The Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament continues on Monday with eight more games. And just like that after today, we’re going to be down to the Sweet Sixteen. There is always a lot of anticipation leading up to the NCAA Tournament, and before you know it, the tournament is done pretty quickly. Fortunately, though, from the Sweet Sixteen onward, things begin to really get tense. There aren’t really any “upsets” in a sense when it comes down to it. If coming up with a perfect bracket wasn’t impossible enough already.
Maybe when it comes to seeding it counts as a massive upset, but mid-major programs are more on an even playing field with the power conferences than ten years ago. Some of these smaller programs have a lot of chemistry having played together for more than a year or two. You’ll see plenty of one and dones at big programs and off they go to the NBA, so that certainly has something to do with it.
On Sunday, the upsets were No. 8 Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean beating No. 1 Illinois, 71-58, and No. 15 Oral Roberts downing No. 7 Florida, 81-78. No. 12 Oregon State beat No. 4 Oklahoma State, 80-70, and No. 11 Syracuse beat No. 3 West Virginia, 75-72. None of those teams were more than double-digit favorites. Florida was the biggest favorite at -9, so it’s an upset, just not as large as what the media will portray.
No. 13 Ohio upset No. 4 Virginia in the First Round by a score of 62-58. The Bobcats are hot right now, so an upset over a vulnerable Virginia team wasn’t all that surprising. I was riding Ohio in that game and the Bobcats won straight up as 7-point underdogs. Ohio is on a four-game winning streak, including three straight wins as an underdog. They’re also winners in 10 of their previous 11 outings.
The Creighton Bluejays stand in their way from getting to the Sweet Sixteen. They hope to win as an underdog for the fourth straight game, and add another straight up win for an underdog in the NCAA Tournament. Creighton heads into the Second Round off an opening win against UC Santa Barbara in a nail biter, 63-62.
UC Santa Barbara had a talented lineup, so it wasn’t overly surprising to see that one go down to the final seconds. The Bluejays were blown off the floor in the Big East Tournament, 73-48, so it was nice to get some confidence back with a win. Head below for our free Ohio vs. Creighton pick on March 22, 2021.
Ohio Bobcats (No. 13) vs. Creighton Bluejays (No. 5) NCAA Tournament Betting Odds:
Ohio vs. Creighton Prediction:
I don’t believe it was so much a case of Virginia overlooking Ohio, then it was Ohio actually being a pretty good team. Virginia was on and off all season, and it was going to take more than just going through the motions to beat Ohio. It’s only one win, though, and Ohio needs another to reach the Sweet Sixteen. Ohio has gotten hot at the perfect time, as their solid offense found just enough points against Virginia to get them over the hump for a 62-58 win.
Ohio is 25th in the NCAA with 80.2 points per game, and 24th with a field goal percentage of 48.4%. Through their previous five outings, Ohio has netted 76.8 points per game. The First Round matchup against Virginia was the first time in four games that they failed to score more than 80 points. In six of their previous eight games, Ohio has put in at least 80 points. While they only scored 62 points against one of the best defenses in the NCAA, the Bobcats hit clutch shots in the second-half to get back in the game and hold onto the lead.
The Bobcats were able to beat the Cavaliers at their own game on Saturday. Jason Preston, who is the offensive catalyst of Ohio, netted 11 points and 13 rebounds. He had a productive outing, but is capable of doing more damage on the score sheet. That has to concern Creighton. If Preston does get hot from the field, the Bobcats are going to have a big lift in this one. Preston has scored 16.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game this season. He can do a little bit of everything.
Creighton were up and down this season in the Big East. They finished with a record of 21-8 and were more often good than not. However, the Bluejays did struggle in spots, with losses against Villanova, Xavier, Providence, Georgetown, and Marquette. Villanova is the only team still playing basketball. Creighton notched 78.4 points per game for 42nd in the country, and 145th defensively with 69.1 points per game. If Ohio plays with the same defensive energy that they did against Virginia, then they can match up nicely versus the Bluejays. I’m not fading Preston and the Bobcats with plus points on the board.