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Florida remains the favorite to win the South Region at Cowboys Stadium this weekend. Even though the Gators were a No. 3 seed, they were favored before the tournament and now they’ve been adjusted to the minus-150 ‘chalk’ (risk $150 to win $100).
Kansas, the region’s top seed, has +200 odds to make the Final Four (risk $100 to win $200). Michigan is at +300 and Florida Gulf Coast has 20/1 odds.
Let’s take an in-depth look at both of Friday’s matchups.
**Michigan vs. Kansas**
--Michigan (28-7 straight up, 16-16-1 against the spread) looked like the best team in the field last weekend, especially in Saturday’s 78-53 shellacking of a very good VCU team as a 3.5-point favorite. Mitch McGary was the catalyst with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Trey Burke scored 18 points and dished out seven assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III finished with 14 points apiece.
--In Thursday’s NCAA opener, John Beilein’s team took out South Dakota St. by a 71-56 count as an 11.5-point favorite. The 127 combined points fell ‘under’ the 140-point total. Hardaway and Robinson scored 21 points apiece. Hardaway drained 8-of-13 shots from the field and
--As of Thursday afternoon, most books were listing Kansas (31-5 SU, 20-15 ATS) as a two-point favorite with a total of 136.
--Kansas trailed at halftime in both of its wins last week. The Jayhawks overcame a 31-30 intermission deficit to Western Kentucky to eventually capture a 64-57 victory as 20.5-point favorites. Jeff Withey produced 17 points, six rebounds and seven blocked shots in the non-cover against the Hilltoppers.
--North Carolina raced out to a 12-2 lead and led Kansas by a 30-21 score at the half. But Bill Self’s team dominated the final 20 minutes, outscoring the Tar Heels 49-28 en route to a 70-58 win as a 6.5-point favorite. Travis Releford led the way with 22 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Withey finished with 16 points, 16 boards and five rejections.
--KU freshman guard Ben McLemore averages a team-high 15.8 points per game, but he missed all nine of his shots against UNC and scored only two points. Withey averages 13.8 PPG and leads the Jayhawks in rebounding (8.5 RPG), field-goal percentage (58.3%) and blocked shots (3.9 BPG).
--Michigan has been an underdog just three times, going 1-2 both SU and ATS. The Wolverines won outright at Minnesota (83-75) but lost heartbreakers at Indiana (81-73) and at Ohio St. (56-53).
--Kansas owns a 7-6 spread record in 13 games as a single-digit favorite.
--The ‘under’ has cashed in three consecutive KU games to improve to 17-14-1 overall.
--The ‘over’ is 19-14 overall for Michigan, but the ‘under’ connected in both of its games last weekend.
--KU has faced two teams that remain in the field, winning at Ohio St. and losing to Michigan St. on a neutral court. Meanwhile, Michigan has lost outright in four of its six games played versus teams that are still alive.
--Tip-off is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Eastern on TBS.
Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast**
--As of Thursday afternoon, most books had Florida (28-7 SU, 18-14 ATS) favored by 12 ½ or 13 with a total of 135. Gamblers can take the Eagles to win outright for a +650 return (risk $100 to win $650).
--Florida Gulf Coast (26-10 SU, 6-0 ATS) is the first No. 15 seed to ever get to the Sweet 16. Andy Enfield’s squad got there by thumping Georgetown (78-68) and San Diego St. (81-71) by double-digit margins. Bernard Thompson scored 23 points in both games, while Brett Comer averaged 11.0 points and 12.0 assists per game. Sherwood Brown scored a game-high 24 points against the Hoyas and finished with 17 points and eight boards against the Aztecs.
--FGCU’s Comer, a sophomore point guard, shared the backcourt with Austin Rivers as the duo led Winter Park High School to back-to-back state championships in 2010 and 2011.
--Since the field was expanded to 64 (then 65 and then 68) back in 1985, only seven teams seeded No. 13 or No. 14 advanced to the Sweet 16. All seven of those teams lost outright.
--Florida advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season with wins over Northwestern St. (79-47) and Minnesota (78-64) in Austin. Mike Rosario paced the Gators with 25 points against the Gophers, splashing the nets six times in nine attempts from 3-point range. Erik Murphy added 15 points.
--Murphy scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds against the Demons. Patric Young finished with 16 points and nine boards.
--UF has been a double-digit favorite 25 times this year, compiling a 15-10 spread record.
--Billy Donovan owns a 30-10 career record (75%) in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators have won five consecutive games in the Sweet 16 and Donovan’s only Sweet 16 defeat came against Gonzaga in 1999 at the West Region semifinal in Phoenix.
--The ‘under’ is on a 9-2 run for the Gators to improve to 17-12 overall.
--This game will tip 30 minutes after the conclusion of KU-Michigan.
Brian Edwards can be reached at email@example.com.
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