The 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been nothing short of wild, and it didn’t take long for the ‘Madness’ to kick in. The first day of the tournament saw 15-seed Saint Peters knock off John Calapari’s 2-seed Kentucky Wildcats, and the Peacocks aren’t done! The boys from Jersey City are still kicking and will face off with Matt Painter’s talented Purdue Boilermakers in the Sweet 16®.
Here are 16 things to watch for ahead of The Sweet 16® (March 24-25) and Elite Eight® (March 26-27). Be sure to catch all the games on TBS and CBS!
Sweet 16® – Day One, Thursday, March 24th
No. 4 Arkansas vs No. 1 Gonzaga – 7:09pm ET – CBS
No. 11 Michigan vs No. 2 Villanova – 7:29pm ET – TBS
No. 3 Texas Tech vs No. 2 Duke – 9:39pm ET (approx) – CBS
No. 5 Houston vs No. 1 Arizona – 9:59pm ET (approx) – TBS
No. 4 Arkansas vs No. 1 Gonzaga – 7:09pm ET
Pressure: We’re not just talking about the pressure Gonzaga faces to finally break through and win a National Championship, because that definitely exists. However, the Razorbacks are a team that are constantly pestering you. Gonzaga struggled with that pressure against Memphis, and it’s only going to ramp up vs the Hogs.
Slow and steady: Arkansas will try and push the pace as much as possible; after all, this is a team that lives at the free throw line but can’t shoot the three. Therefore, Gonzaga needs to stay composed and slow this game down while avoiding foul trouble. As long as the Zags get back on defense, they’ll take their chances that the Razorbacks will continue laying bricks from deep.
No. 11 Michigan vs No. 2 Villanova – 7:29pm ET
The Three Ball: Unlike Arkansas, one of Villanova’s biggest strengths is their ability to let it fly from deep. They are a disciplined team that doesn’t turn the ball over, and will wait to get good looks. On the flip side, Michigan is solid guarding against the trey ball. Tennessee shot 2-18 from deep, while CSU made just 12 threes on a whopping 35 attempts.
Collin Gillespie: When Collin Gillespie leaves the floor, so do Villanova’s chances. Coach Jay Wright trusts a solid six man rotation, and will sprinkle in three players to buy minutes for the starting five. With Gillespie on the bench, the weight falls on guard Justin Moore, so his team will need a big game from the talented junior.
No. 3 Texas Tech vs No. 2 Duke – 9:39pm ET
Age vs. Experience: College Basketball master Jon Rothstien said it best: The average age of the Duke Blue Devils is 19-years-old; the average age of the Texas Tech Red Raiders is 22-years-old. Something’s gotta give.
Turnovers: Duke is a team that can get a little sloppy with the ball, something that North Carolina took advantage of when they spoiled Coach K’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils are always hovering around 10 turnovers per game, while the Red Raiders are masters at causing them. For Coach K to continue his final ride in March Madness®, he’ll have to drill the team to take care of the ball.
No. 5 Houston vs No. 1 Arizona – 9:59pm ET
Cougar Efficiency: Another year, another run for Kelvin Sampson’s Houston Cougars. This squad embodies what we’ve come to expect from a Sampson team: They are highly efficient and play lockdown defense, plus all five starters average double figures, while controlling the paint and securing offensive rebounds.
Bennedict Mathurin: This sophomore from Montreal is must-see TV. He saved Arizona countless times in their battle against TCU, and he will certainly be called upon in this one.
Sweet 16® – Day Two, Friday, March 25th
No. 15 Saint Peter’s vs No. 3 Purdue – 7:09pm ET – CBS
No. 4 Providence vs No. 1 Kansas – 7:29pm ET – TBS
No. 8 North Carolina vs No. 4 UCLA – 9:39pm ET (approx) – CBS
No. 5 Houston vs No. 1 Arizona – 9:59pm ET (approx) – TBS
No. 15 Saint Peter’s vs No. 3 Purdue – 7:09pm ET
Doug Edert’s Mustache: Led by 45-year-old coach Shaheen Holloway, the Peacocks are this year’s cinderella. It’s been a true team effort in both wins vs No. 2 Kentuck and No. 7 Murray State. But the constant is the gloriously mustached sophomore guard Doug Edert, who scored 20 pts and 13 pts in their victories.
Purdue’s depth: The Boilermakers are as deep and talented as any team in the country. With the addition of 7’4” freshman Zach Edey, All-Big Ten forward Treveon Williams transitioned to come off the bench this season, and Jaden Ivey – widely expected to be a Top 10 pick in the NBA Draft – can put up 25 any given night. Unfortunately, Purdue has made a habit of letting teams hang around games for too long all season, a dangerous game to play at this stage of the tournament.
No. 4 Providence vs No. 1 Kansas – 7:29pm ET
Remy Martin is back: Arizona State transfer Remy Martin limped through the end of Kansas’ season with a bone bruise in his right knee, but the 3-time All-Pac-12 selection is off to a hot start in the tournament. Shooting guard Ochai Agbaji commands most of the attention, but Remy Martin takes Kansas from perennial power to legit contender.
Friars Defense: The Providence Friars are a senior-laden team who typically play exceptionally solid defense. As the defense goes, so does Ed Cooley’s team: If they can keep it close, the battle-tested Friars can win games late with their experience. If it’s an off-night on the defensive end and the Jayhawks get hot, Providence may not have a prayer.
No. 8 North Carolina vs No. 4 UCLA – 9:39pm ET
Which UNC Team Will Show Up? The Tar Heels have been Jekyll and Hyde all season long. They lost to a terrible Pittsburgh team but then turned around and beat Duke in Coach K’s last-ever home game. The rebounding will be there for UNC, but they have to be careful with the turnovers.
Vets: UCLA is a team of seasoned veterans who marched their way to the Final Four® last year as an 11-seed. Their poise and experience can get them through offensive droughts, but they can also blow a team away. We saw both these sides in their games against Akron and St. Mary’s.
No. 11 Iowa State vs No. 10 Miami – 9:59pm ET
Fast and Furious: Jim Larrañaga’s Miami Hurricanes may be undersized, but they’re an offense that can get out and run. Defense was not their strong suit, but they have been trending in the last month. Following an impressive performance versus a high fire-power Auburn team, Miami has the formula to knock off Iowa State.
Cyclone’s Offense: A team that won just TWO games in 2021 has matched that total in this year’s NCAA tournament alone. Defense is the Cyclones bread and butter, but it’s the offense that will need to step up. Miami put out a solid defensive performance against Auburn, but they have shown they can get lazy; before that win, they allowed over 74-points per game.