Friday's Sweet 16 News and Notes

By Joe Duffy
Contributing Editor

Joe Duffy
Sports Network) -

(8) NC State vs. (4) Louisville
East Regional Semifinal

NC State with 15th best strength of schedule in nation, but Louisville is 34th. NC State has lost three straight Sweet 16 straight up. State has been incredibly inconsistent - it beat Louisville, Duke, and North Carolina during ACC play, but also suffered stumbles against Boston College and Wake Forest.
Wolfpack have a good defensive frontcourt but the offense comes from backcourt where they excel on isolation. NC State traveling 520 miles, Louisville 602.

(7) Michigan State vs. (3) Oklahoma
East Regional Semifinal

Michigan St will travel 422 miles to Syracuse, Oklahoma 1258. Oklahoma?s Lon Kruger becomes the first coach in NCAA Division I history to take four programs to the Sweet 16 or beyond though Tom Izzo with well-earned reputation as great NCAA Tournament coach. MSU it is going for its second straight Elite Eight and ninth under Izzo.

The Sooners are just one of just six teams in the nation, the only among Power 5 conference schools, that has started the same five players in every game this season.

Oklahoma has vastly improved on defense as its points-allowed average is 13 points fewer now than a year ago. They ranked in the 90s in defensive efficiency nationally in Kruger's first three seasons at Oklahoma. They ranked in the top 10 this season. MSU 232nd luckiest team according to the KenPom index. Again gamblers interpret this as a team better than their straight up mark.

(11) UCLA vs. (2) Gonzaga
South Regional Semifinal

UCLA will travel 1,237 miles to Dallas, Gonzaga 1,468. UCLA is 15-5 last 20 against the spread. Gonzaga has come up short. Since 2002, the team is 12-13 straight up in the tournament with just two second-weekend appearances against five losses to lower-seeded teams. In the four years Gonzaga has had a top-three seed, it has a pedestrian 5-4 straight up record.

The Bruins have played good basketball in two wins over SMU and UAB, but entered the tournament with a 20-13 record, a 3-8 record over teams in the NCAA field and their best win over a team ranked No. 20 in the RPI.

The Zags have just two losses on the year, one of which came in overtime to Arizona. Gonzaga possess the 89th ranked strength of schedule in nation and fourth best offensive efficiency at 120.4 points per 100 possessions. UCLA owns the 23rd strength of schedule in nation.

(5) Utah vs. (1) Duke
South Regional Semifinal

Duke is No. 2 in offensive efficiency at 122.2 but 49th defensive efficiency allowing 95.5 and No. 17 strength of schedule in nation. Utah 18th offensive efficiency but No. 7 defensive efficiency allowing just 90.4 points per 100 possessions.

Duke crushed San Diego State one of the country's top 5 defenses by almost any measure. Duke shot 55 percent from the field. With three teams in the Sweet 16 (Arizona, UCLA, Utah) and a 7-1 straight up record in the tournament so far, the Pac-12 is outperforming expectations already. The ACC is 11-1 straight up.

Brandon Taylor is bit of a slump for Utes and his firepower is greatly needed.

Late breaking intel on the sports betting podcasts at The author, Joe Duffy has his picks part of GodsTips, anchor of A long-time veteran of the sports betting industry, Duffy trained under NFL legends-turned-handicappers Ray Scott and Hank Stram.

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