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March Madness Sweet 16 Predictions: Who Wins? Who Makes the Final Four?

A lot of favorites have made their way into the Sweet Sixteen, but will all the top seeds make the Final Four?

March 25, 2024

The first two rounds of March Madness are in the books, as the field has been cut down to 16 teams vying for the 2024 men’s college basketball title.

At Tipico Sportsbook, you can bet on individual Sweet 16 games set to occur Thursday and Friday, or wager on which teams will still be standing after the Elite Eight is played Saturday and Sunday. Below is a region-by-region preview of the Sweet 16, coupled with current odds from Tipico Sportsbook — along with my picks to reach the Final Four.

East Region (Boston)

1 UConn vs. 5 San Diego State

UConn has lived up to its billing as the No. 1 overall seed so far, defeating Stetson by 39 and Northwestern by 17 while employing a balanced attack. Five Huskies scored in double digits in the first round, and UConn had three double-digit scorers against 9 seed Northwestern.

San Diego State will likely present a much stiffer challenge for the Huskies, as the Aztecs hung on for a 69-65 first-round win over 12 seed UAB, then blew out 13 seed Yale 85-57. Big man JaeDon LeDee has led the way for San Diego State with 29 PPG and 8.5 RPG in the NCAA Tournament. Keeping LeDee out of foul trouble will be imperative for San Diego State to keep it close, but the well-oiled UConn machine is running on all cylinders.

Moneyline pick: UConn

Spread pick: San Diego State

2 Iowa State vs. 3 Illinois

Iowa State is peaking at the right time. Since the start of the Big 12 Tournament, the Cyclones have won five straight games by double digits, and their opponents over that span have included Baylor, Houston, and most recently, No. 7 seed Washington State. Like UConn, Iowa State boasts a balanced attack and plays effective, physical defense. The Cyclones had five double-digit scorers in the first round against South Dakota State and four scorers reached double digits against Washington State.

Illinois is also a conference tournament champion, as the Fighting Illini won the Big 10 Tournament and have scored over 70 points in every game of their six-game winning streak, including 85 and 89 points against 14 seed Morehead State and 11 seed Duquesne, respectively. Guard Terrence Shannon Jr. has led the way with 28 PPG in the NCAA Tournament. Both teams are red hot, but Iowa State’s superior defense could be the difference, as the Cyclones want this game played in the 60s, while Illinois will try to push the pace.

Moneyline and spread pick: Iowa State

East Region Final Four Pick: UConn (-230)

West Region (Los Angeles)

1 North Carolina vs. 4 Alabama 

North Carolina had the benefit of playing its first two games in front of a partisan crowd in Charlotte, so this will be the first truly neutral contest for the Tar Heels. Alabama arguably has the more talented roster, led by guard Mark Sears, who averaged 28 PPG against 13 seed College of Charleston and 12 seed Grand Canyon. UNC is more capable of exploiting Alabama’s defensive deficiencies than those two underdogs were, as guard RJ Davis (21 PPG) and forward Armando Bacot (19 PPG) have helped the Tar Heels blow out Wagner (90-62) and defeat 9 seed Michigan State (85-69).

Even without the crowd behind them, the Tar Heels are the more well-rounded team, as Alabama has allowed at least 88 points in nine of its last 12 games, so the Crimson Tide have little margin for error on the offensive end.

Moneyline and spread pick: North Carolina

2 Arizona vs. 6 Clemson

Arizona is the only Western team left in the West Region, as the other three all hail from the Southeast. Guard Caleb Love (18.5 PPG) is one of three players that posted double-digit points in each of the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament wins, which came by 20 points over Long Beach State and 10 points over 7 seed Dayton.

