Jim O'Donnell: 8 winners no waiting! Navigating the men's Sweet 16

  • Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrates with Wendell Moore Jr. after Sunday's win against Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Greenville, S.C.

    Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrates with Wendell Moore Jr. after Sunday's win against Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Greenville, S.C. Associated Press

 
Updated 3/23/2022 5:47 PM

TAKE A NEW TRANSFER PORTAL CULTURE, add in some odd officiating and boom, zappo:

Presenting the improbable Sweet 16 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

 

Five of the top 12 seeds gone, four double-digit seeds remaining and enough complexities generated to fuel an army of James Patterson staff writers.

The action intensifies Thursday night on CBS and TBS as four more teams will flop off the accelerating carousel and four others will keep movin' on up.

FOR PURPOSES OF AMUSEMENT ONLY, in stride with a burgeoning army of tout-site doofuses, potent predictables on all eight games.

Scratch sheet! Tip card!

Chase fever disclaimer: If selections are acted upon and prove to be incorrect, for Saturday's opening games of the Elite Eight, please call Madame Ruth.

You know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth.

Thursday

Gonzaga (-9½) vs. Arkansas (CBS, 6 p.m.) -- Very simple, since empirical data from 2016 forward indicates that the 'Zags will not be in The Final Four. … Bet against 'em here and if no cash, triple up on Duke Saturday. The pick: Arkansas +9½

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Villanova (-5) vs. Michigan (TBS, 6:15 p.m.) -- Jay Wright is what Tom Izzo always wanted to be. … When Wright has the ponies, he knows how and when to crescendo. The pick: Villanova to win and cover.

Texas Tech (-1) vs. Duke (CBS, after Game 1) -- Great evidence of sharp money. … Forget about bracket-busting -- a T-Tech win will trash a whole lot of pierogi-laced TV features on Saint Mike Krzyzewski waiting to be aired. The pick: Contrarian -- Duke to win outright, whatever it takes.

Arizona (-1½) vs. Houston (TBS, after Game 2) -- The NCAA allowing a Kelvin Sampson team to win its One Falsely Antiseptic Moment would be like hearing the ghost of Bernie Madoff is returning to chair the Federal Reserve. The pick: Arizona, again, whatever it takes.

Friday

Purdue (-12½) vs. St. Peter's (CBS, 6 p.m.) -- No team with Jaden Ivey should ever lose a college basketball game. … Matt Painter has to stay out of the way. The pick: Purdue to win, but "pasadena" on any action.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kansas (-7½) vs. Providence (TBS, 6:15 p.m.) -- Great nugget from Dave Corzine, who called both Providence-DePaul games on "The Score" this winter: "The Friars scored only five more baskets than their opponents all season long and are 27-5." … All Ed Cooley and his old fellows know how to do is close games. The pick: Providence to cash, flip a coin on who advances.

UCLA (-2½) vs. North Carolina (CBS, after Game 1) -- So many good things happen when Li'l Tyger Campbell has the basketball. … But NC is playing with the Air-Worthy GPS of legacy and house money. … Plus, Leaky Black may get a NIL deal with the printer ink division of Hewlett-Packard after the Tarheels win. The pick: North Carolina

Miami (Fla.) (-2½) vs. Iowa State (TBS, after Game 2) -- Former DePaul flameout Charlie Moore may eventually become the NCAA's first seven-college, 10-season man. … As fans of the Blue Demons know all too well, he goes South under pressure and that's exactly what T.J. Otzelberger and the Cyclones will apply in withering doses. The pick: Iowa State

STREET-BEATIN': Dandy simmering tension on the CBS/Turner set last weekend between moonlighting West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and seasonal analyst Seth Davis. The inanimate "Huggy Bear" looked like he'd rather be back eyeballing the Salisbury steak end of the buffet line at the Morgantown VFW. …

Young Max Christie (Rolling Meadows High, Class of '21) and Michigan State were involved in both the top TV audience draws from the Rounds of 64 and 32. Just under 5 million watched the Spartans beat Davidson and then 11.2 million tuned in for their loss to Duke. …

Al Michaels will work play-by-play alongside Kirk Herbstreit on Amazon Prime's inaugural season of "Thursday Night Football." If Jeff Bezos wants to do NFL viewers a favor, he may opt instead to put the yakky Herbstreit on an extended private space flight -- with no radio contact back to Earth. …

Boul Mich archivist Rick Kogan completes a week of a.m. drive fill-in for Bob Sirott on WGN-AM (720) Thursday and Friday. (Sirott was kind enough to leave sports ace Dave Eanet and man-about-everything Dean Richards working on the chain gang.) …

A memorial service for sports journalist Craig Lynch is Saturday morning at Bethel Community Church, 7601 W. Foster, Chicago. Lynch -- who was blind -- was from the same indomitable stock as the late Don Vogel, also blind and a talent so great that ABC regularly enlisted his audio mimicry of Howard Cosell at national affiliates meetings. …

Terry McDonald of the Rob Roy golf McDonalds reports the company holding domain rites to "ArlingtonHeightsBears.com" is asking $995K for the address. "UpstreamingBears.com" might be a cheaper alternative. …

And Brian Hellinger, on NCAA teams keeping it in the faith this weekend: "Why doesn't St. Peter's just sign Loyola's Sister Jean to a 10-day contract?"

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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