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Home / Articles / Mike Handzelek's Sweet 16 Analysis/Review

Mike Handzelek's Sweet 16 Analysis/Review

By: Point Shaver Handzelek
Date: Mar 24, 2023
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Thursday, March 23, 2023 Michigan State vs. Kansas State (NCAAB) - 7:20 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: 1.5/-110 Kansas State Rating: 9* Mike's Sweet 16 Earlybird Play (WIN) This play is an individual one & 1st Leg/Parlay that pits former Baylor assistant/HC Jerome Tang's 25-9 Wildcats versus HC Tom Izzo (28th season) & his upstart 21-12 Spartans (the only Big 10 team remaining) @ historic Madison Square Garden. Yes, MSU appears solid on defense after the 1st 2 rounds. This is a step-up in competition here for a Michigan State squad NOT ranked in the Top 25 in either the Ken Pom, NCAA Net, RPI or Sagarin rankings. In fact, they played 14 games against Quad 1 opponents & went just 5-9 SU (KSU 9-8 in that same category). The #7 seed in the Sweet 16 Round (MSU) has gone 1-5 ATS the past 7 years. What has to be taken in also is the Spartans' very low scoring margin of + 2.8 entering the tournament (KSU's @ + 6.5). This come into play when you see where we'll be playing this game. There's a few Wildcats who'll be playing with fire including the storied 6'6" F Keyontae Johnson who collapsed on the court (diagnosed with myocarditis & was placed in a medically-induced coma for 3 days) while playing for Florida in 2020. KSU's 3rd team All-American & 1st-Team All-Big 12 PG Marquis Nowell returns to Manhattan neighborhood where he grew up in the Harlem section. This team is for real after dismantling Kentucky 75-69 for their 3rd sweet 16 appearance since the 1980's. My bottom line here has to look at the way Michigan State is struggling from 3-point land. If anyone knows MSG, that's quite a difficult venue to consistently hit from beyond the arc. This MSU team is NOT your usual vintage Tom Izzo squad making a deep March Madness run. Yes, Tyson Walker can carry this team offensively with some support from Joey Hauser & A.J. Hoggard. However, these teams are very evenly matched & playing @ a venue that's nail-biter heaven in CBB. Numbers show Kansas State is 5-1 ATS versus +.600 winning teams while also going a solid 5-1 SU @ Neutral sites. On the flip side, Michigan State is just a combined 9-10 SU in true away & neutral sites games. Let's ride into a different Manhattan (for KSU) & play 9 Stars on the KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (buying to a strategic + 7 1/2) as my Sweet 16 Earlybird Play! Gonzaga vs. UCLA (NCAAB) - 9:45 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: +1.5/-110 Gonzaga Rating: 9* Mike's Elite 8 Ticket-Puncher Play (WIN) I feel the electrifying game of the night could very much be the last as Mick Cronin's 31-5 UCLA Bruins take on Mark Few's 30-5 Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Bruins just don't come in healthy versus a squad that beat them badly 83-63 in Las Vegas last season (both teams ranked #1 & #2 @ that time). They lost defensive standout Jaylen Clark (Achilles) for the season while it is unclear how much action G David Singleton will get after injuring his ankle in the final minute of their hard-fought 68-63 win over Northwestern. The Zags' have had success versus the Bruins in the past going 5-2 SU all-time. Cronin does have a talented team with an excellent duo as F Jaime Jacquez Jr (17.6 PPG) & PG Tyger Campbell (16.2 PPG) have played stellar in the tournament. Jacquez (1,773 career points) just moved ahead of Bill Walton for 12th on the all-time UCLA scoring list. My bottom line looks deeper into a well-balanced Bulldogs' team who come in with a BIG head of steam winners of 11 straight. Naismith Trophy finalist Drew Timme by-passed the NBA because he is on a mission. With his 28 points in their 84-81 win over TCU, he tied a record & became just the 7th player in NCAA Tournament history with 9 20-point outings. He's in an elite group there with Bill Bradley (Princeton), Danny Manning (Kansas), Elvin Hayes (Houston), Glen Rice (Michigan), Corliss Williamson (Arkansas) & Richard Hamilton (Connecticut). The catalyst & X-Factor for this game will be the consistency from Zags' G Julian Strawther whose pumped in 18.4 PPG over the last 10 games. With his consistency & Anton Watson's team-best 66 steals, I feel we have MORE than something brewing on the West Coast Conference entry side. Numbers show the Bulldogs are an excellent 4-0 ATS Thursdays & are a solid 5-1 versus the number following an ATS loss. With this one having "classic" written all over it, we'll gladly go T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to play the GONZAGA BULLDOGS (buying to a strategic + 8 1/2) as my 9 Star Elite 8 Ticket-Puncher Play while also playing it as my 2nd Leg/Parlay! Friday, March 24, 2023 San Diego State vs. Alabama (NCAAB) - 6:30 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: -7.5/-105 Alabama Rating: 10* Mike's First 10 Star of the Post-Season (LOSS) Yes, former Steve Fisher assistant & now HC Brian Dutcher (6th season) & his 29-6 Aztecs bring in an elite defense (5th-ranked, KP) into the Sweet 16 against the No. 1 seed Alabama Crimson Tide (31-5) under Nate Oats (4th season). The Tide rank # 3 in defensive efficiency & is #5 in tempo in the nation (KP) compared to SD State's deliberate tempo @ the other end coming in @ 263rd. Bama's collective athleticism has shown throughout the tourney as they also come in 2nd in defensing the 3-pointer. I feel the best player on the floor is Bama's Brandon Miller (20.2 PPG over his last 10 that includes none in 19 minutes in a game where he was in & out versus Texas A&M-Corpus Christi). He had it on simmer when the tourney started & turned it up a bit with 19 versus Maryland. Look for him to do what's necessary here to have his team punch their ticket to the Elite 8. This team is FRESH to say the least having played in their backyard in Birmingham for the first 2. They can control the boards as witnessed being the BEST in Rebound Margin. What's alarming on the San Diego State is they're playing an up-tempo team but are the 2nd-worst Offensive Field Goal Percentage team of all Sweet 16 entries. Football's on the big backburner in Tuscaloosa as the Tide (winners of 9 out of their last 10) will be looking for revenge from losing 88-78 in this round to UCLA in the Sweet 16 just 2 seasons ago. On the flip side, the Aztecs' Dutcher (here as a coach since 99') has 4 starters back & runs about 9 players in a rotation system. They'll be hard-pressed to beat Alabama PG Jahvon Quinerly (13.6 PPG in playoffs) in transition & dishes to Miller in crunch time. Numbers have san Diego State is a perfect 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a SU win by more than 20 points. Alabama is a nifty 20-8 versus the number on Fridays as well as a very strong 16-5 SU in true away & neutral site games combined. Also note that Mountain West Conference teams who've lost outright in the tourney over the last 35 have gone a no-show 3-31-1 ATS. The value just isn't there so we're off to the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, KY for the Sweet 16 Round-South Regional to play my First 10 Star of the Post-Season on the ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE on the ML individually & as the 3rd Leg/Parlay with Thursdays plays! Mike Handzelek's 2022-23 CBB Overall Record: 38-5 for a surreal 88%

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