- Two No. 1 seeds fail to make the Sweet 16 for the first time in 14 years
- The South Region’s top four seeds lose already.
- A No. 16 seed beating a top seed the first time ever.
It’s been a crazy March for sure. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t still navigate the betting market with accuracy. In fact, I see 5 enticing bets in this weekend’s Sweet 16.
I’m going to discuss 5 schools that have a great chance to cover. Also, keep in mind that you can bet on these teams as well as the entire Sweet 16 at GTBets.eu.
1. No. 5 Kentucky Covers -5.5 Against No. 9 Kansas State (Thurs, 9:37 p.m., CBS)
Kentucky is the top seed left in the South Region after the top four seeds were upset. Many were expecting the Wildcats have to play No. 4 Arizona and Deandre Ayton, who’s considered the top NBA prospect heading into the 2018 Draft. But Buffalo dominated Arizona and, in turn, had the same done to them against Kentucky.
John Calipari’s squad now faces Kansas State, which has been a solid team this season. The Wildcats will get a boost when Dean Wade returns to the lineup. However, I’ll don’t see this making enough of a difference.
K-State is quite possibly the most-predictable tournament team, because they beat teams they’re supposed to, and lose to superior opponents. Case in point: they were 10-1 against Big 12 opponents that were lower in the standings, and 0-7 against higher teams.
Add in the fact that Kentucky is playing their best basketball this season, and I don’t see this contest being particularly close. The Wildcats have won 9 out of their last 10, and they shouldn’t have any trouble continuing this impressive streak.
Score Prediction: Kentucky 82, Kansas State 68
2. No. 3 Texas Tech Covers +2 Against No. 2 Purdue (Friday, 9:57 p.m., TBS)
Purdue had the best inside-outside game in college basketball. But they took a major hit when Isaac Haas got injured. The 7-footer was key to drawing defenders into the paint so that Purdue could get open shots on the perimeter.
The Boilermakers will attempt to use the same formula with backup center Matt Haarms, who had a good game against Butler. Purdue was able to make 11 of their 24 shots from behind the arc in the second round. And they’re going to need the same hot shooting to beat Texas Tech.
Carsen Edwards, Vincent Edwards, Ryan Cline, Dakota Mathias, and P.J. Thompson have all shot at least 100 three-pointers and made over 40% of their attempts. Even without Haas, this team will be tough to beat.
But the Red Raiders can also fill up the nets. This is especially the case now that senior point guard Keenan Evans is back on the court and healthy.
Evans has averaged 22.5 points in the first two rounds. While Purdue plays solid defense, Evans will likely once again score over 20 points.
Perhaps more importantly, Tech Tech has a long, mobile defense that can get out on shooters. Without Haas down low, this team will be able to roam around the perimeter even more and force Purdue off the three-point line.
This game is going to be close. But Texas Tech will be on the right side of their +2 spread.
Score Prediction: Texas Tech 73, Purdue 72
3. No. 2 Duke Covers -11.5 Against No. 11 Syracuse (Friday, 9:37 p.m., CBS)
The Orange were the last team taken by the selection committee. Starting in a play-in game against Arizona State, Syracuse didn’t seem to have a chance of going very far. But they’ve now rattled off three wins to reach the Sweet 16.
Syracuse is a bad offensive team that leans heavily on Tyus Battle to score. But their strength is a zone defense that forces opponents to shoot just 37% from the field.
It’s no secret that Jim Boeheim’s club will look to slow this game down and make it an ugly affair, much like they did in an upset victory over Michigan State.
Duke has by far the more-talented team here. They feature a starting lineup full of first-round NBA picks, including Marvin Bagley, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr, Wendell Carter, and Trevon Duval.
The Blue Devils can easily turn this game into a blowout if they get out in transition. The same is true if they can speed the contest up.
But what if Syracuse manages to slow this game down as planned? Odds are that Duke will be better at this too.
Duke already beat Syracuse in the same style of game in late February, winning 60-44. The key to this victory was the talented Blue Devils’ talented shutting down Syracuse’s already inept offense. Expect a repeat of the same on Friday.
Score Prediction: Duke 66, Syracuse 41
4. No. 4 Gonzaga Covers -5.5 Against No. 9 Florida State (Thurs, 10:07 p.m., TBS)
The Zags have exceeded expectations this year, coming off the heels of a national title appearance and losing four of their top eight players. The Bulldogs feature strong guard play with Josh Perkins and Silas Melson. They also like to get up and down the court quickly.
This should make for an interesting matchup, because Florida State also plays at a fast pace. The Seminoles have well-distributed scoring, with their top scorer averaging 12.9 PPG.
Florida State scored an impressive victory against No. 1 seed Xavier. They were able to hold Muskateers stars Trevon Bluiett and Quentin Goodin to a combined 14 points on 31% shooting.
As good as the last victory was, though, Florida State just doesn’t have enough prime-time tournament experience to get past Gonzaga. Furthermore, they’re a middle-of-the-pack tournament team that’s run its course.
Score Predcition: Gonzaga 82, Florida State 73
5. No. 1 Villanova Covers -5 Against No. 5 West Virginia (Friday, 7:37 p.m., TBS)
The Mountaineers feature a tough defense that can suffocate opposing teams. They’re great at forcing turnovers, ranking 11th in the nation in this category. And Bob Huggins’ team causes real fits for opponents with their full court press.
One interesting matchup in this contest will be between West Virginia’s Jevon Carter and Villanova’s Jalen Brunson. But while the Mountaineers may match up well here, they’ll have a real struggle to also contain Mikal Bridges. Wesley Harris or Esa Ahamd will take turns trying to handle the future NBA lottery pick.
If they’re not up to the task, then the Wildcats could walk away with this one. And I don’t see Jay Wright’s team having much trouble breaking West Virginia’s press.
Score Prediction: Villanova 80, West Virginia 72