5 Sweet Sixteen Bets to Make in 2018 March Madness

sweet-16-bets2018 March Madness has been great for fans of the unpredictable. This year’s tournament has seen:

  • 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)

gilgeous-alexanderKentucky 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-sweet-16-oddsPurdue 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)

duke-sweet-16-oddsThe Midwest Region has almost gone by script so far. But Syracuse is the one surprise in this region.

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)

josh-perkins-gonzagaThe 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)

milal-bridges-villanovaVillanova and West Virginia are widely viewed as one of the most-competitive games in the Sweet 16.

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

Sweet Sixteen Betting: Purdue vs Kansas Analysis

The Purdue Boilermakers have reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010, knocking off Vermont and Iowa State in the process. This is important for Purdue because they blew big leads against both Cincinnati (2015) and Arkansas-Little Rock (2016) in the last two tournaments.

It seemed like the Boilermakers were destined to lose another late lead against the Cyclones. But they were able to rally and beat Iowa State 80-76 to move on.

Kansas is in a more familiar spot, having reached the Sweet Sixteen this season and the Elite Eight last year. They’ve made it here with a 100-62 win over UC Davis and a 90-70 victory over Michigan State. Many believe that Kansas has the talent to go all the way – as reiterated by our Sweet 16 overview. But they’ll have to get by a solid Purdue squad to do it.

That said, let’s discuss how this matchup will play out and offer some betting advice.

Purdue (27-7) vs. Kansas (30-4); Thursday (Mar 23 @ 9:35pm)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: Kansas -5; Purdue +5

Why the Boilermakers will Cover the Spread

caleb-swanigan-purdueWinners of the Big Ten regular season crown, Purdue has been strong all season. They’ve leaned on Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan (18.5 PPG, 12.6 RPG), who’s averaging 18 points, 13 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2 blocks in two tournament contests.

But this isn’t just a one-man team since forward Vincent Edwards (12.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG) has stepped up. He’s shooting over 60% in the tourney, while averaging 21 points, 7.5 boards, and 3.5 assists. Edwards can disappear for stretches, but that hasn’t happened in the Boilermakers’ tournament run so far. If he can come up big against Kansas, then they have a real shot to win.

Freshman point guard Carsen Edwards (10.4 PPG) is another X-factor since he’s explosive and can get hot behind the arc. He’s played average in the tournament, but could be due for a big game.

vincent-edwards-purdueAnother key for the Boilermakers will be their 3-point shooting. They ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in this category and can beat any team when they’re on. Junior guard Dakota Mathias was the conference’s best three-point shooter, hitting 45.8% of his attempts. Vincent Edwards, Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline, P.J. Thompson, and Swanigan can also hit from deep when given the opportunity.

With so many shooters to cover and solid inside play from Swanigan, Purdue is a team that’s difficult to cover – even for a talented Jayhawks team. Assuming Kansas doesn’t bring their A-game, then this will be a closer-than-anticipated contest.

Above all, the biggest reason to bet on the Boilermakers is that they’re 7-3-2 against the spread (ATS) over their last 12 contests.

Why the Jayhawks will Cover the Spread

frank-mason-kansasAlong with North Carolina, Kansas is a favorite to win the tournament. Truth be told, they’re probably expecting to meet UNC in the Final Four since they’re the lone remaining No. 1 seeds, and are on the same side of the bracket.

But their immediate focus is on a Purdue team that’ll look to pull off the upset. This will be hard, given that Kansas is led by Frank Mason III (20.8 PPG, 5.2 APG), the leading contender for the Naismith Award. Not only is Mason capable of taking over games, but he’s also efficient, hitting 47.2% of his three-point attempts.

Perhaps even more important is the senior point guard’s clutch factor since the Jayhawks are 9-1 in games decided by three points or less. If you’re betting on Kansas to cover the spread, you don’t want to see it get to this point. But just know that Mason won’t crack under the pressure when things get tough.

The team’s most-talented player is forward Josh Jackson, who averages 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks. The 6’8″ freshman is a top-5 projected lottery pick, and his talent is crucial to what Kansas does.

josh-jackson-kansasThe Jayhawks’ backcourt is completed by Devonte’ Graham, a 6’2″ shooting guard who scores 13.3 PPG. Graham also helps stretch the defense with is 39.2% three-point shooting.

Wing player Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (9.7 PPG) is another shooter on this roster, hitting 39.5% of his attempts from beyond the arc. 6’10” forward Landen Lucas steadies the Jayhawks down low, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game.

The one big thing that Kansas can do is overwhelm opponents with their scoring. They’re averaging 95 points in the tournament so far, and we don’t see them going under 80 against Purdue. This gives Kansas an excellent chance to cover the spread if the Boilermakers aren’t near perfect on offense.

The Jayhawks are slightly worse than Purdue with their ATS record, going 6-4-1 in their last 11 games.

Final Thoughts on Kansas vs. Purdue Betting

The Boilermakers are 8-5-1 ATS against opponents who made the tournament, while Kansas is 7-6-1. Based on the first two rounds of play, many will bet on the Jayhawks here. But based on ATS trends, and the fact that Purdue is the toughest team Kansas has faced so far, we’d lay our money on the Boilermakers covering +5.

Final Score Prediction: Kansas wins 81-77

GTBets Newsletter March 25, 2016

How would you like a free half-point while betting on the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight? We’ll discuss how you can get a free half-point on the upcoming March Madness games. We’ll also cover a special March Madness reload bonus, MLB opening day, and a $50,000 slots tournament.

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