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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:59 PM

Sunday - Session 2

East Region (Columbia, SC)
No. 9 UCF vs. No. 1 Duke (CBS, 5:15 PM EST)

Opening Odds: Duke -13, 143 ½

Three top seeds take the court on Sunday, highlighted by the Blue Devils (30-5 SU, 18-16-1 ATS), who have won all four games since freshman star Zion Williamson returned to the lineup. Duke lost three games down the stretch without Williamson, including two defeats to rival North Carolina, but the Blue Devils have won three times by double-digits, capped off by Friday’s 85-62 blowout of 16th-seed North Dakota State.

Duke failed to cash as 27-point favorites, as the Blue Devils led the Bison at halftime, 31-27. The Blue Devils blew it open in the second half by outscoring the Summit League champions, 54-35, while Williamson paced Duke with 25 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the floor. R.J. Barrett led the Blue Devils with 26 points as Duke won by at least 20 points in the opening round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.

UCF (24-8 SU, 19-12-1 ATS) put together a poor showing in the AAC tournament by losing 77-59 to Memphis, but the Knights bounced back nicely in Friday’s 73-58 blowout of VCU. Not only did the Knights to pick up their first ever NCAA tournament win, but they built a 10-point halftime lead over the Atlantic 10 regular season champions, while limiting VCU to 31% shooting from the floor.

Duke reached the Elite Eight last season, but was bounced by South Carolina in the second round two seasons ago. The Blue Devils are currently on a 14-4 UNDER run, but have covered only three times in the 12 games. UCF is riding a 9-2 ATS hot stretch, which includes victories over Cincinnati and Houston. The Knights have covered in three of their last four opportunities in the underdog role, as UCF hooks up with Duke for the first time ever.

West Region (Tulsa, OK)
No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (TNT, 6:10 PM EST)

Opening Odds: Texas Tech -4, 146

One of the more intriguing matchups in the round of 32 involves a pair of teams that combined for 59 wins this season. Buffalo (32-3 SU, 19-14-1 ATS) made quick work of Arizona State in Friday’s first round blowout, 91-74 as five-point favorites, marking the second straight season that the Bulls have eliminated a Pac-12 team in the Big Dance. The Bulls extended their winning streak to 13 games, while grabbing their third cover in four contests since an 0-4 ATS skid to end the regular season.

Texas Tech (27-6 SU, 16-16-1 ATS) was one-and-done in the Big 12 tournament after getting stunned by last-place West Virginia as 13-point favorites, 79-74 last week. The Red Raiders rebounded with a 72-57 triumph over Horizon League champion Northern Kentucky to barely cash as 13-point favorites on Friday. Jarrett Culver led the Red Raiders with 29 points, while Tech shot 52% from the field to pick up their ninth cover in the past 12 games.

The Red Raiders reached the Sweet 16 last season before getting knocked out by eventual champion Villanova, while Buffalo was drubbed by Kentucky, 95-75 in the second round in 2018. The Bulls weren’t listed as an underdog during Mid-American Conference play, while beating Syracuse and West Virginia as a ‘dog in non-conference play.

Texas Tech has covered eight consecutive games as a single-digit favorite dating back to January 28, while compiling a 9-2 ATS mark the last 11 contests since getting blown out at Kansas in early February. The last MAC team to reach the Sweet 16 was Ohio in 2012, who beat Michigan and USF before losing to North Carolina in overtime.

East Region (San Jose, CA)
No. 12 Liberty vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech (TBS, 7:10 PM EST)

Opening Odds: Virginia Tech -8 ½, 124 ½

With all the focus on Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia, the one ACC team that refuses to be overlooked is Virginia Tech. The Hokies (25-8 SU, 17-14-1 ATS) held off Saint Louis in Friday’s first round, 66-52 as 10-point favorites. Virginia Tech jumped out to a commanding 40-18 halftime lead before the Billikens made it interesting in the second half. Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the Hokies with 20 points as Virginia Tech snapped an 0-3 ATS skid as a double-digit favorite.

Liberty (29-6 SU, 18-14 ATS) erased a 10-point second half deficit to stun Mississippi State on Friday, 80-76 as seven-point underdogs. It was the second consecutive game that the Flames needed to win to keep their season alive after downing Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun championship as a six-point underdog. Caleb Homesley led the Flames with 30 points against the Bulldogs, while Liberty drained 12 three-pointers to record their sixth victory this season in the underdog role.

The Hokies have taken care of their business as a substantial favorite of late by cashing in four of the last six opportunities as seven-point chalk or higher. Virginia Tech advanced past the first round under Buzz Williams for the first time since he became head coach after losing to Wisconsin in 2017 and Alabama in 2018.

Liberty finally broke through for an NCAA tournament win for the first time in school history after losing in their first three appearances. The Flames last faced the Hokies in 2014 as Virginia Tech escaped with a 73-63 victory in Blacksburg.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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