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NCAA tournament South Regional: Semifinal betting previews

Michigan Wolverines vs. Kansas Jayhawks (-2, 136)

Michigan makes its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 since 1994, taking on top-seeded Kansas on Friday in Arlington, Tex. The Jayhawks are no stranger to the second week, reaching the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in 10 seasons under coach Bill Self. The fourth-seeded Wolverines beat No. 13-seed South Dakota State (71-56) in the second round and fifth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth (78-53) in the third. The Jayhawks have had a more difficult time advancing. They beat 16th-seeded Western Kentucky in their opener (64-57) followed by a win against eighth-seeded North Carolina (70-58).

Kansas features four seniors in its starting lineup: center Jeff Withey, forward Kevin Young and guards Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford. By contrast, none of Michigan’s top nine scorers is a senior. The Wolverines don’t have a true center on their roster, so look for them to employ a combination of players against Withey, a skilled 7-footer. Mitch McGary, a 6-10 freshman who averages 18.4 minutes, will likely get the first shot.

TV: 7:47 p.m. ET, TBS.

ABOUT MICHIGAN (28-7, 16-16-1 ATS):
Trey Burke has done some things in this tournament that he hasn’t done all season. In the opener against South Dakota State, the sophomore point guard and Big Ten Player of the Year scored in single digits for the first time this season, shooting a season-worst 2-for-12 and scoring six points in Auburn Hills, Mich. He came back with 18 points against VCU but committed a season-high seven turnovers. That number stood out even more because Burke is fourth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.11). 

ABOUT KANSAS (31-5, 20-15-0 ATS):
The Jayhawks have their own budding superstar in freshman guard Ben McLemore, but he’s also struggling lately. He missed all nine field-goal attempts against North Carolina and scored a season-low two points. He nearly had as many turnovers (four) as field-goal attempts (five) against Western Kentucky and hasn’t reached his 15.8 scoring average in the last four games dating to the Big 12 tournament semifinals. McLemore is capable of going on scoring sprees, having notched 30 or more points three times this season.

TRENDS:

* Wolverines are 4-1 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Jayhawks are 4-12 ATS in their last 16 vs. Big Ten.
* Over is 15-7-1 in Wolverines' last 23 non-conference games.
* Under is 23-11 in Jayhawks' last 34 non-conference games.

TIP-INS:

1. Kansas is 29-9 all-time as a No. 1 seed in the tournament, but 3-4 against the No. 4 seed.

2. Withey averages 16.5 points, 11 rebounds and 3.9 blocks, which ranks second in the nation.

3. The winner is guaranteed to play a Florida-based team for the first time this season, facing third-seeded Florida or 15-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in the Elite Eight.

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles vs. Florida Gators (-13, 135)


The NCAA could not have picked a more appropriate venue than Cowboys Stadium to host the South Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The home of America's team will become the domain for America's newest darlings when upstart Florida Gulf Coast plays in-state powerhouse Florida on Friday in Arlington, Tex. The Eagles became the first No. 15 seed in NCAA history to reach the Sweet 16 by blitzing No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State.

While Florida Gulf Coast has captivated the nation, the third-seeded Gators are flying under the radar with dominant wins over Northwestern State and Minnesota to reach the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season. Florida looked like the best team in the country earlier in the season, rolling off 10 straight wins with ease before struggling down the stretch. The Gators are no strangers to the NCAA's biggest stage, having won national championships in 2006 and 2007.

TV: 9:57 p.m. ET, TBS.

ABOUT FLORIDA GULF COAST (26-10, 6-0-0 ATS):
The Eagles have appeared unflappable through two games, riding the wondrous skills of sophomore point guard Brett Comer, the all-around play of backourt mate Sherwood Brown - the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year - and some high-flying antics that have earned them the moniker "Dunk City." Bernard Thompson scored 23 points in both tournament wins as Florida Gulf Coast continues to bear little resemblance to the team that lost to Lipscomb (twice), East Tennessee State, Stetson and Maine. "They play with a swagger, and they have a right to do that," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said.

ABOUT FLORIDA (28-7, 18-14-0 ATS): The Gators are well equipped to match up against the Eagles. Florida has a deep, experience lineup that features five players averaging between 12.8 and 9.2 points. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin is joined in the backcourt by 2,000-point scorer Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, who had a career-best 25 points against Minnesota. Forward Erik Murphy provides punch inside, averaging 16.5 points and shooting 72.2 percent in the tournament. Florida thrives on defense, having held 24 opponents under 60 points and limiting 13 to fewer than 50. Finally, coach Billy Donovan knows a little about the dangers of a Cinderella squad. He played point guard and led Providence to the Final Four in 1987.

TRENDS:

* Eagles are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
* Gators are 18-5 ATS in their last 23 NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 5-2 in Eagles' last seven overall.
* Over is 13-5 in Gators' last 18 NCAA Tournament games.

TIP-INS:

1. Florida, one of four programs to reach the Sweet 16 the past three seasons, is 5-1 in regional semifinals under Donovan.

2. Florida Gulf Coast joined the Atlantic Sun in 2007, and this season marked only its second year of eligibility for Division I postseason play.

3. Donovan is one of only four men (Dean Smith, Joe B. Hall and Bobby Knight) to appear in a Final Four as a player and win an NCAA title as a coach.

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