NCAA Tournament Picks: Friday’s Sweet 16 Underdog Value Plays

Ross Benjamin

Friday, March 25, 2016 3:14 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 25, 2016 3:14 PM UTC

Our NCAA Basketball analyst takes a look at all four NCAA Tournament underdogs on Friday’s card. Go inside to read about his findings before making your NCAA Basketball picks.

Iowa State vs. Virginia 7:10 PM ET
Iowa State is a very good perimeter shooting team capable of putting up impressive offensive numbers. However, they’re front line players are undersized making them vulnerable in the rebounding department. The Cyclones also have shortcomings defensively, and especially so when they face top quality opposition.

Virginia can be one of the most frustrating teams to play against, and especially so if you haven’t faced them on a regular basis. The Cavaliers are excellent defensively. When Virginia jumps out to sizable leads they’re one of the toughest teams in college basketball to mount a comeback against.

I see no underdog value in this contest despite a rather sizable and enticing number. My advice is to steer clear of Iowa State when making one of your Friday NCAA Tournament picks.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Virginia -6
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame 7:25 PM ET
The current NCAA Tournament betting odds at Bookmaker have Wisconsin as a 1.5 point underdog in this contest. There’s not much to discuss in terms of underdog betting value when the number is so short. There’s been a steady influx of money that’s been wagered on Notre Dame during the past 24 hours. This game is an extremely tough call in my eyes, and offers no point spread value on the NCAA Tournament odds board for either side.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Notre Dame -1.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


Gonzaga vs. Syracuse 9:40 PM ET
Gonzaga has looked terrific in their two NCAA Tournament blowout wins over Seton Hall and Utah. However, Seton Hall is an extremely young team that was just coming off an emotional run in capturing the Big East Tournament title. The Pirates were primed for a letdown having to play just five days later. The only PAC-12 team that’s had any success in this NCAA Tournament is Oregon, and that’s the same Ducks team which absolutely hammered Utah in the PAC-12 Tournament. I certainly not trying to make light of Gonzaga’s recent accomplishments, but there are variables that must be considered.

Gonzaga will be facing an opponent tonight that’s been equally impressive in the first two rounds. Syracuse beat Dayton by 19 and Middle Tennessee State by 25. This Syracuse team is playing with a chip on their shoulders, and that comes as a result of receiving so much criticism from national media members for even being invited to “The Big Dance”. They’ve be terrific defensively in the tournament thus far, allowing 50.5 points per game, and holding its opponents to a paltry 30.9% shooting. They’re vaunted 2-3 zone defense has been operating at peak level, and it’s difficult to simulate during a practice setting in terms of future opponent’s preparation. There’s plenty of underdog betting value to be had in this contest.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse +5
Best Line Offered: at Bovada


Indiana vs. North Carolina 9:55 PM ET
North Carolina was a bit fortunate against Providence in regards to defending the three point line. The Friars missed several wide open looks from beyond the arc. North Carolina will be flirting with disaster if they allow those uncontested opportunities against Indiana. The Hoosiers aren’t only #2 nationally in offensive field goal percentage (50.5%), but are also #5 in offensive three point shooting percentage (41.5%). North Carolina had the luxury of playing the first two rounds in Raleigh, and that’s just a 25 minute drive from their campus. Playing in Philadelphia won’t offer the same type of home cooking.

Indiana is one of a handful of teams nationally that can hold their own against North Carolina on the boards. North Carolina’s front line is more athletic compared to Indiana’s big men, but the Hoosiers are fundamentally sound in that area nonetheless. Indiana’s highly touted center Thomas Bryant must stay out of foul trouble. Bryant has been prone to personal foul issues during this his freshmen season. The ability to knock down three point shots is a great equalizer for college basketball underdogs. Indiana’s ability to do just that gives them a realistic chance at keeping this game close throughout its entirety, or even possibly pulling an outright upset and reach the Elite Eight.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Indiana +5.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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