March Madness Elite 8 Best Bets: NCAA Tournament Picks for Elite 8 Day Two - Sunday, March 31

Duke Blue Devils forward Mark Mitchell (25) reacts to a missed shot during the second half against the Charlotte 49ers at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
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After a long and unpredictable college basketball season, March Madness has certainly lived up to its name thus far. We’re on to the Elite 8 this weekend, and what a tournament it has been! We’ve seen massive upsets on both sides of the bracket, to go along with a few near buzzer-beaters, wild comebacks, improbable meltdowns and everything in between. 

With the Sweet 16 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to turn to the business end of the proceedings. Let’s get into my best bets for Sunday’s Elite 8 action on the hardwood. Also, be sure to keep an eye on our March Madness picks for all the content you need to get you primed for all of the games this weekend.

Duke Blue Devils -5.5 over NC State Wolfpack (-110)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to Duke -6.5

The argument against Duke is fairly simple; the Blue Devils are undeniably fortunate to be here. And while Houston losing Jamal Shead (an all-world defender and team leader) was critical in that Sweet 16 matchup on Friday, Duke had remained attached with the Cougars after weathering the early storm. The Blue Devils were in the game prior to the injury and clearly played like the better team following Shead’s exit. Duke’s perimeter defense has been a revelation in this tournament, defending the 3-pointer at a top 20 rate since March 1 per BartTorvik, while also boasting a top 10 offense since that point. The guards are playing at a high level on both ends, Kyle Filipowski is playing some of his best basketball of the season and Duke is getting some important contributions from its bench. It’s all clicking for Bleu Devils in this tournament.

Even if you’re of the belief that Duke doesn’t deserve to be in this position, it’s not like NC State has been unlucky in its road to an Elite 8 appearance. The Wolfpack have won 8 straight games, and shooting variance has played a major role in nearly all of their wins in March. At some point, a team playing NC State is going to make a shot, particularly from the outside. In this tournament alone, Texas Tech shot 22.6% from deep and Marquette shot an abysmal 13% from the outside, which was far and away its worst shooting performance of the season. Not only should Duke experience a bit of positive shooting regression, but the Blue Devils just lost to this same NC State team in the ACC Quarterfinals back on March 14, so this should be a maximum effort game from Duke in a massive revenge spot. Unless the Wolfpack continue to leave opponents wide open from 3-point range and they continue to miss, it feels like the Cinderella story comes to an end on Sunday.

Read our full Duke Blue Devils vs NC State Wolfpack predictions

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