The first weekend of the 2023 NCAA Tournament lived up to its billing, with Farleigh Dickinson becoming the second-ever No. 16 seed to shock a No. 1 seed while Princeton kept the streak of a No. 15 seed in the Sweet 16 for a third consecutive year.
Congratulations to those who cashed in on the FDU (+1600) and Princeton (+750) moneylines this past weekend. We’ll tip our hats, as those were the last two upsets we saw coming.
For bettors trying to gauging how to approach wagering on this weekend’s Sweet 16 matchups, we’ve compiled three best bets and two parlays to consider adding to your bet slips.
While we’d love to find a massive live underdog with moneyline odds north of 7-1, that’s not the case in the Sweet 16, as every spread is within single digits, meaning there aren’t any crazy moneyline prices in the betting market. Princeton does come in as the biggest underdog at +400, and while we could choose to ride the red-hot Tigers, we think their Cinderella run ends against Creighton.
What are the best bets for the Sweet 16? Sporting News has you covered with our advice and picks to take a chance on as March Madness gears up for its second weekend.
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March Madness odds for Sweet 16
Below are the current March Madness odds for the Sweet 16, including point spreads, money lines, and over-under totals for every game, via BetMGM.
|Kansas State vs. Michigan State||Michigan State -1.5 (-115); Kansas State +1.5 (-105)||Michigan State -130; Kansas State +110||137.5|
|Connecticut vs. Arkansas||Connecticut -3.5 (-115); Arkansas +3.5 (-105)||Connecticut -185; Arkansas +150||140.5|
|Tennessee vs. Florida Atlantic||Tennessee -5.5 (-115); Florida Atlantic +5.5 (-105)||Tennessee -275; Florida Atlantic +210||130.5|
|UCLA vs. Gonzaga||UCLA -2.5 (-110); Gonzaga +2.5 (-110)||UCLA -135; Gonzaga +115||145.5|
|Alabama vs. San Diego State||Alabama -7.5 (-105); San Diego State +7.5 (-115)||Alabama -375; San Diego State +280||136.5|
|Houston vs. Miami||Houston -7.5 (-105); Miami +7.5 (-115)||Houston -350; Miami +260||137.5|
|Creighton vs. Princeton||Creighton -9.5 (-115); Princeton +9.5 (-105)||Creighton -550; Princeton +400||140.5|
|Texas vs. Xavier||Texas -4.5 (-105); Xavier +4.5 (-115)||Texas -190; Xavier +155||148.5|
March Madness best bets for Sweet 16
Tennessee -5.5 (-110) vs. Florida Atlantic
Tennessee’s in a great position to advance to its first Final Four in school history, even without lead guard Zakai Zeigler (knee) running the Vols offense.
Despite the Volunteers’ sporting the nation’s 196th-best effective field goal percentage (50.2 percent), Tennessee’s elite defense can lead the Vols to a multi-possession win over the Owls.
Tennessee still dons the nation’s most efficient defense per KenPom (87 points allowed per 100 possessions), as their elite perimeter and interior defense likely gives the Owls’ fits over 40 minutes.
Florida Atlantic is the smallest team left in the field relative to its average height, and while we saw the smallest team in D-1 take down the top-seeded Boilermakers in the Round of 64, we won’t see Florida Atlantic sandwich Tennessee’s frontcourt pieces like FDU did to Zach Edey. Tennessee simply has too many bodies and figures to wear the Owls down as the game progresses.
While the Owls’ 33-3 record might scare bettors away from fading them, they’ve yet to play a KenPom top-10 team, as Tennessee (KenPom No. 6) is the most complete team the Owls will face to date.
Kansas State moneyline (+110) vs. Michigan State
We’re not going to make the mistake of fading Jerome Tang’s Wildcats in Sweet 16, even with Kansas State’s facing off against a perennial NCAA Tournament powerhouse program in Michigan State.
While the Spartans impressed in the first weekend, taking out 10th-seeded USC by 10 and second-seeded Marquette by nine, Kansas State will have the two best players on the court in First-team All-Big 12 selections Markquis Nowell and Keyonate Johnson.
In crunch time, we want to be on the side of Nowell and Johnson, as their elite shot-creating ability should stress the Spartans’ defense in the final minutes. Michigan State’s a tough team to fade right now, but we’re still not forgetting their no-show in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals against Ohio State less than two weeks ago.
Gonzaga +2.5 (-110) vs. UCLA
Thursday night’s clash between the Bulldogs and Bruins will be a doozy, and what better way to make the game more excitable than to make a wager on it?
It’s rare to see the Zags in the underdog role, as Thursday marks just the third time the Bulldogs will be ‘dogs this season. Gonzaga has gone 0-2 straight up in those games (at Texas, at Saint Mary’s), but neither were on a neutral floor. Yes, early money came in on the Bruins, moving them from -1.5 to -2.5, but we’re fading the steam and betting on the team that is rarely pegged as underdogs.
We understand that this year’s Gonzaga team doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as seasons past, but at the end of the day, they’re still Gonzaga. We like the Zags chances of making a deep tournament run now that most of the nation’s counting them out, and getting 2.5 points in a game we feel should be priced closer to a pick ’em is an auto bet for us.
Sure, a lot’s changed since these schools met in the 2021 Final Four and in Las Vegas last non-conference season, but in those games, the Zags closed as 14.5- and seven-point favorites for both neutral-site games. UCLA’s a damn good team who will push the Zags to the brink, but we’re taking the Bulldogs and the points.
NCAA TOURNAMENT BETTING PREVIEWS:
UCLA-Gonzaga | Michigan State-Kansas State | Houston-Miami
March Madness best parlays for Sweet 16
Kansas State-Michigan State OVER 137.5 and Arkansas-Connecticut UNDER 140.5 (+256)
For those totals bettors out there, we have you covered with a two-legged parlay that pays 2.56-1. Even though Michigan State sits well below the D-1 mean in average offensive possession length, we think Kansas State’s uptempo offense forces the Spartans into a track meet, making the OVER 137.5 an enticing wager.
Conversely, we’re expecting more of a half-court game in Arkansas-Connecticut, with consistent shot-making being hard to come by. Arkansas’ offense hasn’t been great this season, but the Razorbacks are relentless on the defensive end, ranking 15th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Although Connecticut boasts the nation’s third-most efficient offense, Arkansas has enough length to disrupt them, and we don’t think the Huskies maintain their elite three-point shooting outputs they enjoyed this past weekend. The Hogs will find a way to take Jordan Hawkins out of his rhythm, a welcomed sign for UNDER 140.5 bettors.
Kansas State moneyline and Gonzaga moneyline (+351)
We’ve already detailed why we like Kansas State and Gonzaga, so why not throw both teams into an underdog moneyline parlay that pays 3.51-1?
One could make a case that both teams should be favored, so we’ll gladly take advantage of the plus sign next to both teams’ names.