By Mike Szvetitz and Gerry Ahern FrontPageBets
Soon we’ll be in the Elite Eight of the 2022 NCAA tournament.
The remaining four members of this select group will be determined in-game Friday night at the East and Midwest Regionals.
Will the shoe match any of the three remaining Cinderellas with a double-digit seed?
FrontPageBets editors share their picks as we near the Final Four in New Orleans.
Follow our predictions here and get updates on NCAA tournament teams from our partners in the Lee Enterprises sports network.
#15 St. Peter vs. #3 Purdue
Region: East (Philadelphia)
Spread: Purdue -12.5 (-110); St. Peter’s Basilica +12.5 (-110)
money line: Purdue -1000; St. Peter +650
Way to Sweet 16: Saint Peter’s (21-11) is the third 15 seed to advance to a regional semifinal. Its miraculous run of making it this far was based on an unexpected waltz through the MAAC tournament before slaying giants Kentucky and then defeating mid-major mainstay Murray State. Coach Shaheen Holloway’s side won with classic New Jersey toughness and defense. The Peacocks held the Racers to 34.6% shooting in their last game. Older striker KC Ndefo deals the most damage on offense. His 17 points and 10 rebounds help set the ante at Murray State. Purdue (29-7), who spent some time at the nation’s No. 1 before suffering some stumbles, will cause some serious matchup problems. The Boilermakers beat the Ivy out of Yale and then treated Texas. Sophomore center Zach Edey (7-foot-4, 300 pounds) is a liability. He had a double-double (11 points, 10 boards) against the Longhorns. Sophomore guard Jaden Ivey is the leading scorer. He had 18 points, shot 57.1% from field and smashed Texas with a dagger from deep. Saint Peter is 23-9 against the spread. Purdue is 15-20-1.
#4 Providence vs. #1 Kansas
Region: Midwest (Chicago)
Spread: Kansas -7.5 (-110); Providence +7.5 (-110)
money line: Kansas-320; Providence +250
Way to Sweet 16: For the first time since 2018, Kansas (30-6) is back in the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks are led by Player of the Year finalist Ochai Agbaji, who is averaging 19.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while averaging 40% shoots 3-point area. Agbaji has helped lead Kansas on a seven-game winning streak, including beating No. 16 Texas Southern, 83-56, in the first round and No. 9 Creighton, 79-72, in the second. Three other Jayhawks are averaging double digits for an offense that has averaged nearly 79 points in their last 10 games. Providence (27-5) is making its first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 1997. Led by center Nate Watson with 13.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, the Friars won their first two games of the NCAA tournament with 37 points combined, including a 79-51 second-round win over No. 12 Richmond. UCLA has covered five of their last six games against the spread. Providence is an underdog this season at 8-1 ATS.
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 4 UCLA
Region: East (Philadelphia)
Spread: UCLA -2.5 (-110); UNZ +2.5 (-110)
money line: UCLA-135; UNZ +115
Way to Sweet 16: Two blue-blooded college basketball players face off in an exciting duel. UCLA (28-7) is making their 36th appearance with the Sweet 16, while North Carolina (26-9) is making their 35th appearance. The Bruins are led by guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., who has averaged 16.3 points per game over a 12-game streak in which UCLA has won 10, including 15 points or more in eight straight games. Jaquez’s status for Friday night’s game is up in the air as the junior twisted his ankle in the second half against Saint Mary’s in the second round and failed to return. It is listed as day by day. If Jaquez can’t leave, the Bruins will have to adapt, which could open the door for UNC to break through. UCLA defeated No. 13 Akron 57-53 and No. 5 Saint Mary’s 72-56 to advance to the Sweet 16. 1 Baylor in the second round, 93-86, in OT. Sure, the Tar Heels gambled away a 25-point lead over the Bears, but they turned it around in overtime. Led by big man Armando Bacot, who is averaging 16.4 points and shooting at a 58.8% clip, UNC’s win as an 8-seed over a No. 1 marks the third time the Tar Heels have this accomplished a feat in NCAA tournament history. According to Richmond Times Dispatch columnist David Telwho have favourited Tar Heels are like “kids in a candy store”. UCLA is the favorite this season at 17-12-1 against the spread, but UNC is 6-1 against UCLA all-time. The Tar Heels are 4-5 ATS as underdogs this year, but are 2-0 (Duke and Baylor) in the last two games they fall in that category.
The selection: North Carolina, 79-77
No. 11 Iowa State vs. No. !0 Miami
Region: Midwest (Chicago)
Spread: Miami -2.5 (-110); State of Iowa +2.5 (-110)
money line: Miami -145; State of Iowa +125
About Below: 133.5 (-110)
Way to Sweet 16: Iowa State (22-12), who won two games a year ago, is the biggest upset of this round aside from Saint Peter’s. The Cyclones handled a confused LSU roster in their opening game without fired coach Will Wade and then stunned Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Defense is a great balance in the tournament, and the ISU limited the Badgers to 29.8% shooting and kept Big Ten player of the year Johnny Davis at bay. Senior transfer guard Gabe Kalscheur was the star with 22 points against Wisconsin. Senior guard Izaiah Brockington is the top scorer with 17.1 points per game. The Quad-City Times reports on the storm of cyclones. Miami (25-10) was among the last free invitees to the dance, but impressively dismissed USC and then beat second-place Auburn 79-61 to sweeten the pot. Coach Jim Larranaga’s Hurricanes are an experienced squad. Senior guard Kameron McGusty had 20 points in the win over Auburn. Senior guard Charlie Moore had 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. What Miami lacks in size it makes up for in cleverness. Iowa State is 19-15 against the spread. Miami is 20-15.
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Mike Szvetitz is General Manager and Content Director for FrontPageBets.com. Szvetitz is a veteran reporter and editor with 22 years of experience, including 17 years as a sports editor in Florida, Alabama and Virginia, where he covers everything from prep to pro. His column “View From The Lazy Boy” won several state and national awards.
Gerry Ahern is Senior Content Editor for FrontPageBets. A veteran sports editor and digital media manager with 35 years of experience, he has overseen coverage of major sporting events, from the Super Bowls to the Final Fours to the Olympics and the Masters.