In our series Tipico Edge, we work with both our internal analysts and external experts to provide you with betting insights and tips on key games or tournaments.
Wow, what a weekend. The madness this March has such a peculiar flavor. We got our second-ever 16-seed over 1-seed upset with Farleigh Dickinson’s triumph over Purdue. Furman had a miraculous buzzer-beater to knock out Virginia, and Florida Atlantic needed some late-game heroics to top Memphis, too.
Blue bloods Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky all went home after losses in the Round of 32, and 2021 champion Baylor failed to advance as well. This tournament never fails to disappoint, and we’ve got some juicy matchups ahead of us in the Sweet 16. Let’s take a bite into each one.
(1) Alabama vs (5) San Diego State
The Tide cruised to consecutive 20-plus point victories en route to the Sweet 16. Superstar Brandon Miller dropped 19 in the second-round win over Maryland after being held scoreless in the first round, but the rest of the roster was able to compensate for him.
The top overall seeded team is a nightmare for any opponent right now. San Diego State had arguably the easiest path to the Sweet 16 after knocking off the College of Charleston and Furman. The Aztecs have one of the toughest defenses in the country and will contest every shot the Tide take.
This will be the toughest test ‘Bama has faced in the tournament so far because of that smashmouth defense, but the Aztecs haven’t seen a monster like the Tide either. This should be closer than most think, but Alabama rolls after all is said and done.
Spread, Line, Odds, Team trends for Alabama vs. SDSU
(6) Creighton vs (15) Princeton
Princeton is this year’s Cinderella story so far, knocking off second-seeded Arizona and seventh-seeded Missouri to reach the Sweet 16. The Tigers have a knack for slowing the pace of play to their preferred methodical style, which can knock their opponents off balance whether the Tigers are up or down on the scoreboard.
While Creighton hasn’t had much tournament success in recent memory, they are no Cinderella. They looked every bit a serious threat to win the South in their victories over NC State and Baylor. Ryan Nembhard has all the tools to be the kind of guard that steals games in this tournament, and 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner is a matchup nightmare in the paint.
Spread, Line, Odds, Team Trends for Princeton vs Creighton
(4) Tennessee vs (9) Florida Atlantic
Tennessee absolutely manhandled a Duke team that came in on a 10-game winning streak. It didn’t matter that the Blue Devils touted three potential first-round draft picks in this summer’s NBA draft, or that coach Jon Scheyer’s team cruised to an ACC tournament championship. The Volunteers outmuscled, out-willed, and all-around overpowered Duke in the Round of 32.
Florida Atlantic finished the season 33-3 and had some luck in their two games leading to the Sweet 16. They needed a last-second shot and some questionable officiating to beat Memphis in Round 1 and had the fortune of playing the KenPom-ranked 298th team in 16-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson in Round 2.
Any team that wins 33 games is a threat, but the Vols just seem to have the pedigree to fight their way through this one.
Spread, Line, Odds, Team Trends for Tennessee vs FAU
(3) Kansas State vs (7) Michigan State
Kansas State was picked to finish last in the Big 12 in the preseason. New coach Jerome Tang used that as a rallying cry, and after his team finished third in the vaunted conference it comes into this Sweet 16 matchup with some mojo. It’s this kind of mojo that propelled them to wins over Kansas, Texas, and Baylor (twice).
But, it’s coach Tom Izzo. In March! The Spartans may not have the typical NBA talent that Izzo’s accustomed to wielding, but they’ve got experience playing the likes of Gonzaga, Alabama, and Kentucky. Sparty lost to the Zags by one, Bama by 12, and bested Kentucky in double OT. This is one of the toughest to call.
Winner: Kansas State
Spread, Line, Odds, Team Trends for Kansas St vs Michigan St
(1) Houston vs (5) Miami
At some point, both of these teams might end up asking themselves what could have been if two key players didn’t get hurt heading into the tournament. Houston’s leading scorer Marcus Sasser is nursing a groin injury, and Jamal Shead hurt his knee in the Round of 32 win over Auburn. Yet, both still contributed and Tramon Mark stepped up with 26 points to help the Cougars erase a 10-point halftime deficit and outscore the Tigers 50-23 in the second half.
Miami is hoping to get back to the Elite Eight for the second straight year, and it needs big man Norchad Omier to get healthier in order to do so. He was questionable coming into the tournament but still played in both wins. Guards Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller, and Nijel Pack have the skill and experience to make it a long night for the Cougars’ backcourt.
Spread, Line, Odds, Team Trends for Houston vs Miami
(2) Texas vs (3) Xavier
Texas demolished Kansas by 20 in the Big 12 title game and cruised to victories over Colgate and Penn State to kick off their tournament. They’ve got star power with Marcus Carr and Timmy Allen, but so much depth with Sir’Jabari Rice and Dylan Disu in the supporting cast. Xavier has an upperclassmen-laden team and a coach with tons of tournament experience in Sean Miller.
Both teams are finding their stride at the right time, I just think the Longhorns’ stride looks to be on a whole different level than the Musketeers’.
Spread, Line, Odds, Team Trends for Texas vs Xavier
(4) UConn vs (8) Arkansas
If I had to pick one game to watch this round, it’d be this one. Arkansas was ranked inside the top-10 of the preseason poll and had high hopes to make its second straight run to the Elite Eight. It has high-caliber NBA prospects in Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black, and Ricky Council IV and just knocked off top-seeded Kansas en route to the Sweet 16. The Razorbacks are getting hot at the right time.
But, so are these UConn Huskies. They just have that swagger. Adama Sanogo put up video game numbers in the first two rounds, and the whole Huskies roster is primed with talent. If UConn can keep hitting threes at the nearly 47 percent clip like in their first two tournament games, watch out.
Spread, Line, Odds, Team Trends for UConn vs Arkansas
(3) Gonzaga vs (2) UCLA
Coach Mick Cronin’s Bruins play some of the best defense in the country and Jaime Jaquez is putting on an impressive offensive show. This team has a winning pedigree, too, and has gone to the Final Four and Elite Eight in their last two tournament runs.
UCLA’s stout defense will tip off against the KenPom-rated best offense in the country with this year’s rendition of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Winning pedigree? Check. Starpower? Check. Depth? Check. The Zags have all the makings of a winner, so it’ll come down to if they’re actually contending or just pretending this time around.
Spread, Line, Odds, Team Trends for UCLA vs Gonzaga
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