Onto the Sweet 16! Before we begin to look at each game, here’s where each of the 16 teams are ranked nationally overall at KenPom:

Gonzaga, No. 1
Houston, No. 2
Arizona, No. 3
Kansas, No. 5
Texas Tech, No. 6
UCLA, No. 8
Duke, No. 10
Villanova, No. 11
Purdue, No. 12
Arkansas, No. 18
North Carolina, No. 22
Michigan, No. 27
Providence, No. 32
Miami, No. 45
St. Peter’s No. 102

GONZAGA (1 seed) vs. ARKANSAS (4 seed)

Betting Line: As of noon Thursday was a 10-point favorite

Notable Investment Trends: Gonzaga is 0-2 against the spread in the tournament, and 6-9 ATS overall in non-conference games. Arkansas is 4-1 ATS as an underdog this season, and 3-0 against the spread when listed as a dog by at least 6.5 points.

This Game, Boiled Down: Arkansas ranks 314th nationally in shooting percentage on 3 balls, and that isn’t helpful for a team looking to take down a No. 1 seed. Overall the Razorbacks rank 240th nationally in eFG% offense against Division I teams – and that’s against a Zaga defense that has held opponents to the lowest eFG% shooting percentage in the nation. The Arkansas has rated well in the metrics this season, but SEC teams have had their defense shredded in this tournament. And even though the Razorbacks won the first-round game, they struggled to shut down Vermont’s offense in the first round … Arkansas is effective at forcing turnovers but Gonzaga turns it over on only 15.5 percent of its possessions — 29th-best in the nation … Arkansas has shot a weak 35.5% from the floor during the 2022 NCAA Tournament; Gonzaga is shooting 51% percent.

KenPom Forecast: Gonzaga, 82-72.

Bernie’s Secret Adobo Sauce: Gonzaga, 86-71


VILLANOVA (2 seed) vs. MICHIGAN (11 seed)

Betting Line: ‘Nova is a five-point favorite.

Notable Investment Trends: Villanova is 6-1 straight up and 6-1 against the spread this season when favored by five points or fewer. Villanova has won 77 percent of its games this season when facing an opponent that’s won at least 65 percent of its games. Michigan has a winning percentage of 47% when matched against the same quality of opponent.

This Game, Boiled Down: Respect to Michigan for making it this far, but the Wolverines have the least efficient defense (points allowed per possession) of any team that advanced to the Sweet 16. Overall, that defensive efficiency rating ranks 220th in the nation. That leads to a favorable matchup for Villanova, which ranks No. 8 nationally in offensive efficiency. Moreover the WIldcats are a Top 50 team in three-point shooting, and are the No. 1 free-throw shooting team in the nation. Nova’s defense, 30th nationally, has allowed 65 points or fewer in its last six games. This game should have a slow pace, so look for the “under” to prevail. As in under 135.5 combined points. Because both teams play at a deliberate, low-speed tempo I think this will be a tight one.

Ken Pom Forecast: Villanova, 71-66

Bernie’s Secret Adobo Sauce: Villanova, 74-68


DUKE (2 seed) vs. TEXAS TECH (3 seed)

Betting Line: Pick ‘em.

Investment Trends: Duke is only 4-8 against the spread in its last 12 games, but that doesn’t matter much here if the game remains a betting toss-up affair … and Texas Tech has a similar profile, having gone 2-6 ATS in its last eight games as a favorite.

This Game, Boiled Down: This should be a delightful game. Contrasts are everywhere. Duke has one of the youngest teams in the nation, ranking 346th in experience. Texas Tech is the opposite, ranking 34th in experience. The Duke offense is No. 4 nationally at Ken Pom in offensive efficiency; Texas Tech is KenPom’s No. 1 team nationally on the defensive end. Duke can shoot: 29th ninth nationally in three-ball percentage, and 9th in two-point shots. One thing to look at: Texas Tech thrives on getting opponents to turn the ball over. And even though Duke doesn’t have a truly defined point guard the Blue Devils have the ninth-lowest turnover rate in the nation. Tech’s defense will have to own the rim, because Duke has been driving the lane with success in the tournament … this is a concern for Duke supporters: Coach K’s team has yielded at least 76 points in five of their last six games, allowing a 41.5% make percentage on threes during that time — and with only 7.8 turnovers forced. Duke is 335th in the country in turnovers forced per possession in road and neutral court games on the season. Texas Tech is 93rd in points scored per possession, but a key to their success is offensive rebounding. Their rebound percentages on misses ranks 27th nationally. Will this be it for Coach K? Or will he glare his way into the Elite Eight? What a fantastic matchup.

KenPom Forecast: Texas Tech, 69-68

Bernie’s Secret Adobo Sauce: Duke, 72-70.


ARIZONA (1 seed) vs. HOUSTON (5 seed)

Betting Line: Arizona is favored by 1.5 points.

Notable Investment Trends: Houston is 24-12 against the spread this season, the second-best record among remaining tournament teams. Houston is 8-1 ATS in neutral-site games this season, and this one will be played close to home in San Antonio.

This Game, Boiled Down: Arizona has abundant talent and athleticism and plays high-speed ball – and teams that fit that profile give Houston trouble. The Arizona offense ranks sixth nationally in points per possession and has scored 81+ points in eight consecutive games and 12 of the last 13. It’s hard to imagine anyone giving Houston fits; the Cougars are ranked 10th nationally in both offense and defense efficiency by KenPom. Three of Houston’s four losses this season came against teams that ranked in the top 50 nationally in adjusted tempo: Memphis (twice) and Alabama. We’re looking at a glaring contrast of style, and here’s the primary question: can Houston coach Kelvin Sampson get his guys to slow Arizona down? His team must do that against a roadrunner that ranks 4th nationally in shortest time per possession. (And this is also a roadrunner with height, leading the nation in rebounds and setting a program record for blocked shots.) But if the Cougars can dictate pace they can corner the Wildcats, who are 3-3 this season when scoring fewer than 75 points. And in all three contests Arizona lost to highly rated defenses: Tennessee (No. 3 nationally), UCLA (No. 12) and Colorado (No. 46.) Knowing all of that, Arizona’s will come out fast and accelerate the tempo with the hope of forcing fouls and wearing the Cougars down. In Houston’s averaged just under 24 free throws per game, with an average of 17 makes. Fatigue and fouls are hazardous to Sampson’s team, which doesn’t have a deep bench. But I’m a Sampson believer; in the last three NCAA Tournaments the Cougars are 10-2 and have reached three Sweet 16s and a Final Four.

KenPom Forecast: Houston, 74-73.

Bernie’s Secret Adobo Sauce: Houston, 75-72.

Enjoy the games. I’ll be back here tomorrow to take a look at the four Friday-night games: St. Peter’s vs. Purdue, Providence vs. Kansas, North Carolina vs. UCLA, and Iowa State vs. Miami.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the “Bernie Show” podcast at 590thefan.com — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

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Please email your “Ask Bernie” questions to BernScoops@gmail.com

All stats used in this column were sourced from Sports Reference, KenPom, Sportsline, and VSIN.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.