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NCAAB Previewing the Sweet 16 – And Picks

Scott Morris | March 26, 2024
UConn basketball preview and sweet 16 picks

We’re down to the Sweet 16 in what’s been a fairly formful men’s NCAA basketball tournament. This time around, formful is defined as all eight of the top seeds still playing. 

It’s no surprise that the defending-champion Connecticut Huskies remain the clear betting favorites at 11-5 (+220), according to NCAA men’s basketball tournament odds. UConn was unchallenged in its first two games, handling the Stetson Hatters and Northwestern Wildcats by a combined 56 points (first half margin was 92-37).

Odds aren’t changing anytime soon, with an ever-expanding Huskie bandwagon.

Here’s a look at odds ahead of the Sweet 16, and where you should be looking to wager… 

 

East Region

The East is where you’ll find the top-seeded Connecticut Huskies, opposing the Aztecs of San Diego St. Thursday evening in Boston. This is a rematch of the UConn-dominated national championship game of last season.

UConn is a robust 11-point favorite (total at 136), as per NCAA basketball odds.

Moneyline is Huskies -600, Aztecs at +450. San Diego St. has its hands full with Alabama- Birmingham in the first game, but no issues with Yale this past Sunday.  

Whether the underdog Aztecs can dictate the tempo remains to be seen, 

The other Sweet 16 game in this region features the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Iowa St. Cyclones. It’s the Cyclones as two-point choices (total at 146),  with the moneyline reading ISU -135, Illinois at +115. Both ended with double-digit victories in each of their first two games.  

This may well be one of the better games in the third round, as the explosive Illini (84.6 points per game) knock heads with the stingy Cyclones, who surrender just 61.3 points/game.

 

Midwest Region

Zach Edey and the Purdue Boilermakers, postseason failures in recent seasons, appear to be on a mission in the Midwest. Purdue defeated Grambling by 28 points, then dismembered Utah St., 106-67. That was the team’s school-record 31st win of the season, along with more points than the Boilermakers have ever scored in a tourney game. 

Next are the Gonzaga Bulldogs Friday in Detroit. Purdue is a five-point favorite (total at 154½). Moneyline is Boilermakers -230, ‘Zags at +190.

Gonzaga, which has been a solid tournament team seemingly forever, has a pair of 21-point wins (McNeese St. Cowboys and Kansas) to this point. Gonzaga trailed the Jayhawks by a points at the half,  

Edey (53 points, 35 rebounds in tourney) is again going to be the difference. Purdue will prevail.

Also, the Creighton Bluejays draw the Tennessee Volunteers, and this should be a battle. Creighton needed double overtime to outlast the Oregon Ducks by 13 (15-2 in final stanza) in the second round, while Tennessee held off the Texas Longhorns by four.  

It’s the Vols as “football field-goal favorites” (total at 143½). Moneyline is Tennessee -155, Creighton at +135. We are siding with coach Rick Barnes and Tennessee. 

 

South Region

sweet 16 previews and picksThe South finds the only double-digit seed in the hunt, as No. 11 North Carolina St., winner of its last seven, opposes Marquette Friday evening in Dallas. It’s the Golden Eagles as 6½-point favorites (total at 150½). Moneyline is Marquette -280, NC St. at +230.

Marquette was in a seven-point halftime hole before blowing by Western Kentucky in the opener, then edged Colorado this past Sunday. 

Feel-good North Carolina St needed overtime to dispose of pesky Oakland, that after a baker’s dozen victory over Texas Tech began its tournament.  

Also in Dallas, it’s the “hometown” Houston Cougars a four-point choice over Duke Blue Devils. (total at 134). Moneyline is Houston -185, Duke at +160. 

Houston was able to regroup in overtime Sunday after squandering a fat, late lead against Texas A&M. It’s a fair question as to whether that game took a whole lot out of the Cougars.

Duke was mediocre in its opener against the Catamounts of Vermont, then took out James Madison by 38 points. Saying this is more if a test would be a rather moronic statement,

 

West Region

Thursday in Los Angeles, the Clemson Tigers and Arizona Wildcats do battle in the West. Clemson has been one of the better stories this season, but it’s Arizona as a “touchdown favorite” (total at 152). Moneyline is ‘Cats -295, Tigers at +245.

Arizona was 20 points better than both Long Beach St. and Dayton in the first two rounds, while the Tigers easily handled New Mexico before getting past Baylor. Clemson was the underdog in both. Arizona will have too many weapons in this game.

North Carolina is the top seed in this sector, and the Tar Heels are four-point favorites over the Alabama Crimson Tide (total at 173½). Moneyline is Heels -170, Tide at +148.

North Carolina was 28 points better than play-in foe Wagner, then defeated Michigan St. by 16. Carolina had to dig itself out of a dozen-point hole against the Spartans. 

‘Bama torched Charleston to the tune of 109 points, then disposed of the Grand Canyon Antelopes after trailing with six minutes remaining. 

First to 90 may win, but we’re going with North Carolina.

 

 

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