NCAA Tournament Betting: Our Top Potential Sweet 16 Upsets

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 2:42 PM GMT

Let’s look at two of coming games and make some NCAA Tournament picks for the Sweet 16 Round where a Point Spread underdog may actually win the game.

Big Dance Goes From 68 Teams to 16 in the Blink of An Eye
It’s funny how College Basketball teams play from November to February to try to make this prestigious NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and we all talk about it from Fall to Spring and then all of the hoopla comes down to seeing exactly who the 68 teams are that actually make the Big Dance and then it’s finally announced on Selection Sunday and those teams are all canonized like they washed the feet of peasants like Mother Teresa once did. And by the next Sunday (yesterday), there are just 16 teams left and we suddenly words like “Xavier,” “Iona,” “Stephen F. Austin” and “St. Bonaventure” evaporate from our lexicons until it’s October again. It’s nuts. Really. But at least we will be talking about the Musketeers, Gaels, Lumberjacks and Bonnies at some point in The Future whereas ever chirping about GOP Presidential candidates like Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Dr. Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina again is unlikely. And that’s a good thing. Players over politicians all day long sister. Anyway, 15 of the Sweet 16 teams are from the big Conferences while Gonzaga (West Coast Conference) is the only school representing the Little Guys as it’s really just March More Of The Same than it is March Madness, with the selection Committee always giving the nods to the bigger schools like Syracuse and Michigan while Little Guys Monmouth and St. Bonaventure wonder what the hell happened. It’s really fun to follow and root for teams like Yale, UALR, Northern Iowa, Tennessee Chattanooga and Weber State and the like , but it’s nearly impossible for these teams to get to the Final Four, let alone win the NCAA Championship. There are no more Larry Birds and Indiana States. When two or three McDonald’s All-Americans head to a Yale or a Northern Iowa, then we can talk, but the NCAA tournament odds of an underweight lavender elephant skateboarding up to your local 7-Eleven and paying for a Blue Slurpee® with a $2 bill are probably greater.

So we’re down to the Sweet 16 and this is when it gets harder for everyone involved, so try to work that philosophy into your betting Plan of Attack. The teams like Holy Cross and Middle Tennessee State are gone and now it’s all Big Boys vs. Big Boys as the Point Spreads reveal with a range of 1 to 6½ showing this parity. So picking an upset or making a big deal out of taking a team perceived to be, or made to be the Underdogs by the oddsmakers is nothing to brag about because this is where it gets nasty. The Big Ten’s Indiana (vs. East Region #1 Seed North Carolina) and Maryland (vs. South #1 Seed Kansas) seem like the only two teams who could brag about knocking someone off in this Round, and when you look at the names of the 16 teams left and in this Round, you can see why so many said that there are between 12-15 teams who have a legitimate chance of winning the NCAA Championship this season. This is anyone’s title to win this year with Syracuse probably the only team in the Field on paper that looks like it has absolutely no chance. Here are previews for two potential ATS upsets for the Sweet 16 round.

 

Villanova vs. Miami FL
Villanova (31-5 SU, 17-17-1 ATS) made it past the Round of 32 this year but this is where the rubber will meet the road for Josh Hart (15.4 ppg) and the Wildcats and taking 4½ (MGM Mirage) or 5 points and maybe taking Miami-Florida (27-7 SU, 19-13-1 ATS) on the Moneyline (+180, Wynn Las Vegas, CG Technology) seems worth a shot here in what could be a low-scoring and very physical game between the Big East and ACC. All of the Hurricanes losses this year have been to ACC teams except for one (Northeastern, 78-77) while Villanova’s (#5 RPI) five losses have all been to some pretty good teams in #7 Oklahoma, #4 Virginia, Providence, #9 Xavier and #20 Seton Hall in the Big East Conference Tournament—all five teams who made the Big Dance and two who are still dancing. So both these teams only lose to quality sides this season and Sheldon McClellan (16.0 ppg) and #3-seed Miami-Florida (#8 RPI) will not be intimidated by #2-seed Villanova and the Louisville site may end up favoring the Hurricanes by virtue of non-Villanova and non-Miami-Florida fans in attendance pulling for the underdog and the upset, like they almost always do.

