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Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) drives the lane. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire)
March 22nd, 2022
The top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs remain the +200 favorite to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament following a wild weekend of March Madness that saw four double-digit seeds advance to the Sweet 16.
Mark Few's squad was nearly shown the door by ninth-seeded Memphis in the second round of the tournament and needed a second-half comeback to secure a 82-78 win, behind 25 points from star forward Drew Timme.
The Bulldogs will now face No. 4 Arkansas, which escaped 12th-seeded New Mexico State in an ugly 53-48 battle, where the Razorbacks shot just 27.5% from the field.
The winner of the Gonzaga-Arkansas matchup will face either No. 2 Duke or No. 3 Texas Tech in the West Region, which currently features the hardest path to the Final Four, as all of the top four seeds have survived.
The No. 1 seed with arguably the easiest path to the national semifinal round are the Kansas Jayhawks, whose championship odds jumped from +600 to +400 following last weekend's action.
The Jayhawks edged No. 9 Creighton, 79-72 in a Midwest Region second-round matchup and will meet No. 4 Providence out of the Big East in the Sweet 16. The winner will play either No. 10 Miami or No. 11 Iowa State for a Final Four berth.
Iowa State, Miami, and Providence rank in the bottom four on the NCAA championship odds board, just above the 15th-seeded Saint Peter's Peacocks, who own the worst odds to secure a national title (+20000).
No 15-seed has ever made it to the Elite Eight, but the last No. 15 to play in the third round, Oral Roberts, lost by a last-second jumper to third-seeded Arkansas in a 72-70 thriller in the regional semifinal of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
The Peacocks have already defeated No. 2 Kentucky and No. 7 Murray State in the East, and will challenge the third-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in their Sweet 16 meeting on Friday.
The Boilermakers, whose odds improved from +1400 to +900, are just one of two Big Ten teams left standing, despite nine teams from the conference earning an NCAA Tournament bid.
No. 3 seed Wisconsin, No. 4 seed Illinois, No. 5 seed Iowa, No. 7 seeds Ohio State and Michigan State, No. 11 seed Rutgers, and No. 12 seed Indiana were all sent packing over the weekend.
In the last 10 years, Michigan men's basketball is 23-7 (.767 winning percentage) in the NCAA Tournament.In the last 10 years, the rest of the Big Ten is 67-54 (.554 winning percentage) in the NCAA Tournament.— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) March 21, 2022
In the last 10 years, Michigan men's basketball is 23-7 (.767 winning percentage) in the NCAA Tournament.In the last 10 years, the rest of the Big Ten is 67-54 (.554 winning percentage) in the NCAA Tournament.
The other Big Ten school still alive, No. 11 seed Michigan (+5000), will face No. 2 Villanova (+1000), which is favored by five points in its Sweet 16 battle.
The South Region bracket includes a No. 1 vs. No. 5 matchup between Arizona (+500 odds to win the championship) and Houston (+800 odds), as well as Michigan vs. Villanova.
Arizona is just a two-point favorite over Houston, which made it to the Final Four in 2021, and should give the Wildcats a tough test on the glass, as both teams rank in the top three in total rebounds.
Experience will be on the side of Houston, whose head coach Kelvin Sampson has made two career Final Four appearances (the other with Oklahoma in 2002), and will attempt to make his second consecutive trip to the national semifinal, along with Gonzaga and UCLA (+1800).
Arizona's coach, Tommy Lloyd, is in his first year as head coach of a D-I program after serving as an assistant at Gonzaga from 2001 to 2021. Lloyd led the Wildcats to a 33-3 record — the third best mark in school history — and won both the Pac-12 regular-season and conference tournament titles.
While Lloyd is getting his first taste of March Madness as a head coach, Mike Krzyzewski is in the midst of his 36th NCAA Tournament appearance, the most by any coach in history.
All love for Coach K and @DukeMBB 🤝 #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/Ak7PdHodEz— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 20, 2022
All love for Coach K and @DukeMBB 🤝 #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/Ak7PdHodEz
Ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, Coach K announced that he would retire at the end of this season, his 42nd with Duke and 47th as a head coach (including his stint at Army).
On Sunday, his second-seeded Blue Devils downed another legendary coach, Tom Izzo, and the Michigan State Spartans to hand Coach K a record 99 NCAA tournament wins.
Duke will next play defensive stalwart Texas Tech and will enter as a one-point underdog to the higher-seeded Red Raiders.
The Blue Devils are a +1000 dark-horse candidate to win the NCAA Tournament and boast the talent and coaching prowess to get the job done.
Duke ranked as high as No. 1 in the AP Poll in late November, finished with a 30-6 record in the regular season, and was runner-up to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament final.
Coach K owns a 99-30 career record in the NCAA Tournament and is tied with John Wooden for the most Final Four appearances (12). Krzyzewski is already in second place for most NCAA titles, behind John Wooden's 10, but he can add a sixth banner to his résumé with a championship in his final season.
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