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March Madness: Sweet 16 Betting Guide for Thursday 3/28


The NCAA Tournament rolls along after one of the chalkiest weekends ever. All the top three-seeds in each region are alive and only one double-digit seed has made it to the Sweet 16 (No. 12 Oregon).

Now, despite the lack of upsets, the cream of the crop remain and that makes for what should be, splendid basketball.

Thursday night games will feature the West and South regions. Friday night games will feature the East and Midwest regions.

 

West Region - Betting Guide

No. 1 Gonzaga -7.5 vs. No. 4 Florida State (7:09 on CBS)

This is a rematch of last year's Sweet 16 in which the Seminoles upset the Bulldogs. I don't expect the same outcome, but I do expect an extremely tight battle. Both these teams are long and athletic. Gonzaga has better players, but Florida State can go 10-deep. I'm not sure being that deep off a five-day rest is as important as a one-day rest, but having a good bench is never a bad thing.

This line opened at 6.5, but is now at 7.5, despite 62 percent of the bets in favor of FSU. That signals reverse line movement; the public on the Noles, but the sharps or wiseguys on the Zags. Vegas is more scared of the sharps than the general public. This game will also be played in Anaheim, CA, so Gonzaga will have a home crowd. Take all that into account, and I'm taking the Zags to win and cover.

 

No. 2 Michigan -1.5 vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (9:39 on CBS)

Both of these teams are rolling. Michigan has won its first two games of the tournament by an average of 17 points while Texas Tech has won theirs by an average of 17.5 points. This is going to be a slow-grind-it-out style game as the over/under is set at 126. Both teams also like to play slow and play great defense. I think the key to this game will be coaching and John Beilein is a terrific tournament coach.

I'm also going to go back to the stat I wrote about Texas Tech last week; top three seeds unranked before the season have made the Final Four just two times out of 53 since the field expanded in 1986.

For those reasons, I'm taking Michigan in what will come down to the last minute.

 

South Region - Betting Guide

No. 2 Tennessee -1.5 vs. No. 3 Purdue (7:29 on TBS)

The Vols looked like they were rolling to a Sweet 16 appearance with a 21-point halftime lead, but they almost blew it, edging Iowa out in overtime. Purdue on the otherhand, demolished defending-champion Villanova by 26.

Tennessee can score a lot, but also can struggle to play defense, ranking 33rd according to kenpom.com. Only two teams remaining have a worse defense than the Vols (Auburn and LSU). Purdue's defense isn't much better ranking 27th. But their offenses are spectacular; Tennessee is third and Purdue fifth. Tennessee has a consistent offense behind big-men Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams who combine to shoot 52 percent from the field. If you foul them, well good luck because they combine to shoot 77 percent from the foul line. I get nervous because their two bigs are their best players so who do you go to in crunch-time, but guard Jordan Bone really stepped up against Iowa with a clutch three toward the end of the game.

As for Purdue's offense, everything runs through guard Carsen Edwards. He has the fifth-most attempts per game in NCAA, 19.32, which is a major reason why he averages 23.6 points per game. However, he only shoots 39 percent from the field. In 34 games, Edwards has shot less than 35 percent 14 times. You look at his game logs and you will see it riddled with 4-17's or 7-31.'s If Edwards goes 12-21 for 42 points like he did against Nova, then Purdue will win. If not, then they'll lose. The Vols will make it a priority to stop him and let his teammates beat them. Lamonte Turner has already said Edwards won't drop 40. Game. On.

I'm taking Tennessee here. I think their experience and more star-power gets it done.

 

No. 1 Virginia -8.5 vs. No. 12 Oregon (9:59 on TBS)

This is a classic sharps vs. average Joe's game. 56 percent of the bets are on Oregon, yet the line has moved from 7.5 to 8.5 in favor of the Hoos. That means the sharps are on Virginia, and they're on them big.

According to the Action Network, "Teams seeded 10th or lower have gone 7-23 straight up and 14-15-1 against the spread in the Sweet 16 since 2005." The Action Network even has Virginia as an 11-point favorite!

As for how I think the game will play, Oregon struggles to score. Their adjusted offense is ranked 74th by Ken Pom, far and below the rest of the teams remaining (Texas Tech is second-worst ranking 35th). Now, some of you may be saying, 'Virginia doesn't have an offense.' But that couldn't be further from the truth because they're ranked second in adjusted offense. Oregon's adjusted defense is ranked 15th while Virginia is third.

Oregon's style of play plays right into how Virginia wants it. The Cavaliers got last year's nerves off their back after a slow start against Gardner Webb, but since that first half, have dominated. Virginia is by far the better team here and Oregon's run will come to an end Thursday night.