The biggest key for Miami-Florida here will be in trying to stop Villanova (12/1 to win NCAA Championship, William Hill) from getting easy looks at the basket as the Wildcats rank 32nd in the nation in FG Percentage (47.4%). Hart (52-for-146 on 3’s), Kris Jenkins (88-for-235 on 3’s) and Ryan Arcidiacono (66-for-176 on 3’s) and Jalen Brunson (46-for-121 on 3’s) all like the pop from the outside so Miami (6-1 SU at Neutral Sites) will have to expend more energy on Defense and improve on its 122nd ranked 3-point Defense (33.5%) from the opening whistle. This should be a grinder and low-scoring game by nature for these two teams, as the situation is do-or-die and the site (and rims) unfamiliar to both. For the Hurricanes (28/1 to win NCAA Championship, Boylesports) to win, magical playmaking PG Angel Rodriguez (12.6 ppg, 4.4 apg) will have to be on his game and he, McClellan and Davon Reed (11.2 ppg, 39% on 3’s) will have to convert on the majority of their 3-point attempts as Villanova (6-2 SU at Neutral Sites) may have a better chance advancing in a Shootout as opposed to a Slugfest (Under 11-5-1 L17 Neutral Site Villanova games) and may force Miami into bombs away (Over 9-2 ATS L11 Miami NCAA Tournament games) game. In this series, the Hurricanes are 7-3 ATS the L10 and also a surprising 7-3 SU against Villanova, although these two haven’t met since 2004, making most of those Trends like stale beer in a 12-year old can. Worthless. This one should be close throughout and the 4½ or 5 points may seem like a lot in the end in a game Miami can win.

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Predicted Final Score: Villanova 57  Miami-Florida 55
NCAA Basketball Pick: Miami-Florida +4½
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Virginia vs. Iowa State
Malcolm Brogdon and #1-seed Virginia (28-7 SU, 18-14-1 ATS) have had a dream season and Head Coach Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers (#3 RPI) have hardened themselves on the rigorous ACC schedule but opponent Iowa State (23-11 SU, 17-13-1 ATS) and Georges Niang (20.2 ppg) can say the same exact thing, playing in the rugged Big 12. One possibly hidden edge here for the Cyclones (#23 RPI) will be the United Center (Chicago) site as more fans from Ames (Iowa) will be able to make the relatively short trip (384 miles, 5 hours) and any fans who are there with no specific rooting interest for either team will end up pulling for their Midwestern brethren, Iowa State. Corn recognizes corn, bruh. And Virginia (6/1 to win NCAA Championship, William Hill) may feel a little out of place in Illinois. However, the Cyclones are a thin team which really only go about seven deep but those seven are tremendous basketball players and have carried Iowa State (33/1 to win NCAA Championship, Stan James) this far and like The Little Engine That Could. Through stud Niang, Jameel McKay, Monte Morris, Abdel Nader, Deonte Burton, Hallice Cooke and Matt Thomas, this quirky team—coached by 1st-year man Steve Prohm—could actually win the National Championship this year and any team able to beat both (AP) #1 Kansas and #7 Oklahoma in an 8-day span ain’t scared of nobody, nowhere.
The last time these two met was back in 2010 an Iowa State prevailed (and covered), 60-47 in an extremely low-scoring affair which went way Under the Total. For those interested in backing the Cyclones on the Moneyline, the highest current (Monday afternoon) prices in the market are +210 and they’re all at the Las Vegas sportsbooks with no Offshore operators even dealing an (Iowa State) +200 (or higher) with the Silver State (Nevada) sportsbooks now showing Iowa State +210 on the Moneyline are William Hill, CG Technology, Wynn Las Vegas, Golden Nugget and Atlantis Reno. The Cavaliers (Under 12-3 ATS L15) may be due for a letdown after all they’ve been through and Iowa State (Under 10-3 ATS L13 Neutral Site Games, 8-3 L11 NCAA Tournament Games) was and is going to be a tough out for whomever they meet in the NCAA Tournament. This one will be can’t-miss television, even if a grinder type of game. These two gritty, hard-working teams are a combined 10-1-1 ATS in their L12 overall (Virginia 6-1-1 ATS, Iowa State 4-0-0 ATS) and are actually an awful lot like each other and have Hoops programs which probably deserve much more respect than they’ve received over the last decade or so. The culture of College Basketball has become pretty darn big in Charlottesville and Ames. Take Iowa State as the NCAA Tournament pick.

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Predicted Final Score: Iowa State 63  Virginia 60
NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa State +5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle