Skip to main content
RJ Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels handles the ball against Tre Holloman of the Michigan State Spartans during the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. We're back North Carolina and Davis in our Sweet 16 expert picks.
RJ Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels handles the ball against Tre Holloman of the Michigan State Spartans during the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images via AFP.

We're making our Sweet 16 expert picks, based on the best odds from our best March Madness betting sites with the NCAA Tournament's third round tipping off Thursday.

After the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, there are just 16 teams remaining with many March Madness upset picks leading to busted March Madness bracket predictions. Even so, a predictable second round has led to one of the most chalky NCAA Tournaments in recent memory, with 12 of the remaining teams a top-four seed.

As we prepare for the Sweet 16, our experts look at their favorite bets for each game and analyze the matchups to make predictions based on the March Madness odds from our best sports betting sites

Don't forget to check out our Sweet 16 odds and betting lines and our March Madness survivor picks.

Sweet 16 expert picks

Picks made by C Jackson Cowart and Rob Paul; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale.

Clemson vs. Arizona picksThursday at 7:09 p.m. ET (CBS)Clemson +7.5 (-110 via BetMGM) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Oumar Ballo Over 10.5 rebounds (+102 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
San Diego State vs. UConn picksThursday at 7:39 p.m. ET (TBS)UConn -10.5 (-110 via Caesars) ⭐⭐⭐Donovan Clingan Over 1.5 blocks (+125 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Alabama vs. North Carolina picksThursday at 9:39 p.m. ET (CBS)UNC -3.5 (-120 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐RJ Davis Over 23.5 points (-105 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
Illinois vs. Iowa State picksThursday at 10:09 p.m. ET (TBS)Iowa State -1.5 (-108 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐Tamin Lipsey Over 1.5 made 3-pointers (+160 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐
NC State vs. Marquette picksFriday at 7:09 p.m. ET (CBS)Marquette -6 (-110 via Caesars) ⭐⭐⭐Kam Jones Over 2.5 made 3-pointers (+100 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Gonzaga vs. Purdue picksFriday at 7:39 p.m. ET (TBS)Gonzaga +5.5 (-110 via BetMGM) ⭐⭐⭐⭐Graham Ike Under 7.5 rebounds (-114 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐
Duke vs. Houston picksFriday at 9:39 p.m. ET (CBS)Duke +4.5 (-118 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐Jamal Shead Over 6.5 assists (+100 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Creighton vs. Tennessee picksFriday at 10:09 p.m. ET (TBS)Creighton +2.5 (-108 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Dalton Knecht Over 20.5 points (-113 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐

Not intended for use in MA
Affiliate disclosure:
 Sportsbook Review may receive advertising commissions for visits to a sportsbook

bet365 Sweet 16 promo

bet365 is giving all eligible U.S. users $25 in bonus bets when wagering $50 or more on parlays and SGPs. Just click here!

Sweet 16 predictions: Thursday

Clemson vs. Arizona

Nobody expected Clemson to make it this far, and its win over No. 3 seed Baylor was one of the biggest upsets of the Round of 32. However, the fun stops now for the Tigers with Arizona being one of just two teams left in the NCAA Tournament to rank top 10 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom - the only other team is UConn, the March Madness odds favorite.

The Tigers face a defensive challenge in containing All-American Caleb Love, whose scoring ability poses a significant threat. Relying heavily on undersized forward PJ Hall and guard Joseph Girard, Clemson encounters tough matchups against Arizona's defensive stalwarts Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson.

-- Rob Paul SBR | Twitter/X

San Diego State vs. UConn

In a rematch of the 2023 NCAA Tournament championship, No. 1 seed UConn is poised to come out victorious once again. No team in the country has been better than the Huskies this season with the second-ranked offense in adjusted efficiency and the ninth-ranked defense.

