Joe Duffy’s Picks has hit 7-of-10 in the NCAA Tournament. Two Big Dance sides are up for Thursday. Joe Duffy’s Picks is having another great season. But everyone who cares about long-term winning is already a permanent client. For those who just want to know what have we done lately, that 7-3 is just a start. See what all the top handicappers have at OffshoreInsiders.com
Kentucky has the top defense in country allowing just 85.5 points per 100 possessions. WVU is 36th at 95.1 points per 100 possessions. WVU only 38th best offensive efficiency at 110.8, Wildcats 6th at 119.
West Virginia will attack Devon Booker with pick and roll. Kentucky is a great offensive rebounding team, while WVU is weak on defensive boards. Kentucky has a 39.2 offensive rebounding percentage so preventing second chance points a major challenge for the Mountaineers.
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WVU also allows a whopping 46.8 field goal percentage versus teams normally getting 43.7. Bob Huggins 8-2 straight up to John Calipari but was a favorite seven times. WVU travles 158 miles, Kentucky 284. Kentucky is nine-deep so will not wear down. WVU leading scorer Juwan Staten missed four games and looked rusty, but should be close to 100 percent.
What will it take to beat Kentucky? Force Wildcats outside: In their last 3 close wins, Kentucky was 9-of-41 (22.0%) on 3-pointers. Kentucky got progressively better against high-pressure defenses as the year went on, facing four (plus Arkansas twice) teams among top 27 in turnover percentage. Calipari went with best five instead of platoon system and it worked like a charm.
Wichita State-Notre Dame
Notre Dame is luckiest team remaining in the Dance, rated 26th luckiest in the nation overall. Wichita State is 119. KenPom has them almost evenly matched with modest edge to Wichita State. Notre Dame had come up short each last six tournaments but has finally made it to the Sweet 16. Their opener against Northeastern went down to the last possession and their round of 32 game against Butler went into to an extra stanza.
The Irish have a travel edge here or as we like to call it, “a (not so)neutral court advantage.” Notre Dame 236 miles away, but Wichita State 872. If it’s possible to have a letdown in Sweet 16, certainly Wichita State beating Kansas would quality. Of course both teams would be looking ahead to Kentucky, but it is a big revenge game for Wichita State who beat the No. 1-seeded and undefeated Shockers 78-76 in the third round in St. Louis a year ago en route to the Final Four.
Wichita State has bar far the best transition defense in the country as only 14.5 field goal attempts against are in transition. Irish will have success off the dribble, especially when Jerian Grant is being guarded by Ron Baker. The Shockers struggle with elite penetration teams.
To beat Notre Dame, it takes size and offensive skill at the rim, which State has size but not great skill.
Arizona second best team in country with No. 7 offensive efficiency and No. 3 defense. Xavier travels 1895 miles, Arizona 442 to this round. Arizona 15-4 the last 19 against the spread, eight covers by 11 or more. Xavier had the size edge in both of its tournament games, and the Musketeers took advantage of that. Xavier has gone a combined 17-of-36 (47 percent) from beyond the arc in the tournament. Arizona coach Sean Miller left Xavier and compared it going from a Buick to a Lexus.
Xavier is most unlucky team left in tournament ranked 311 of 351 though Arizona 250th. Xavier has the nine toughest schedule in the nation, which ranks third of any team still alive.
Xavier has height with Jalen Reynolds and Matt Stainbrook. Stainbrook can pass out of high post and move Arizona’s defense around. Xavier plays an effective 1-3-1 zone and the only way to beat Arizona is to zone them and force them to take jumpers. Should Wildcats hit outside shots, Xavier is done because they cannot beat them man-to-man.
UNC’s Kennedy Meeks is questionable. He averages 11.6 points per game and 7.4 boards. Carolina best strength of schedule of any remaining team and No. 2 overall. Wisconsin is 20th. UNC most up-tempo team left and 12th in nation. Wisconsin slowest tempo of any remaining team and 346 of 351.
Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky powerful frontcourt but UNC is dangerous as there are widely considered to be an underachieving team hitting stride.
UNC has the second best interior defense allowing just 19.6 percent of field goal attempts at the rim. The Heels Marcus Paige is the type of guard who gives Wisconsin trouble: small and lickety-split.
Wisconsin has had a few days to adjust from lackluster opening pod.