Clemson — the only 6 seed to get out of the first round — blew out New Mexico by 21 and was on its way to another comfortable win with a 15-point lead over 3 seed Baylor before nearly choking it away. The Tigers held on for a 72-64 victory and are looking like the team that got off to a 9-0 start this season. Clemson’s NCAA Tournament success has come despite getting just 12.5 PPG from PJ Hall and 10 PPG from Joseph Girard, who led the team with 18.5 PPG this season and 15.3 PPG, respectively. With the supporting cast stepping up, the Tigers are more than capable of winning this game if the team’s top players wake up.

Moneyline and spread pick: Clemson

West Region Final Four Pick: UNC (+170)

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South Region (Dallas)

1 Houston vs. 4 Duke

Houston was pushed to the brink by Texas A&M in Round 2, surviving 100-95 in overtime after a late regulation collapse. Duke has capitalized on an easy draw, beating 13 seed Vermont by 17 and 12 seed James Madison by 38. Against James Madison, Jared McCain scored 30 points, which was the second-most among Duke freshmen in NCAA Tournament history, just behind Zion Williamson’s 32, and slotting in just ahead of Kyrie Irving’s 28.

Duke is much better than Texas A&M, so McCain and the Blue Devil crew are certainly capable of pulling this one out, even in Houston’s home state. This is a battle of teams that underachieved in their respective conference tournaments, as Houston was blown out by Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament title game, while Duke lost early in the ACC Tournament to NC State.

Moneyline and spread pick: Duke

2 Marquette vs. 11 NC State

Marquette has the easiest potential path to the Elite Eight in terms of opponent seeding. Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles beat 15 seed Western Kentucky by 18, then escaped with a four-point win over 10 seed Colorado. Despite the outstanding play of guards Tyler Kolek (19.5 PPG, 11 APG) and Kameron Jones (23 PPG), Marquette has hardly looked dominant thus far.

Red-hot NC State won five consecutive games to win the ACC Tournament and get into the tournament field, taking out Duke and UNC along the way. The Wolfpack then defeated 6 seed Texas Tech 80-67 and knocked off 14 seed Oakland 79-73 in overtime. While Marquette plays through its guards, NC State has been all about pounding the rock inside to Mahamed Diarra (14 PPG, 12.5 RPG) and DJ Burns Jr. (20 PPG, 6 RPG).

Moneyline and spread pick: NC State

South Region Final Four Pick: Duke (+350)

Midwest Region (Detroit) 

1 Purdue vs. 5 Gonzaga

While 7-4 center Zach Edey gets most of the headlines, Purdue is arguably even better when playing at a faster pace and putting the ball in the hands of the team’s numerous knockdown three-point shooters. The Boilermakers can beat you at any pace, and they won their first two tourney games by a combined 67 points.

Gonzaga has also been dominant in the tournament so far, knocking off McNeese State and a depleted Kansas team by 21 points apiece. This one could come down to how both teams respond to being in a close game down the stretch, and Gonzaga has less experience with that this season — the Bulldogs lost their last close game to Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament final. The Boilermakers are looking to follow in Virginia’s footsteps, as the Cavaliers won the NCAA Tournament after being eliminated by a 16 seed the previous year.

Moneyline pick: Purdue

Spread pick: Gonzaga

2 Tennessee vs. 3 Creighton

Tennessee came into the tournament on a two-game losing streak but righted the ship with wins over Saint Peter’s (83-49) and 7 seed Texas (62-58). The Volunteers are battle-tested after a tough SEC schedule, and Dalton Knecht (20.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG) has been leading the way.

Creighton defeated 14 seed Akron 77-60, then outscored 11 seed Oregon 15-2 in overtime to come away with an 86-73 win. Four players are averaging over 15 PPG in the tournament for the Blue Jays: Ryan Kalkbrenner (21), Trey Alexander (19.5), Baylor Scheierman (16.5) and Steven Ashworth (15.5). All that offensive firepower in the starting lineup could help Creighton keep dancing, even though Tennessee is a far tougher opponent on paper than either of Creighton’s first two matchups were.

Moneyline and spread pick: Creighton

Midwest Region Final Four Pick: Purdue (+130)

Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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