March Madness: Sweet 16 Betting Preview
The third round of the NCAA Tournament gets underway Thursday with the first four of eight scheduled Sweet 16 games. Two No. 1 seeds (Purdue and Kansas) have already been eliminated from the tournament, while Princeton is still alive with hopes of being the second-ever No. 15 seed to make the Elite 8 after Saint Peter's University accomplished the feat in 2022.
Action begins Thursday with No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Kansas State. The other matchups Thursday are as follows: No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 4 Connecticut, No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 4 Tennessee, and No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 UCLA.
Friday's games are: No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Miami vs. No. 1 Houston, No. 15 Princeton vs. No. 6 Creighton, and No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 2 Texas.
NCAA Tournament Outright Odds
Must-Bet Sweet 16 Games
Michigan State vs. Kansas State (Thursday)
The opening game of the Sweet 16 has the potential to be the best of the eight games. Michigan State has taken down Marquette and USC en route to the Sweet 16, while Kansas State has taken care of business against Kentucky and Montana State.
Michigan State, despite being the lower seed, is a two-point favorite. However, it'd be wise to bet on the Wildcats here as they have the feel of a team of destiny right now, especially with the way guard Markquis Nowell is playing. The 5-foot-8 guard has 44 points on 14-of-26 shooting through the first two games of the NCAA Tournament.
San Diego State vs. Alabama (Friday)
The Aztecs are 7.5 underdogs against the Crimson Tide, which is plenty of cushion to expect them to cover. San Diego State is 9-1 in their last 10 games and haven't lost by more than nine points since an 87-70 loss to Arizona on November 22. They made easy work of No. 13 Furman in the second round.
Alabama, meanwhile, has yet to be tested as the No. 1 seed and could come into Friday's game unprepared. The Crimson Tide have outscored their first two opponents (Maryland and Texas A&M Corpus Christi) by a combined score of 169-126.
Xavier vs. Texas (Friday)
The final game of the Sweet 16 schedule sees Xavier play Texas. The Longhorns haven't reached the Elite 8 since 2008, while Xavier reached the Elite 8 as the No. 11 seed in 2017. Xavier also reached the Elite 8 in 2008 with Texas; they lost to UCLA while the Longhorns lost to Memphis.
These are two of the highest scoring teams left in the tournament. Xavier ranks 11th in the country with 81.2 PPG, while Texas averages 77.8 PPG. Texas is a four-point favorite and the over/under is 149. Texas averaged 76 points through its first two games in the tournament and Xavier averaged 78, so the over looks enticing here.
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