Breaking down the Sweet 16 opening lines: March Madness odds and best bets

Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski
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Andrew Ortenberg

NCAAB· 1 month ago

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I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

Well, the dust has officially settled. The opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and it was a rollercoaster. It delivered all the excitement we could have asked for, and there’s still a whole lot of basketball to be played. With the Round of 32 wrapping up on Sunday, it’s time to turn our attention to the Sweet 16.

Odds are now out for all of the Sweet 16 matchups, and we’re going to break down each of them. Let’s dive in, with lines courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

Make sure you head to our March Madness hub for a whole host of picks, best bets and parlays

#4 Arkansas vs #1 Gonzaga – (Gonzaga -9, total of 154)

Arkansas will be trying to pull off a big upset in the West region. Gonzaga looked vulnerable for much of its Round of 32 matchup against Memphis, but pulled away at the very end. The Bulldogs didn’t come particularly close to covering that double-digit spread though, as they won by only 4 points. Arkansas also failed to cover in its win over New Mexico State, winning by 5 as a 6-point favorite. Neither team looked impressive on Saturday, and nothing really jumps out to me here.

#11 Michigan vs #2 Villanova – (Villanova -5, total of 135.5)

Michigan just knocked off a very good Tennessee team, and the Wolverines have a lot of momentum entering this one. But it’s hard to want to bet against Collin Gillespie and Villanova right now. If anything, I’d lean toward the over. Villanova’s offense is extremely efficient, and they’ve put up 151 points through 2 tournament games despite playing at a very slow pace. Michigan has scored at least 75 in each of its first 2 games.

#3 Texas Tech vs #2 Duke – (Texas Tech -1, total of 136)

Duke and Texas Tech were both sizable favorites in the Round of 32, and both found themselves in absolute slugfests against Notre Dame and Michigan State respectively. Oddsmakers have the Red Raiders as the slightest of favorites. Will the Blue Devils be able to keep Coach K’s career going for another game? This might be the Sweet 16 matchup that I’m looking forward to most.

#15 Saint Peter’s vs #3 Purdue – (Purdue -12.5, total of 136.5)

Saint Peter’s will look to keep its miracle run going here against Purdue. Will they pull off yet another unlikely upset? Probably not, but whether they can keep it within 12.5 points is an entirely different question. Purdue has impressed against both Montana State and Texas, and Jaden Ivey is a real star, so I’m not going to fade them. But I can’t lay the -12.5 with the Boilermakers either.

#8 North Carolina vs #4 UCLA – (UCLA -2.5, total of 142.5)

What a weekend for North Carolina. The Tar Heels humiliated Marquette in the first round, and then upset defending champion Baylor in the Round of 32. UNC blew a 25-point lead against Baylor, but managed to squeak it out in overtime. UCLA looked great against Saint Mary’s most recently, but really struggled in the Round of 64 against Akron, and you never know which Bruins team is going to show up. That’s why I’m staying away here.

#5 Houston vs #1 Arizona – (Arizona -1.5, total of 144.5)

Arizona was the last team to punch a ticket to the Sweet 16, and now they’ll face Kelvin Sampson’s squad. Houston made light work of UAB in the Round of 64 and smothered Illinois on Sunday. Houston’s defense is as tough as they come so I’d maybe lean under, but I don’t have a strong feeling about it.

#4 Providence vs #1 Kansas – (Kansas -7.5, total of 141.5)

A lot of people called Providence the luckiest team in the country entering the tournament. But the Friars are laughing now. Their path to the Sweet 16 wasn’t exactly treacherous. They beat #13 seed South Dakota State in the first round and #12 seed Richmond in the second. That being said, their win over Richmond was about as convincing as you could have asked for. Still, going up against the Jayhawks is a tough task. Kansas didn’t show enough against Creighton for me to consider laying this many points with them here though.

#10 Miami vs #6 Iowa State – (Miami -2, total of 133.5)

One of these teams is about to earn an unlikely Elite 8 berth. Miami stunned Auburn to get here, while Iowa State pulled away late against Wisconsin. The Cyclones still aren’t getting the respect they deserve, and you should sleep on them at your own peril. Miami’s win over Auburn had a lot more to do with the Tigers playing terribly than it did anything the Hurricanes did particularly well. That’s why I’m jumping at the opportunity to take Iowa State as a ‘dog. Give me the +2 with ISU all day.

Pickswise is the home of expert March Madness Bracket advice, tips and tricks to help you win your league. Check out our hub more March Madness Predictions and Free Bets 

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