We’ve already witnessed a ton of upsets in March Matchups, but could more be on tap this weekend?
Last time, we delivered a huge stunner with our Ohio pick. As the tournament field narrows to 16 teams, we’re breaking down three games that are packed with star power and betting potential.
Before you place your wagers on the tourney, gain an inside edge with the Showstopper.
No. 12 Oregon State Beavers vs. No. 8 Loyola Chicago Ramblers
Saturday, March 27 | TV: CBS
Let’s hear it for Sister Jean’s Ramblers! Following her pep talk, Loyola Chicago pulled off what was arguably the biggest upset of the tourney by defeating No. 1 Illinois. Now, the Ramblers have an underdog clash with another program not many picked to advance this far. Although Oregon St.’s dynamic backcourt led by Ethan Thompson impressed in wins against Tennessee and Oklahoma St., this is a tougher and more experienced tournament foe that sports an elite defense and very efficient half-court offense.
Loyola Chicago senior Cameron Krutwig may look like he belongs in a YMCA gym, but the big man is incredibly skilled on both ends of the court. Not only does he have Jokic-style moves in the post, Krutwig is deceptively quick and great at finding cutters like Lucas Williamson on a team that has mastered off-ball movement. This could shape up to be a gritty, low-scoring game based on the matchup, but the Ramblers’ defensive intensity will help them remain in control.
No. 15 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks
Saturday, March 27 | TV: TBS
Raise your hand if you expected Oral Roberts to still be here. Yeah, we didn’t raise ours, either. But March Matchups favors the squads with momentum and star power on their side. While the Golden Eagles aren’t going to wow you on the defensive end, they have the nation’s leading scorer in 6-foot-1 guard Max Abmas. Despite his diminutive size, he can rack up points in a variety of ways, including from beyond the arc (43 percent). Oral Roberts has also gotten a combined 58 points from versatile forward Kevin Obanor in two tourney games.
These two teams actually met during the regular season, with Arkansas staging a big second-half rally to overcome Oral Roberts, 87-76, back in December. Slow starts are nothing new for the Razorbacks, as they also needed a big second half to throttle Colgate in the first round. That said, Arkansas has far too much talent to not learn from its mistakes, and the benefit of knowing what it takes to keep the Golden Eagles in check defensively. Look for big-time games from stars Justin Smith and Moses Moody as Arkansas ends Oral Roberts’ Cinderella run. Though this might be another contest where the Golden Eagles keep it closer than anticipated.
No. 4 Florida State Seminoles vs. No. 1 Michigan Wolverines
Sunday, March 28 | TV: CBS
This could wind up being the most exciting tournament game of the weekend. Both Florida State and Michigan are athletic, experienced, and well-balanced on offense. Even without Isaiah Livers, the Wolverines have found ways to score consistently, which speaks to their star power (most notably Hunter Dickinson) and overall roster depth. The player to watch is transfer guard Chaundee Brown, who stepped up big with 21 points in Michigan’s close win over LSU.
The Seminoles dominated Colorado in the second half last weekend, but their offense has sputtered here and there, due in part to a high turnover rate, which might be a problem against a physical Wolverines defense. Led by guards Anthony Polite and M.J. Walker, Florida State’s excellent 3-point shooting poses the most dangerous threat to Michigan’s chances of survival. This will likely be a very hard-fought battle for the Wolverines, and one we wouldn’t be surprised to see go down to the wire.