Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Saturday - Session 3

East Region (Des Moines, IA)
No. 10 Minnesota vs. No. 2 Michigan State (CBS, 8:00 PM EST)

Opening Odds: Michigan State -10, 142

-- Michigan State (29-6 straight up, 24-11 against the spread) opened the tournament with a rather slugging 76-65 victory against Bradley, failing to cover the 17 1/2-point spread. Now they'll face a familiar foe from their own conference. This will be the first NCAA Tournament meeting between two Big Ten clubs since Sparty and Wisconsin did battle in the 2000 Final Four.

-- The Spartans hosted the Gophers on Feb. 9 at Breslin Center, easily covering a 13 1/2-point number while the 'under' (142) connected. In that game, Nick Ward led the way with 22 points and nine rebounds, hitting nine of his 14 field-goal attempts. Matt McQuaid was a solid 6-for-9 from the field, ending up with 18 points and eight assists, while hitting four triples. Cassius Winston also chipped in with 11 points and nine assists and a 3-pointer of his own, and the Spartans won going away after hitting 31-of-60 (51.7 percent ) from the field versus 18-of-49 (36.7 percent) from the floor.

-- Michigan State ranked 41st with 78.7 points per game (PPG) this season, while hitting 48.4 percent from the field to check in 19th in the nation. They were also outstanding from behind the arc, hitting 38.1 percent, while managing a 75.8 percent mark from the free-throw line.

-- Defensively, the Spartans lock it down, allowing just 65.5 PPG to rank 37th in the country, while holding opponents to a 37.9 percent mark from the field to check in third overall. Rebounding differential was huge for Michigan State, too. They outrebounded teams by nearly 12 boards per game this season. They outrebounded Minnesota 37-29 in the first meeting, including 10 on the offensive end.

-- Michigan State has managed to cover four in a row after an ATS loss, although they're 0-4 ATS in their past four NCAA Tournament games. They are 20-6 ATS in the past 26 against winning teams, and 4-1 ATS in the past five games against conference foes, too.

-- For the Spartans, the under has cashed in 13 of the past 19 against conference foes, while going 4-0 in the past four against teams with a winning overall record. However, the 'over' has connected in seven of their past eight NCAA Tournament battles.

-- In this series against Minnesota the favorite has cashed in four straight, with Michigan State 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The 'under' is also 20-7 in the past 27 meetings in this series, including back on Feb. 9.

-- The Spartans have enjoyed quite a bit of success in the Round of 32 under Tom Izzo, going 13-3 over the past 16 in the second round dating back to 1998.

-- Minnesota (22-13 SU, 18-17 ATS) picked an 86-76 upset win over Louisville from the ACC in Round 1, winning as a five-point underdog as the 'over' (137.5) came through.

-- The key to Minnesota's success in the opening round was their outstanding scoring balance. Five players were in double figures, led by Gabe Kalscheur with 24 points and eight rebounds. Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy each contributed 18 points and six rebounds apiece, while Dupree McBrayer and Daniel Oturu each ended the day with 13 points. The Gophers ended up hitting 29-of-58 (50.0 percent) from the field while staying even with Louisville 32-32 in the rebounds category. They'll need that kind of balance and shooting if they hope to knock off their conference rivals.

-- Minnesota struggled on offense this season, ranking 216th in the nation with just 71.2 PPG, while hitting 43.9 percent from the field and just 32.5 percent from behind the arc. They're also a dismal free-throw shooting side, ranking 279th in the countrywith just a 67.9 percent mark.

-- The Gophers enter the game with a +5.7 rebound margin, and they held opponents to 69.4 PPG to check in a mediocre 124th in the nation.

-- The Golden Gophers have managed a 4-1 ATS mark over the past five neutral-site battles, while cashing in five of the past seven overall. However, they're just 7-17 ATS in the past 24 following a cover, and 2-5 ATS in their past seven NCAA Tournament battles despite their win and cover vs. Louisville.

-- The 'over' has cashed in four straight NCAA Tournament games for the Gophers, although the under is 9-4 in the past 13 against conference opponents. The under is also 21-7 in the past 28 games against teams with a winning overall mark.

South Region (Hartford, CT)
No. 6 Villanova vs. No. 3 Purdue (TNT, 9:00 PM EST)

Opening Odds: Purdue -3½, 137

-- The defending national champions from Villanova (26-9 SU, 21-14 ATS) kicked off their title defense with a gritty 61-57 win against St. Mary's (Calif.) in Round 1 as the 'under' (127) connected.

