Just like with the third day of the tournament, the fourth day lends itself to fatigue and motivation entering the mix. Motivation shouldn’t be much of a worry in this situation, given that there weren’t all that many upsets on Friday, but fatigue can definitely play a role in the second game in three days (or third in five in Notre Dame’s case).
The unders went 10-6 in Friday’s matchups, but with closer matchups on the docket for Sunday, that might not repeat itself. Here are my plays for Sunday’s games.
Michigan State vs. Duke
Pick: Over 144.5 (-110)
While everyone focuses on the matchup between Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski, I’m more interested in the points these teams put up this year. Michigan State hasn’t really shown signs of stopping anyone, and Duke doesn’t really play defense like a typical Mike Krzyzewski team.
The Blue Devils have an annoying tendency of letting teams hang around with them too long (see: Cal State Fullerton on Friday), and weird things tend to happen to Duke in this building. They’ve played in Greenville twice before in the tournament, and they gave up 77 in surviving Notre Dame in 2002 and 88 in losing to South Carolina in 2017. Michigan State should do its share of the scoring here.
Notre Dame vs. Texas Tech
Pick: Over 132.5 (-110)
Picking an over is always dangerous when Texas Tech is involved, given how the Red Raiders play defense, but Texas Tech does have a weakness here. The Red Raiders are not great at defending the 3-pointer, and that happens to be Notre Dame’s strength. The Fighting Irish can get hot from the outside at any time, and if they do, they’re highly likely to put up points.
With a total this low, it’s not going to take much to send this game over the number. As long as Texas Tech can hit at anywhere close to the percentage it shot against Montana State, the Red Raiders will do their part to cash the over here.
Miami vs. Auburn
Pick: Over 144.5 (-110)
On paper, this seems like it’s going to be a lower-scoring game, but there’s one thing that could prevent that from happening. Auburn has a real problem with sending teams to the free throw line. The Tigers commit a high amount of fouls, and Miami tends to cash in when it gets to the line.
Throw in that the Auburn guards really aren’t quick enough to stay with Miami’s guard-heavy lineup and the Hurricanes don’t have the size they need to stop Auburn inside, and it doesn’t look like either one can stop the other. This looks like it will feature more than enough points.
Texas vs. Purdue
Pick: Over 134.5 (-110)
Texas has been all defense this year, so why would things change now? Because the Longhorns have discovered they can score and they probably don’t have the personnel needed to slow down Purdue’s attack. The Boilermakers have put up big numbers all year long and Chris Beard doesn’t really have enough of his personnel in place to stop Jaden Ivey and Zach Edey.
Besides those two, Purdue is starting to rediscover its attacking prowess. The Boilers shot it well against Yale because they had a huge advantage in talent and length, but Purdue had been struggling to get everyone on the same page for the past few weeks. After getting that first game out of the way, the Boilermakers will likely be a far more dangerous opponent that is very capable of scoring.