The 2022 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 schedule has been dissected, up to Re-picked by our expertsFinally, with Thursday night activity from the western region in San Francisco and Southern District in San Antonio. The evening will see two of the three remaining No. 1 seeds in play and both of the only No. 2 seeds, including duke square with the number 3 Texas Tech On the last – and possibly final – stop of Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement tour.
From a viewing perspective, the evening will start with the top seed Gonzaga Take Workbook No. 4 Arkansas In the Western Region (7:09 PM ET) with the second-placed early slate option Villanova And seed number 11 Michigan – One of four double-digit seeds to make Sweet 16 – in the South (7:29 p.m.). Jumping between these games will provide anything a college basketball player could desire, from a track meet in Gonzaga-Arkansas to a slower-paced half-court fight between the Wildcats and Wolverines.
The first game at the bottom of the list is perhaps the most interesting as No. 2 seed Duke tries to keep this historic season going in a match with third place at Texas Tech in the Western District (9:39 p.m.). But don’t get so caught up in the novels that you miss out on what could be the best game of the day: the Night Cup in the Southern District between #1 Arizona and number 5 Houston (9:59 pm).
Enough schedule. Here are the must-see story events on Thursday night, followed by a livestream guide to all the action.
Duke faces the toughest test of the tournament
Since the second round match with Tom Izu and Michigan State Set, it was clear that every time Duke took the floor at this NCAA tournament, there would be a possibility that it would be Krzyzewski’s final as head coach. Encountering an old friend in Izzo and a common enemy in Michigan brought more interest to the Coach K tour of retirement, but what Texas Tech lacks in the narrative it makes up for in being a tougher challenge to the ranked No. 2 Blue Devils.
Texas Tech offers a level of defensive proficiency and intensity, particularly on the periphery, which Duke hasn’t had to contend with often this season. There is currently no ACC team ranked in the top 40 in modified defensive proficiency, according to KenPom, and the only teams in the top 50 are North Carolina (No. 42) and Duke (No. 43), the two teams whose numbers have benefited from a boost to two championship wins. The way Duke’s guards handle pressing the ball will determine the type of game that will take place and whether or not the Blue Devils’ talent advantage will be sufficient to win what the odds makers believe will be a close match.
Speaking of the possibilities, Duke opened as an underdog for only the fourth time in 26 Sweet 16 games under coach K. Each of those previous three times, according to ESPN’s Chris Valica, the Blue Devils bounced back from the tournament before reaching the Elite Eight.
West Coast 1-seeds on sudden alert
No. 1 seed Gonzaga beat No. 9 seed Memphis By four points, top-ranked Arizona needed extra time to beat the ninth seed TCU By five points. Both teams, who were also ranked as the top seed on the field on Sunday set by the committee, will work Thursday night in the hope of continuing their championship campaigns that almost ended much earlier than expected.
In ranked No. 4 Arkansas, Gonzaga will find a team that will be happy to play high-ride basketball. In fact, Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks might welcome a challenge after drawing Vermont and New Mexico State — both teams with below-average cadence metrics for the season — in the first two rounds. Arkansas has won this season against KentuckyAnd the Tennessee And the Auburn, but took all three wins at the comfortable confines of Budd Walton Arena. Capitalizing on that same magic in San Francisco can be a challenge, but Gonzaga shouldn’t get past the Razorbacks’ ability to make this game challenging.
Arizona shouldn’t have to worry about taking its opponent too seriously after Houston sent the No.5 seeded fourth seed Illinois Double digits in the second round. The Wildcats have already gone toe-to-toe with a tough team of Texas And they’ve barely come out with their season intact, so looking past Kelvin Sampson and Cougar would be a costly mistake. Houston’s defense can make a team as uncomfortable as the TCU, only the Cougars have a deeper set of offensive weapons and a much higher level of proficiency on both sides of the ball. Arizona wants to run, while Houston wants to grind. The contrast of styles will result in a great game.
San Antonio will host the rematch between Vilanova and Michigan
The Southern District 1 of the tournament features a rematch of the 2018 National Championship between Villanova and Michigan, where the Wildcats won their third NCAA Championship title on the program with a 79-72 victory. The stakes are somewhat smaller, as with those final four at the Alamodome and regional action this weekend at the AT&T Center in the San Antonio Spurs, but neither team takes the opportunity easily. Although the seed streak shows Michigan at number 11, this Wolverines hit another cog and go a level more reflective of the name on the uniform. This is Michigan, on its second weekend for the fifth time in the last five championships, trying to advance to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row.
Compared to other top teams in the field, Villanova has flown under the radar with a consistency that lacks the kind of urgency that grabs headlines. After a seven-year drought at a Sweet 16 that was broken during Jay Wright’s first National title in 2016, we’re kind of expecting the Wildcats to be lurking around with a shot. What Villanova fans are commenting on is the way this team has found ways to win close and competitive matches throughout the regular season and into March. In Villanova’s 14 games since the start of February, 10 have been decided by singles numbers, and the Wildcats are 9-1 in those games and 12-2 overall.
Sweet 16 Thursday live guide
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