Sweet 16 Betting Preview: Tips and Predictions From Our Experts

Duke enters the Sweet 16 as underdogs vs. Texas Tech
(Image Credit: Imagn)

The Sweet 16 tips off Thursday night, so we touched base with our CBB experts for some betting tips and NCAA Tournament bracket predictions going forward. Make sure to check out our BetMGM bonus code for a $1000 risk-free bet during March Madness.

Sweet 16 Expert Betting Tips and Predictions

What is your favorite Sweet 16 bet against the spread?

Ebeimfohr: Gonzaga -9.5 over an Arkansas team with some of the worst shot quality in the country. They won’t be able to skate by with athleticism against the best team in the country.

Feartheturtle: Kansas -7.5 over a Providence team that keeps finding a way to win games and advance. That comes to an end in a big way this week.

Varncass: Michigan +5 vs Villanova, who I think is a bit overrated and has no one to match up with Dickinson in the middle

Use our NCAAB odds page to compare betting lines from across the industry.

What is your favorite Sweet 16 over/under bet?

Ebeimfohr: Texas Tech/Duke Under 137. Almost anytime I get the opportunity to get a Texas Tech total that requires a game to be played in the 70s to go over, I’m going to like the under. But I think Texas Tech’s “no middle on steroids” defense is set up to take away the interior game of both Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams, which puts the onus on the outside shooters. While Duke has shot it well this year, outside of AJ Griffin I don’t think any of their perimeter players are guys you fear shooting the basketball, especially in the sweet 16. 

Feartheturtle: Houston/Arizona Over 145 in what should be a situation where Houston is going to have to outscore the Wildcats. Arizona played at a really fast pace (5th in tempo) and has scored 80+ in each of their last 9 home or neutral site games. While Houston will slow them down some, I certainly think this game is played into the 70s. 

Varncass: Saint Peter’s/Purdue u134.5. Peter’s has a pretty bad offense and we generally see these Cinderella runs end at this stage. I am struggling to see how their undersized team scores against a very large Purdue interior, and the Peacocks still have an extremely solid defensive gameplan. I think they can hold Purdue down, but will struggle to score and with the large spread we are unlikely to see a foul parade at the end.

Are the Peacocks for real?

Ebeimfohr: Yes and no. The defense is undoubtedly for real, and we knew that coming in. They have a legitimately stout defense, not just for a mid major, but for any team in the country. They play slow as well, which can help crank up the variance in games in the tournament. On offense, they also run somewhat of a Princeton style offense that takes advantage of tons of back door cuts, off ball cuts and extremely well designed actions that frankly not a lot of teams see anymore. I think that combination of defense, pace and uniqueness/fundamental soundness on offense, plus some pretty unsustainable shot-making, has allowed them to shock 2 really good teams.

Feartheturtle: Sure! Why not? We knew coming in they would play solid defense and they have a profile that does not resemble a typical 15 seed (Top 30 defense in country). Now they get a situation where they face elite size/girth (Edey/Trevion) and elite talent (Ivey) – so the test is on. I don’t expect them to advance, but I think they will be competitive and if they can hit their threes it could come down to the wire.  

Varncass: They are a fantastic story and stuff that we dream about happening when seeing brackets come out. Their interior defense is fantastic, but they struggle offensively and have benefited by shooting 52 free throws in their first two games. Left to their own devices, they will struggle to keep up with a Purdue team that has a unicorn in Edey – how does Ndefo actually stop someone who is nearly a foot taller?

What futures bet has the best value heading into Thursday?

Ebeimfohr: I think targeting both the East and the Midwest regions can be advantageous. With so many top seeds out, there’s value in some of these lower seeded teams. Everyone knows Providence has been “lucky” this season, but they are just +250 against Kansas on the ML in the Sweet 16, however they’re +650 to win the East Region. If they do happen to get by Kansas, they are rated higher in KenPom than both Miami and Iowa St., so you’d have the likely small favorite to win that game at +650. 

Feartheturtle: Kansas +425 to Win the tournament is the best value on the board I think, especially given their clear path to the final 4. However, at this point in the tourney, I am generally not trying to get involved in any more CBB futures.

Varncass: Gonzaga +220 has barely changed since the opening of the tournament. I don’t think Arkansas can hang with them and they should be heavily favored against Duke or Texas Tech. If you liked them before the tournament you should like them here.

What were you most right about so far?

Ebeimfohr: Certainly have not been my most accurate tournament, but I’m going to say the Big 10. Purdue and Michigan have looked strong, but Michigan had to come from behind fairly late in both games to get here. Meanwhile, the rest of the Big 10 showed us why I & others thought they were pretty overrated. Illinois should have lost to Chattanooga, and then got largely demolished by Houston. Iowa was upset in the 1st round by a team that wasn’t even really a tournament caliber team. The conference led the nation with 9 teams in the tournament, and they’re extremely lucky to even have 2 standing, and I think their performance showed them to be pretty overrated.

Feartheturtle: Not as much as I’d hoped, but certainly thought that two somewhat under the radar powerhouses in UCLA & Villanova would just easily make their way to the second weekend – which did happen. Both of these teams are well coached and have plenty of tournament experience. At this point, I think they both win their regions.  

Varncass: The B12 is the best conference in America as they nearly had 5 teams in the Sweet 16 (TCU and Baylor lost in OT) and Texas played Purdue close for a while (and was nearly a coinflip in that game). 

What were you most wrong about?

Ebeimfohr: It feels like forever ago since they lost, but Kentucky. I really thought they had everything you need in a team to dominate March, and not only was that completely wrong, but they lost to a freaking 15 seed. 

Feartheturtle: I felt really good about Auburn making the Elite 8 relatively easily, but they got their doors blown off by Miami in surprising fashion. I knew their volatile guard play was a liability but did not see that coming so early in the tournament. 

Varncass: I thought Auburn had a free pass to the Elite Eight and never would have thought Miami would beat them – they destroyed a ton of my brackets. I also didn’t get any of my first round upset potentials right, which is unusual as I usually get one or two of the three I play.

What’s your hot take of the Elite 8 Saturday/Sunday?

Ebeimfohr: I mentioned it as my favorite spread above, but going even further I think the Zags absolutely destroy Arkansas by 25.

Feartheturtle: Probably not much of a hot take, but I think UCLA will be playing Purdue – and they beat them by 15+. 

Varncass: Texas Tech destroys Duke, and Michigan wins comfortably against Villanova.

Now that some of the dominoes have fallen, who are you picking to come out of each region?

Ebeimfohr: Gonzaga / UCLA (assuming Jaquez’s ankle is ok) / Houston / Kansas

Feartheturtle: Gonzaga / UCLA / Villanova / Kansas (still 3 of my 4 original final four with UCLA taking the place of my previous choice Kentucky losing). 

Varncass: Gonzaga/Purdue/Arizona/Kansas