March Madness betting: Best bets for the Sweet 16 on Sunday
Following a four-day break in between rounds, the NCAA Tournament resumed on Saturday with Sweet 16 action. It will continue on Sunday, when the last four Elite Eight bids are handed out. March Madness has been positively mad so far, and we will see if that continues on the second weekend of the event. Let’s take a look at our three best bets across Sunday’s slate of four games.
Oregon Ducks +2.5 over USC Trojans
Pac-12 vs. Pac-12 in the Sweet 16…. Nobody saw that coming! This matchup is by no means expected (Kansas and Iowa were the top seeds in the bottom half of the West Region), but it should be a good one. The 2.5-point spread is the smallest of the entire weekend, but we still think getting 2.5 points is enough to give the Trojans solid value. USC being favored surely has a lot to do with its humiliation of Kansas in the second round in addition to a regular-season victory over Oregon. However, it has to be said that the Jayhawks were just awful. Oregon was not awful in its second-round contest (its first game of the tournament following a walkover from VCU). The Ducks dominated No. 2 seed Iowa from start to finish, led by Chris Duarte (23 points). Each of Oregon’s five starters shoots at least 36 percent from downtown, so even USC’s stingy defense will have a tough time.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida State Seminoles Under 145.5
A much more expected matchup pits Big Ten regular-season champion Michigan against ACC regular-season runner-up and tournament runner-up Florida State. Even though we like the Seminoles to cover, both of these teams are so good that we like a play on the total even more. And—much like almost everyone—we are backing the under. Michigan’s offense had no trouble with Texas Southern and LSU, but those teams don’t play any defense. Florida State is one of the longest and most athletics squads in the business on that end of the floor. The ‘Noles just held Colorado to 53 points right after the Buffaloes pinned 96 on Georgetown in the first round. The under is 7-2 in the Seminoles’ last nine NCAA Tournament games, 7-1 ATS in their last eight as underdogs, and 4-1 in their last five against opponents with winning percentages over .600. It is also 12-5 in the Wolverines’ last 17 overall.
Alabama Crimson Tide -6 over UCLA Bruins
Props to UCLA for joining the Pac-12 party in the Sweet 16, but both Oregon and USC are probably better teams. Although the Bruins have done well to defeat Michigan State, BYU, and Abilene Christian, getting to play Abilene Christian in the second round of the NCAA Tournament is a dream draw. Alabama, of course, will be a whole different best. This should be a favorable matchup for the Crimson Tide, who love to shoot the three-ball. UCLA is not great at defending the perimeter. At the other end of the court, ‘Bama is one of the best teams in the country at guarding pick-and-rolls—an offensive set that the Bruins love to run. Six points really isn’t a lot; the Tide should cover.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. UCLA Bruins preview and picks