-- The Wildcats saw Phil Booth go for 20 points, six rebounds and two steals with just two turnovers in the first game, hitting 7-for-13 from the field. Eric Paschall stepped up with 14 points, six rebounds and a pair of 3-pointers, while Jermaine Samuels contributed with 12 points and seven rebounds while also added a pair of triples. 'Nova ended up 8-for-20 from the perimeter, while shooting just 55.6 percent from the charity stripe.

-- These teams last met on Nov. 14, 2016 when the Wildcats came away with a 79-76 victory.

-- Villanova has posted an impressive 11-2 ATS mark in their past 13 battles against Big Ten teams, and they're 14-3 ATS in the past 17 NCAA Tournament games, including Thursday's victory. They have also covered 39 of their past 54 non-conference tilts, and 37 of the previous 55 on a neutral court.

-- The 'over has connected in four of the past five overall, but the 'under' is 12-3-1 in their past 16 non-conference battles and seven of the past 10 on a neutral-site court.

-- Purdue (24-9 SU, 18-14 ATS) narrowly earned a cover at most shops with a 61-48 win against Old Dominion in the first round.

-- The Boilermakers struggled at the offensive end against ODU, hitting just 20-of-53 (37.7 percent) from the field, and they were just 9-of-30 (30.0 percent) from behind the three-point line. That includes an utterly brutal shooting night from Ryan Cline who ended up 2-for-12 from the field, including 1-for-11 from behind the arc. He finished with five points, seven rebounds and four assists with only one turnover. Matt Haarms picked up some of the slack with 13 points, four boards and a 5-for-6 shooting night while also swatting two shots. As per usual it was the Carsen Edwards show, as he posted a game-high 26 points while hitting four triples. He also added seven rebounds, four assists and two steal, and he is someone 'Nova will need to track early and often.

-- The Boilers are 39-19 ATS across their past 58 games outside of the conference, but they're just 2-7 ATS in the past nine games against Big East foes. Purdue is also 2-5 ATS in the past seven games against winning teams while going just 1-4 ATS in the past five after a cover in their previous outing.

-- The over has hit in seven of Purdue's past nine NCAA Tournament battles while hitting in six of their past eight against Big East teams. The over is also 38-17-1 in the past 56 neutral-site battles for the Boilermakers.

Midwest Region (Salt Lake City, UT)
No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 4 Kansas (TBS, 9:45 PM EST)

Opening Odds: Auburn -2, 147½

-- Auburn (27-9 SU, 18-16 ATS) tried their damnedest to blow the game to New Mexico State in the opening round, but the Aggies wouldn't accept the invitation to the second round. Auburn held on for a strange 78-77 win in a game no one seemed to be able to finish.

-- The Tigers had four players in double digits on Thursday, including 17 from Jared Harper. He was 6-for-11 from the field, and 4-for-8 from behind the three-point line, while also contributing four assists before fouling out in 31 minutes. J'Von McCormick stepped up off the bench, dumping in 16 points while making his only triple and hitting all three of his free-throw attempts. That was a rarity, as the Tigers were a dismal 14-for-21 (66.7 percent) from the charity stripe.

-- The Tigers have still managed a 5-2 ATS mark across the past seven despite a non-cover in the first round. Auburn has managed a 1-6 ATS mark across their past seven non-conference games, but they're 4-1 ATS in the past five against Big 12 foes.

-- Kansas (26-9 SU, 17-18 ATS) had a trying regular season, not sitting atop the Big 12 perch like we've been used to seeing. However, they certainly looked like a perennial contender in their dismantling of Northeastern in Round 1, winning 87-53 to easily cover a seven-point number as the 'under' (142.5) connected by a whisker.

-- The Jayhawks shot 55.7 percent in the opening round, hitting 34 of their 61 attempts from the field. They also ended up 8-of-22 from behind the three-point line and they were a very tidy 11-of-12 from the free-throw stripe. Dedric Lawson led the way with 25 points and 11 rebounds against the undersized Huskies, while Devon Dotson chipped in with 18 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals over 30 minutes. Ochai Agbaji and K.J. Lawson were each able to contribute 13 points, too.

-- The Jayhawks have posted a 4-1 ATS mark in the past five games overall, and they're 6-2 ATS in the past eight neutral-site battles. However, they are 5-11 ATS in the past 16 following a straight-up win, and they're 0-4 ATS in their past four games following a victory by 20 or more points.

-- The 'over' has been a common theme for the Jayhawks lately, hitting in four of the past five NCAA Tournament games. The over is also 12-5-1 in the past 18 non-conference battles, while going 7-2 in the past nine against teams with a winning percentage over .600 and 10 of the past 14 games overall. 

-- This is the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the hardwood.

Follow Joe Williams on Twitter at @JoeWilliamsVI.


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