Weekly Betting Edge: Betting on the Sweet 16 Region by Region

David Schwab

Monday, March 19, 2018 2:02 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 19, 2018 2:02 PM UTC

In six furious days of NCAA basketball betting, the 68-team field for this year’s NCAA Tournament has been paired down to the final four in each of the four regions. Known as the Sweet 16 Round coming up Thursday and Friday, betting on this tournament has taken a very interesting turn.

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South Region

Upsets are a big part of this ‘win or go home’ event, but things have gotten a bit out of control in the South. The top seed left on the board is Kentucky at No. 5. NCAA Tournament history was made when No. 1 Virginia lost to No. 16 UMBC in the opening round as a 20-point favorite. No. 4 Arizona was another "‘one and done" with a loss to Buffalo. In the bottom half of this bracket, No. 2 Cincinnati could not get past No. 7 Nevada and No. 3 Tennessee fell to No. 11 Loyola-Chicago.

Looking at the opening odds for the next two games in the South, I am going chalk with Kentucky straight-up and against the spread as a six-point favorite against Kansas State. However, I will continue to ride one of the top Cinderellas into the Elite Eight with Loyola-Chicago keeping its Big Dance alive as two-point underdogs against Nevada.

East Region

Moving across the NCAA Tournament bracket to the East, three of the top four seeds in this region lived up to expectations. The only exception was No. 4 Wichita State, which never got past the opening round in a stunning 81-75 loss to No. 13 Marshall as a 13.5-point favorite.

Next up is a matchup between No. 1 Villanova and No. 5 West Virginia, with the Wildcats favored by five points. The top seed won its first two games by a combined 49 points, and I do not see the Mountaineers keeping this game closer than five points.

The other semifinal matchup in the East pits No. 3 Texas Tech against No. 2 Purdue as a slight 1.5-point underdog. I had the Red Raiders making an early exit in this tournament, but they have shown the midseason form that helped them earn a three seed out of the Big 12. Purdue will miss injured center Isaac Haas in this matchup in a SU loss.

Midwest Region

Moving to the bottom right of the bracket, No. 3 Michigan State was sent packing in the second round by Syracuse and No. 4 Auburn had no answer for Clemson in a lopsided 84-53 second-round loss as a slight 1.5-point favorite.

The early results in this region set the table for a potential monster showdown in the Elite Eight between No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Duke. The Jayhawks are four-point favorites against Clemson in what could be a tough battle to the final buzzer. Take the Tigers and the points but take the Jayhawks to advance.

The Blue Devils have been opened as heavy 11-point favorites against upstart Syracuse, which has already won three games in this tournament as an underdog. These two ACC foes met once in the regular season, with Duke cruising to a 60-44 victory as a 13.5-point home favorite. Bet the Orange to cover this time around but take the Blue Devils SU.

West Region

Most experts did not expect No. 1 Xavier to make a deep run out of the West and its NCAA Tournament came to an end with Sunday’s 75-70 loss to No. 9 Florida State as a 5.5-point favorite. No. 2 North Carolina is also going home early after losing to No. 7 Texas A&M 86-65 as a seven-point favorite.

The early upsets in this region have No. 3 Michigan on a collision course to face No. 4 Gonzaga for a trip to the Final Four. I already picked the Wolverines to make it that far, so I will lay the three points against Texas A&M with a play on Michigan both SU and ATS.

I also had Gonzaga facing Michigan in Elite Eight showdown, so I am going chalk again both SU and ATS with the Bulldogs sitting as 5.5-point favorites against Florida State.

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