With Donovan Clingan anchoring the paint, UConn should be able to slow down Jaedon LeDee, San Diego State's only consistent source of offense. Without LeDee doing damage, the defense-first Aztecs are going to struggle to score points. And they'll only be able to keep Huskies guards Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer down for so long. UConn is the biggest favorite of the Sweet 16 for a reason.

-- Paul

Alabama vs. North Carolina

This line has moved toward UNC as we get closer to tipoff, but FanDuel is still offering -3.5 at a tolerable -118 odds for a matchup that plays right into North Carolina's hands.

The Crimson Tide love to push the pace, but that's when R.J. Davis and the Tar Heels' explosive guards are at their best, while star center Armando Bacot is a matchup nightmare for Alabama in the half court. We could see some major swings in a game with so many possessions, but expect that extra volume to eventually favor the better team on Thursday.

-- C Jackson Cowart SBR | Twitter/X

Illinois vs. Iowa State

In this matchup between the nation's No. 1 offense (Illinois) and No. 1 defense (Iowa State), my money is on the Cyclones to dictate the pace and control this matchup with their suffocating defense that has vexed teams all season long.

T.J. Otzelberger's group has already forced 28 turnovers through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, and I don't see that recipe changing against the Illini, who feature one star scorer in Terrence Shannon but remain at their best when their secondary pieces are rolling. Without their usual space to operate, I don't see Illinois' supporting cast surviving their toughest test of the season.

-- Cowart

Sweet 16 predictions: Friday

NC State vs. Marquette

It's hard to call NC State's Sweet 16 run a Cinderella story given the program has won two NCAA Tournament titles, but it is the only double-digit seed left in March Madness. Despite the Wolfpack's magical run through the ACC Tournament and first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, it's going to come to an end against Marquette. 

NC State is the only program still alive that ranks outside the top 40 in both offensive and defensive efficiency and it's playing a Golden Eagle program hitting its stride. Behind guards Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones, Marquette looks like it should be a Final Four odds favorite. Those two have combined to average 42.5 points and 12.5 assists per game during the tournament.

-- Paul

Gonzaga vs. Purdue

Purdue has looked like an unstoppable force in this year's tournament, with 7-4 center Zach Edey leading the way as the clear front-runner by the March Madness MVP odds. I'm not so sure the Boilermakers will enjoy the same success in their second game against Gonzaga.

Embed content I4zl58-nR3A image

The Bulldogs feature enough size in their frontcourt rotation to throw bodies at Edey and make him uncomfortable, just as they've done to deter interior scoring all season long. These teams have been virtually identical from an efficiency standpoint over the last two months, and I'll gladly take the points in what should be a thrilling contest.

-- Cowart

Duke vs. Houston

While Houston barely escaped with an overtime win over Texas A&M in the second round, this is still the best defense in the country - the Cougars hold teams to just 57.7 points per game. They pose a unique challenge for a Duke team that's gotten sporadic play out of its guards, too.

Not only does Houston's guard trio of Jamal Shead, LJ Cryer, and Emanuel Sharp frustrate opponents, but they've been on an offensive tear through the first two games of the tournament. Those three are averaging a combined 56 points per game, while Shead has been dishing out 9.5 assists per game. The Blue Devils beat up on two mid-majors in the tournament thus far; playing Houston is a totally different animal.

-- Paul

Creighton vs. Tennessee

Heading into the tournament, Creighton caught my attention as perhaps the most undervalued team in the entire field. That remains true heading into this underdog spot against Tennessee, which has scrapped its way to two uninspiring wins.

If the Volunteers' offense doesn't heat up in a hurry, I have serious doubts about Rick Barnes' group finding room inside against the Bluejays, led by elite shot-blocker Ryan Kalkbrenner and a rotation that excels at avoiding fouls and forcing tough shots. With a deep and versatile offense, to boot, Creighton should be able to win this game outright.

-- Cowart

March Madness betting odds pages

Here are our best March Madness betting sites:

(21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER)
* Bonuses not applicable in Ontario.

Related pages