No. 14 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs. No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-1.5, 140.5)
Game to be played at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Notre Dame spent a good part of the season taking care of the basketball than any other team in the country but have struggled lately while no other program did a better job of taking it away than Stephen F. Austin. The sixth-seeded Fighting Irish will attempt to curb their recent careless ways Sunday when they meet the 14th-seeded Lumberjacks in the NCAA Tournament second round of the East Region in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Tied for ninth in the country in fewest turnovers per game entering second-round play Saturday, Notre Dame overcame 16 turnovers and a 12-point halftime deficit in Friday’s first-round 70-63 victory over Michigan. ”This is (three) out of three games where we’ve had (16, 17, 18) turnovers,” Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey told reporters. ”I asked them: ‘Can we shave it down to maybe 10 on Sunday and not throw it all over the place?”’ Stephen F. Austin, which leads the nation with 18.7 forced turnovers, extended the longest winning streak in Division I to 21 games Friday, generating 29 points off 22 turnovers en route to a 70-56 victory over West Virginia. “This is probably the most talented team I’ve ever played on. We have tremendous abilities and are very explosive at times. And on the other side of the ball, we sit down and guard the heck out of people,” Lumberjacks forward Thomas Walkup said after his sixth 30-point game of the season.
TV: 2:40 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: Despite being the East’s 14-seed Stephen F. Austin opened as just 2-point pups and bettors have liked them enough to move the number to +1, but it has settled back at +1.5. The total has yet to move off the opening number of 140.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (22-11, 15-15-1 ATS, 15-16 O/U): The Lumberjacks played most of Friday’s win with no player taller than 6-5 forward Clide Geffrard, Jr., which could open the door for Notre Dame 6-10 center Zach Auguste (14.2 points, 10.8 rebounds) to have a huge game after posting his ninth double-double in 13 outings with 10 points and 12 boards versus Michigan. V.J. Beachem (11.5 points) went 7-for-7 from the field – including four 3-pointers – in Friday’s comeback victory and is 18-for-26 from the floor (11-of-17 beyond the arc) during Notre Dame’s three-game postseason run. Demetrius Jackson (team-high 15.4 points) has failed to meet his scoring average in eight straight contests, shooting 40 percent or below in six of those outings.
ABOUT STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (28-5, 3-2 ATS, 3-2 O/U): The 6-4 Walkup, who leads the Lumberjacks in scoring (18 points), rebounds (6.9), assists (4.5) and steals (2.2), went 19-of-20 from the foul line Friday and nearly increased all of his averages with 33 points, nine boards, four assists and four steals against the Mountaineers. The two-time Southland Player of the Year outscored the West Virginia starters (28) by himself and moved within 12 points of breaking Josh Alexander’s school record of 1,734 career points. Geffrard (13.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals) has stepped up his play during the Lumberjacks’ three-game postseason run, averaging 15.7 points, 8.3 boards and three steals per game.
* Stephen F. Austin is 4-1 ATS in its last five neutral site games.
* Notre Dame is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 4-1 in Stephen F. Austin’s last five non-conference games.
* Under is 13-2-1 in Notre Dame’s last 16 NCAA Tournament games.
No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 2 Xavier Musketeers (-4.5, 136)
Game to be played at Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO
It will be a contrast of styles and pace when second-seeded Xavier meets seventh-seeded Wisconsin on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s East Region in St. Louis. The Musketeers average 81 points and 72.6 possessions per contest – tops among the remaining tournament teams – while the Badgers are scoring 68.2 points in 63.9 possessions, which ranks ahead of only Northern Iowa (63) and Virginia (61.2) among the field.
In gearing up for Wisconsin’s deliberate style of play, Xavier coach Chris Mack said his team’s 71-53 first-round win over Weber State on Friday provided some good prep work. “I thought tonight Weber State gave us a feel for that,” Mack said in his postgame news conference. “The only time they really ran were on our turnovers or long rebounds. Just the mere fact we played a team similar in terms of style in round one hopefully helps us for the next game.” The Badgers, meanwhile, simply are trying to maintain the pace under first-year coach Greg Gard that led them to the Final Four in each of the last two seasons, and the first step was a less-than-picturesque but nevertheless effective 47-43 first-round victory over Pittsburgh on Friday. “It was an ugly performance, but to pull that out says a lot about us,” Wisconsin guard Zak Showalter told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s the kind of team we want to be. We might not look the best, but we find a way to get it done.”
TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: Xavier opened as 4.5-point favorites, where briefly bet down to -4 and then back up to the opening number. The total has not moved off the opening number of 136. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (21-12, 17-16 ATS, 14-19 O/U): The Badgers easily finished with the lowest-prevailing point total (47) among the 32 first-round winners and shot only 32.1 percent from the field, including 4-of-19 from 3-point range. Ethan Happ accounted for nearly one-third (15) of Wisconsin’s points in the contest on 6-of-8 shooting and averages 12.2 points per game, but the team’s other two double-digit scorers – Nigel Hayes (16.2) and Bronson Koenig (13.1) – combined for only 14 points on 4-of-25 shooting. The Badgers’ opponents are averaging only 63.9 points, with Pittsburgh’s 43 marking the fewest allowed by the team this season.
ABOUT XAVIER (28-5, 20-13 ATS, 21-12 O/U): The Musketeers are aiming for their second straight Sweet 16 appearance and sixth in nine years with the highest NCAA tournament seed in team history. It was a promising start Friday as Xavier shot 48.4 percent and enjoyed a 43-27 rebound advantage behind senior James Farr’s sixth double-double (18 points, game-high 15 rebounds) of the season. Trevon Bluiett is averaging a team-high 15.3 points and is joined in double digits by Farr (11), Edmond Sumner (11) and Myles Davis (10.9), while Farr (eight) and Jalen Reynolds (6.4) are the squad’s leading rebounders.
* Wisconsin is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games versus a team with a winning SU record.
* Xavier is 8-1 ATS in its last nine neutral site games.
* Under is 9-1 in Wisconsin’s last 10 games overall.
* Over is 7-1 in Xavier’s last eight games overall.