 points per night. 

Nevada ousted Texas with an 87-83 overtime victory in the first round and then registered a major comeback and upset in their 75-73 second-round triumph.

Nevada rallied from a 22-point deficit in the second half to earn the win over the Bearcats. Josh Hall scored the winning basket when he converted an offensive rebound with 9.1 seconds left in the game. That gave the Wolf Pack the only lead they would have in the game.

Nevada is led by Caleb Martin, who is scoring 18.8 points per game and connecting on 40.1 percent of his three-point shots. Jordan Caroline is doing an excellent job in support, adding 17.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

Nevada is a narrow one-point favorite, according to OddsShark. However, we are going with Sister Jean-Dolores Schmidt’s favorite team, and believe the Ramblers will find a way to win their third consecutive tournament game.

          

Schedule, point spreads and selections for Thursday, March 22 (Selection in bold; all times ET)  

No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 11 Loyola-Chicago, Nevada -1, (7:07 p.m., CBS)

No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 7 Texas A&M, Michigan -2.5, (7:27 p.m., TBS)

No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Kansas State, Kentucky -5.5, (9:37 p.m., CBS)

No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Florida State, Gonzaga, -5.5, (9:59 p.m., TBS)

Point spread information courtesy of OddsShark.

Mo Wagner and Michigan are playing sensational basketball.

Mo Wagner and Michigan are playing sensational basketball.Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

Michigan will meet Texas A&M in a second-round game, and the Wolverines defeated Montana and Houston in the first two rounds, and they have won 11 straight games. 

The red-hot Wolverines are 2.5-point favorites to eliminate the Aggies.

Head coach John Beilein has his team playing at peak efficiency, and there’s no reason to think that Michigan will slow down against their rival from the Southeastern Conference.

Mo Wagner has been having a fantastic year for Michigan, averaging 14.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and shooting 52.6 percent from the field. He is getting plenty of support from Charles Matthews and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who are averaging 12.8 and 12.6 points per game, respectively.

Texas A&M defeated a tough Providence team in the first round, and the Aggies took advantage of a poor defensive effort by North Carolina to beat the Tar Heels a shocking 86-65 score.

Tyler Davis is one of the keys to the Texas A&M offense, as he is averaging 14.6 points and bringing down 9.0 rebounds per night. Admon Gilder is adding 12.4 points per game, while DJ Hogg, Robert Williams and TJ Starks are all scoring in double figures for the Aggies.

Michigan finds a way to outlast the Aggies and cover the 2.5-point spread.