Four teams have punched their tickets to the Elite Eight, and the results of Thursday’s Sweet 16 games guarantee that at least one Cinderella story will make it all the way to the Final Four. Two No.9 seeds and a No.11 seed will play in Saturday’s two regional finals.
No.11 Loyola-Chicago will face No.9 Kansas State in Atlanta, while No.9 Florida State will try to upset No.3 Michigan at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The higher seed is the betting favorite in both matchups, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see the lower seeded team win either contest.
Loyola is only a one-point underdog against Kansas State, according to OddsShark, and some sportsbooks even have the betting line set as a pick’em. The point spread is a little bigger in Saturday’s second game with Michigan favored by 4.5 points.
There’s no doubt that the Wolverines are the best of the four teams. They won the Big Ten Tournament, entering the 2018 NCAA Tournament as the No.7 ranked team in the country. They’ve now got 31 wins on the season after three consecutive March Madness victories by an average of 14 points. Michigan blew out Texas A&M 99-72 in the Sweet 16.
Loyola has certainly been the biggest story of the tournament, coming one win away from reaching the Final Four. The Ramblers weren’t expected to make it this far, though their run to the Elite Eight really hasn’t been that improbable. Loyola defeated No.3 Tennessee as a five-point underdog in the second round, and they were just a 1.5-point underdog in their games against No.6 Miami and No.7 Nevada.
The Ramblers entered the tournament on a hot streak, winning 17 of 18 games. Kansas State, on the other hand, struggled just prior to March Madness. The Wildcats went 2-3 in their five games before getting tournament wins over No.8 Creighton, No.16 UMBC and No.5 Kentucky.
No.9 Florida State has faced the most difficult schedule of the remaining four teams. The Seminoles have defeated No.8 Missouri, No.1 Xavier and No.4 Gonzaga.
No.11 Loyola-Chicago (+1) vs. No.9 Kansas State, 126.5
Prediction ATS: Loyola
No.9 Florida State (+4.5) vs. No.3 Michigan, 143
Prediction ATS: Michigan