March Madness Sweet 16 Best Bets: 2024 NCAA Tournament Top Picks for Thursday, March 28

North Carolina Tar Heels players RJ Davis (4) Harrison Ingram (55) Elliot Cadeua (2) forward Armando Bacot (5) and guard Cormac Ryan (3) take the floor during the first half against the Duke Blue Devils.
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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 Sweet 16 this week, 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 first week days of the tournament in the rearview mirror, it’s time to turn to the business end of the proceedings. Let’s get into my best bets for Thursday’s Sweet 16 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.

North Carolina Tar Heels -3.5 over Alabama Crimson Tide (-115)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to North Carolina -4.5

I had my doubts about North Carolina’s top-10 defense (KenPom) and whether that would be transferable in the postseason, but the Tar Heels have exceeded my expectations through their first two games. It all starts with Armando Bacot in the middle, who has been fantastic as the anchor of this unit, but he’s not alone. The Tar Heels made Michigan State’s life extremely difficult on the perimeter as well in their most recent victory thanks to Seth Trimble, Harrison Ingram and Elliot Cadeau. And when Ingram is chipping in 15+ points on the offensive end to support Bacot, RJ Davis and Cormac Ryan, this team is extremely hard to beat. This matchup is a major step up in class for an Alabama team that was fortunate to escape its second-round matchup with a win over Grand Canyon, although the Crimson Tide still lost senior sharpshooter Latrell Wrightsell Jr. to a head injury in that game.

The Tar Heels like to play fast and they’ll get a team in Alabama that is more than happy to oblige, as the Crimson Tide play at one of the fast paces in the country while jacking up a ton of threes. That introduces a ton of variance into the game, which could end up coming back to bite us here (like it did against Grand Canyon last weekend). However, this North Carolina team is much more efficient than the Antelopes from top to bottom, and I expect Davis, Bacot and company to generate a ton of open looks from three and at the rim in this matchup. And on the other side, I can’t see the Crimson Tide getting out and having a ton of success in transition without immediately surrendering a good look on the other end. Ultimately, I just trust this veteran group to execute consistently in a game against an Alabama team that hasn’t exactly played much defense in the paint all season. Let’s back the Tar Heels to make a statement.

Read our full Alabama Crimson Tide vs North Carolina Tar Heels predictions

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