Sweet 16 Picks: Take Duke, Arizona in Thursday's regional semifinals

The Sweet 16 opens up with four powerhouse matchups on Thursday.

Gonzaga is the only overwhelming favorite, and despite the high over/under for its clash with Arkansas, Thursday's opener could be more of a grind.

Villanova takes on a familiar foe in Michigan and the extra days of preparation between the second round and Sweet 16 could be vital to the Wildcats' success.

Duke-Texas Tech could close as a Pick 'Em, or with Duke as a slight favorite. Texas Tech has been favored for most of the week because of its incredible defense. The Blue Devils have the best player in the matchup and that could make the difference.

Houston-Arizona is the most fascinating matchup of the four and the game could come down to scoring depth if either defense shuts down a top scorer.

Arizona's second-round grind over TCU will likely benefit it against a team with Final Four experience.

Sweet 16 Picks

March Madness Record: 26-27-1

Arkansas vs. Gonzaga (Under 155) (7:09 p.m. ET, CBS)

There are a few angles to the under hitting in Thursday's opener.

Arkansas and Gonzaga both rank in the top 15 in defensive adjusted efficiency on KenPom.

The Hogs need to win ugly, similar to what Saint Mary's put Gonzaga through at the end of the WCC regular season.

Arkansas proved in both of its victories that it can win tight battles in which it does not make shots at a high rate.

JD Notae can be a bit wild at times and Jaylin Williams is facing a significant mismatch against Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme.

If Gonzaga controls the contest, it will likely put the clamps down on Arkansas' two top players and that would result in the Razorbacks scoring in the 60s.

Gonzaga's free-throw struggles could also bring down the total score. The Zags were 13-for-24 from the line in the second-round win over Memphis.

Michigan vs. Villanova (-5) (7:29 p.m. ET, TBS)

I think the spread is perfect for Michigan-Villanova.

Villanova holds the edge in guard depth with Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore.

Gillespie's lengthy experience at guard cancels out Michigan's high level of experience with Eli Brooks.

The Wolverines hold an advantage in height with Hunter Dickinson, but the Wildcats proved throughout the season that they can win with their height disadvantage.

Villanova can pull Dickinson out of the paint with Eric Dixon, or attack him with driving guards into the lane to get him into foul trouble.

If Villanova got Michigan on short rest, I'd be more concerned with that matchup, but I think the extra days of preparation should help Jay Wright's team move on.

Texas Tech vs. Duke (-105) (9:39 p.m. ET, CBS)

Texas Tech poses an intriguing matchup for Duke.

The Red Raiders rank first in defensive adjusted efficiency and they held both of their opening weekend opponents under 65 points.

Duke comes to the floor with much more athleticism than Montana State and Notre Dame and it has a likely lottery pick in Paolo Banchero.

Banchero's athleticism and Mark Williams' height in the paint will hurt Texas Tech's typically strong defense.

A.J. Griffin's ankle being healthy is a huge help to Duke's offense and its approach on the perimeter.

I don't think this is the spot where Coach K's career ends. I think that comes in two days against Gonzaga.

Houston vs. Arizona (-1.5) (9:59 p.m. ET, TBS)

Arizona has the best player in its matchup with Houston.

Bennedict Mathurin took over the second-round win over TCU and he could cause a world of trouble to Houston's lengthy defense.

Arizona's other players gained confidence from the first weekend, starting with Christian Koloko, who had a career high 28 points against TCU.

The Wildcats still have an ace-in-the-hole in Kerr Kriisa, who used the last weekend to test out the sprained ankle he suffered at the Pac-12 tournament.

If Arizona gets a handful of three-point shots out of Kriisa, it could be incredibly hard for Houston's defense to stop because it would hit the Cougars from all angles of the court.

Houston carries the edge in Final Four experience, but it does not have a superstar, like Mathurin, that can take over an entire game.

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