Shocks Aplenty In March Madness Sweet 16-Elite Eight Goes As Expected

Wow! I didn’t see that coming, did you?

The two days of Sweet 16 action at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament have given us yet more shocks and surprises in what has become a tournament that seems to have turned the established order in college basketball on its head.

Let’s recap both days of extraordinary action, by starting with a look at Thursday’s games, which saw the favorites to win the tournament with many bookmakers, such as PointsBet Sportsbook, Gonzaga Bulldogs, facing off against Arkansas.

We will then go on to look at the games that took place on Sunday in the Elite Eight Round, which, contrary to the rest of this amazing tournament, all went with the seeded teams.

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Thursday Nightmares Day For Top Seeds

Usually by the time we reach the Sweet 16, any shocks that occurred have happened in the

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 24: Julian Strawther #0 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after being defeated by the Arkansas Razorbacks with a final score of 68-74 in the Sweet Sixteen round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Chase Center on March 24, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

first few rounds and the cream of the college game now rises to the top.

Well, that is precisely NOT what happened this time around as two number 1 seeds saw their hopes of a National Championships come to a screeching halt with two mighty upsets.

In the first game of the day, the favorites for the tournament, Gonzaga, were defeated 68-74 by the Arkansas Razorbacks.

As was the case in their Round of 32 game, Gonzaga started slowly and trailed the Razorbacks by three at half time.

Unlike their other games, when the Zags hit the accelerate button, the Razorbacks matched them and claimed an outstanding victory with JD Notae scoring 21 points and Trey Wade and Jaylin Williams contributing 15 each.

Gonzaga have now entered the tournament as the number 1 ranked team five times and they are yet to convert that into a National Championship.

Yet it wasn’t to be the only surprise of the night.

Cougars Pounce To Eliminate Number 1 Wildcats

The Arizona Wildcats had become many people’s favorites to win the tournament after Gonzaga had been eliminated earlier on in the evening.

Those hopes were extinguished in emphatic style by the #5 ranked Houston Cougars, who won both halves by six points to claim a comprehensive 60-72 victory over the other number 1 seed in action today.

Jamal Shead contributed 21 points, with Kyler Edwards adding 19 as the pair contributed well over half the Cougars total.

In truth, the Cougars fully deserved the win. The Wildcats never led the game and their issues with turnovers and on defense both resurfaced during this game.

And the Cougars took full advantage to claim the win turning the 14 turnovers into 24 points.

The other two games on Thursday did go with the form book and seeding as my tip for the

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 24: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates a basket against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the second half in the Sweet Sixteen round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Chase Center on March 24, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

title, Duke overcame third seed Texas Tech 78-73 in a very high quality encounter with potential #1 NBA Draft pick Pablo Banchero top scoring for the loaded Duke team with 22 points.

Coach K’s dream of a National Title in his final season as coach therefore still remains alive.

The other second seed in action, Villanova also progressed thanks to a solid 63-55 victory over the Michigan Wolverines.

Poor shooting from the Wolverines proved costly as the Wildcats took advantage to claim a big win and a place in the Elite Eight.

Villanova will now face Houston in the Elite Eight, with Duke facing Arkansas.

Friday’s NCAAB Tournament Roundup

There was another huge surprise on Friday in the Sweet 16 when the lowest ranked team

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – MARCH 24: Kyler Edwards #11 of the Houston Cougars reacts during the second half against the Arizona Wildcats in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 Round at AT&T Center on March 24, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

remaining in the competition, Saint Peter’s, clinched a superb 67=64 win over #3 Purdue.

Trailing by four at the half, the Peacocks produced a superb display in the second half to defeat the Boilermakers in what was a genuine team effort, with Matthew Lee the only player to amass more than 30 minutes on the court.

North Carolina’s superb run in the tournament continued when they landed another surprise win, this time over UCLA. Caleb Love was the star performer landing 30 points as he played every minute of the game, while Armando Bacot assisted with 15 rebounds and 14 points of his own as the Tar Heels bettered last year’s Final Four opponents.

Tenth seeds Miami Hurricanes blew away Iowa State earning a 70-56 victory, with Kameron McGusty, perhaps the best name for a Hurricanes player ever, scoring a team-high 27 points.

In the other game, Kansas kept their hopes alive and are now the only #1 seed left in the tournament after their 66-61 win over Providence.

It certainly gave the Elite Eight round a somewhat surprising look compared to what we expected with the seeds from the Sweet 16, but in the end the Elite Eight Round did go with the seedings.

Elite Eight – Surprise! This Time There Were No Surprises!

Second seed Villanova got the Elite Eight round underway on Saturday with a very tricky tie

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – MARCH 27: KC Ndefo #11 of the St. Peter’s Peacocks blocks a shot by Caleb Love #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second half in the Elite Eight round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Center on March 27, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

against the Houston Cougars, but in the end, in what was a low-scoring affair, the Wildcats seven-point half time lead proved to be decisive as they hung on to win 50-44 to become the first team into the Final Four.

They were joined in the Final Four by my tip for the tournament, Duke, who claimed a 78-69 over the #4 seed Arizona Razorbacks with AJ Griffin (18) and Pablo Banchero (16) top scoring for the Blue Devils.

With two number 2 seeds through, the first (and only) number 1 seed then made it into the Final Four in the next game as Kansas finally ended Miami FL excellent run with a comprehensive 76-50 victory as the Hurricane’s finally ran out of steam, scoring just 15 points in the second quarter (to the Jayhawks 47) as the top seeds came back from a 35-29 half time deficit to clinch the win.

In the final Elite Eight game, Saint Peter’s incredible run also came to an end when they were comfortably beaten by UNC 69-49.

The Tar Heels doubled the 19 points that the Peacocks managed in the first half, amassing 38 and it was a lead they never looked likely to lose as they kept pace with the Peacocks in the second half to clinch a surprisingly comfortable victory.

Final Four Showdowns

The results of the 12 games across the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds mean that the Final Four games are as follows:

Kansas (1) v Villanova (2)
Duke (2) v UNC (8)

Both games will be played next weekend and of course, this has altered the betting on the outright winner market quite considerably.

Latest Betting Odds With PointsBet

It’s fair to say that the results in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds have shaken up the betting on the outright winner market with PointsBet Sportsbook.

Currently the new favorites to win are Duke who are now +160, just slightly shorter odds than Kansas at +180. Villanova at +475 and North Carolina at +500 are the two outsiders.

Pablo Banchero of Duke is +300 favorite to be named the MVP of the tournament with Collin Gillespie (Villanova) at +750, Remy Martin (Kansas) +1000 and Armando Bacot (UNC) +1300 his nearest rivals in the betting.

Remember to check back next week for Collin Hulbert’s tips for the Final Four and of course, who will likely go on to become the new National Champions!

Featured Image – CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MARCH 27: Christian Braun #2 of the Kansas Jayhawks dunks the ball against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half in the Elite Eight round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at United Center on March 27, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Author: Paula Dunn