Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM

Sunday's Elite 8 Tip Sheet

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Game played at TD Garden from Boston, Massachusetts

East Regional - No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (CBS, 2:20 p.m. ET)
Opening Odds: Wildcats -6 ½, Total 144 ½

Tournament favorite Villanova had a very tough battle with West Virginia Friday night as the Mountaineers led early in the second half but a six-point deficit turned into a seven-point lead in a span of about four minutes to completely flip the game around. The Wildcats overcame rebounding and turnover disadvantages to win by 12 with great shooting numbers hitting 23 of 27 free throws for a big edge at the line and hitting 54 percent from 3-point range, an outrageous mark even by Villanova standards.

Villanova was the only Big East team to advance out of the opening weekend of the tournament and Gonzaga was the only Sweet 16 team that the Wildcats beat in the regular season as some scrutiny can be placed on the schedule of the Wildcats. If they can outlast another Big XII team Sunday they will be back in the Final Four for the second time in three years following the 2016 Tournament championship.

This line might be slightly inflated with a higher price than Villanova faced than versus West Virginia with Texas Tech finishing ahead of the Mountaineers in the Big XII standings. The Red Raiders haven’t posted dominant scoring numbers like Villanova and they are in the Elite 8 for the first time in program history led by a defense that ranks third nationally in defensive efficiency.

Texas Tech trailed early in the first two tournament games but after a slow start Friday night the Red Raiders pulled away from Purdue led by a great defensive showing. Unlike West Virginia, Texas Tech has strong numbers defending the 3-point shot which will be critical in this matchup. In the win over Purdue the Boilermakers made just seven 3-point shots and Texas Tech only sent Purdue to the line six times while forcing 17 turnovers against a team that like Villanova possessed a very low turnover rate.

Villanova had 16 turnovers against West Virginia, an incongruent number with the season rate for the Wildcats who have one of the lowest turnover rates in the nation. Texas Tech has good length and athleticism at every spot on the court to fit Chris Beard’s defensive scheme and the Red Raiders will need to play great defense to stay in this game as they won’t win a shooting contest with Villanova.

Texas Tech has benefitted from playing the first two tournament games in Texas in a favorable venue while drawing Purdue without Isaac Haas who was injured in the Round of 64 as the path has featured some good fortune and Texas Tech still trailed at halftime against Stephen F. Austin and Florida. The non-conference schedule for Texas Tech doesn’t grade well overall but the Red Raiders won five times against Sweet 16 teams this season with the Big XII living up to its billing with strong tournament results.

Villanova will likely continue to get heavy support even with the elevated line as the Wildcats are 25-12 ATS on the season while scoring 80 or more points in every tournament game. In the past 11 games vs. top 80 caliber competition however Villanova has three losses and two overtime wins as a lot of the dominance in the statistics was produced early in the season with a 22-1 start.

Battling some late season injuries Texas Tech entered the NCAA Tournament losing five of the final seven games as this tournament run wasn’t expected but it is worth noting that three of those losses came by three or fewer points as this isn’t going to be an easy team to pull away from. Texas Tech has the defensive profile to give Villanova problems but the nation’s top offense has certainly proven capable of shooting its way out of trouble in any matchup.

Game played at CenturyLink Center from Omaha, Nebraska

Midwest Regional - No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Duke (CBS, 5:05 p.m. ET)
Opening Odds: Blue Devils -3 ½, Total 155 ½

In a tournament filled with upsets the Midwest Region has the top two seeds remaining for a heavyweight clash of blue blood programs Sunday to decide the final team into the Final Four. Duke and Kansas have played three times in the last decade in November but haven’t met in the tournament since 2003 with Kansas winning 69-65 in the Sweet 16 in the final season for Roy Williams with the Jayhawks.

Kansas hasn’t looked like an elite national contender this season, stunningly losing three times in Lawrence in what has generally been one of the toughest home courts in the nation. The Jayhawks were only 8-4 in Big XII play in November but they again rallied to win the Big XII title, also delivering the tournament title despite playing some of those games without Udoka Azubuike.

The Jayhawks had a bit of a battle in the 1/16 matchup with Penn trailing early and only slipping past the favorite spread in the final minute of the game. Kansas has four-point wins in the past two contests ironically losing ATS on backdoor covers including a comeback effort from Clemson Friday after Kansas led by 20 in the second half.

The season resume didn’t feature a great deal of notable wins on the non-conference schedule other than beating Kentucky but the Big XII has proven itself with four Sweet 16 teams and three Elite 8 squads, looking like the strongest conference in the nation overall. This year’s team actually has the weakest defensive efficiency ranking in 15 seasons under Bill Self but this is a great offensive team that has shot nearly 41 percent from 3-point range while featuring a very low turnover rate.

Duke turned in big early season wins over Michigan State and Florida but after starting 11-0 the Blue Devils had several surprising losses, falling to Boston College, NC State, and St. John’s. Duke still went 13-5 in ACC play but they drew one of the lighter schedules in the conference and they only won once in the ACC Tournament.

Handed a tough bracket draw with unusual travel for the program plus the expected Sweet 16 matchup with Michigan State the Blue Devils didn’t feel like a great threat to make it to San Antonio. Duke posted 176 points in the first two tournament wins however and they held off Syracuse in an expected grind on Friday night. Facing a #11 seed that likely didn’t even deserve to be in the tournament field in the Sweet 16 has meant a favorable path for Duke as this will certainly be the biggest test for a young Blue Devils squad.

Duke has improved its defense down the stretch with more zone than usual and now holding foes to just 62 points per game over the last 12 contests. Duke has unparalleled size of the remaining teams but lacks the depth and experience of the other contenders, issues that sometimes come into play in the NCAA Tournament setting depending how games get called.

Offensive rebounding is a great area of strength for Duke and they will need those second chance opportunities as Kansas has the stronger shooting profile in this matchup. Duke does have a great 3-point defense holding foes to just over 31 percent shooting from beyond the arc as Kansas will have a hard time maintaining the over 43 percent clip they have hit 3-point shots at so far in the tournament.

A popular Duke team is surprisingly 22-12 ATS this season and only one of 29 Duke wins this season came by fewer than points than the four-point margin Friday night against Syracuse. All seven Kansas losses this season came by five or more points while six of seven Duke losses came by five or fewer points.

Neither team shoots free throws particularly well as there could be some pressure-packed moments down the stretch in this contest in what could be a classic game between two storied programs and high profile coaches. The winner will be expected to draw Villanova in a heavyweight national semifinal that would be fit for a championship game.

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