There are a few surprises among his free NCAA basketball picks to make the Sweet 16, but our fearless forecaster has all four No. 1 seeds surviving through this weekend.
History was made 10 years ago when San Antonio last hosted the Final Four and NCAA Men’s Championship. For those too young to remember or might have forgotten, the 2008 tourney was the one and only time all four No. 1 seeds reached the Final Four, culminating with Kansas taking out Memphis in overtime for the title.
I’m not suggesting we are going to see a repeat of that when the Final Four returns to Alamo City in a couple of weeks. College basketball futures certainly don’t expect such an outcome. Villanova (+600) and Virginia (+650) are at the top of the list among this year’s No. 1 seeds, but Kansas (+1200) and Xavier (+1500) are further down the chart. I do, however, like all four No. 1s to make it to the Sweet 16.
Cougars Claw Their Way To Upset Of Michigan In West
Let’s start in the South, where overall No. 1 Virginia resides. Favored by 23½ in their opener against UMBC, the Cavaliers will get past Kansas State in Round 2 to play on next week in Atlanta. There, Virginia meets No. 4 Arizona for a slot in the Elite Eight. The double-Wildcats matchup between Arizona and Kentucky should be a doozy. In the lower half of the South, I remain sold on No. 2 seed Cincinnati to play deep, and have the Bearcats meeting Tennessee in the Sweet 16 after the Volunteers dispatch Wright State and Loyola-Chicago. Yes, that’s right, I have the Ramblers upsetting Miami in the opening round.
Out West, I have another 1/4 matchup ahead in the Sweet 16 with top seed Xavier taking on last year’s national runner-up, Gonzaga. A lot of folks are on Michigan to reach the Final Four, but my bracket shows No. 6 Houston upsetting those plans in Round 2 to get the Cougars to LA’s Staples Center next week. No. 10 Providence, a 3-point underdog on the college basketball odds vs Texas A&M in the opening round, will meet No. 2 North Carolina this weekend with the defending champion Tar Heels filling out the South’s four finalists.
Duke & Michigan State On Course For Rematch In Sweet 16
Back East, Villanova is on the top line and easily gets by play-in winner Radford before winning a tough one over No. 9 Alabama to move on to Boston. The Wildcats’ first opponent in the regionals will be No. 4 Wichita State after the Shockers go through Marshall and West Virginia. The bottom side of the East begins with a shocker in its own right as I have No. 11 play-in winner St. Bonaventure reaching the Sweet 16 after first topping Florida and then Texas Tech. The bracket finishes with No. 2 Purdue in a close call vs. No. 10 Butler in Round 2.
Rounding out the Sweet 16 from the Midwest will be No. 1 Kansas after the Jayhawks cruise past Penn and Seton Hall. No. 5 Clemson is my March Madness pick to square off with KU in Omaha next week, the Tigers getting there by beating New Mexico State and Auburn. Down on the Midwest’s bottom lines, chalk eventually prevails and everyone gets the rematch they want when No. 2 Duke takes on No. 3 Michigan State in the Sweet 16. Those two met back early in the season at Chicago’s United Center, where the Blue Devils enjoyed a minor upset with an 88-81 win getting 1½ from SBR’s top books.
Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.