2023 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 betting tips and insights
Time to dance into the Sweet 16, and two No. 1 seeds remain – Alabama and Houston. Those top teams in the South and Midwest Region are joined by No. 2 Texas looking to get to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight and a chance to play in the Final Four in Houston. We'll evaluate the match-ups, leading online sportsbooks odds and chip-in some information you can bet on in the Sweet 16.
The Midwest Region has played mostly to form with No. 1 Houston and No. 2 Texas joined by No. 3 and No. 5 seeds, Xavier and Miami. For the first time, Las Vegas hosts a NCAA Tournament game, and the West Regional No. 2 seed UCLA takes on No. 3 Gonzaga in a most anticipated match-up. The East and West Region's No. 3 and No. 4 seeds are still dancing with Kansas State, Tennessee, Gonzaga and UCONN looking to make it to the Elite 8 this weekend as well.
I’ve chipped in some Sweet Sixteen coverage in Forbes, and also did a pair of interviews on CBS News ahead of the opening round and the Sweet Sixteen discussing the betting market and excitement of March Madness.
The Four Regional cities hosting Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games March 23-26 include:
- Louisville, KY (South) - KFC Yum! Center
- New York, NY (East) - Madison Square Garden
- Kansas City, MO (Midwest) - T-Mobile Center
- Las Vegas, NV (West) - T-Mobile Arena
Sweet 16 Matchups, Odds, TV Schedule
Betting lines, odds and over/under game totals by region courtesy of BetOnline Sportsbook. Odds are subject to change. All times Eastern.
Thursday, March 23
No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 7 Michigan State (-2) | Total: 137.5 | 6:30 p.m. | TBS (New York)
No. 9 Arkansas vs. No. 3 Connecticut (-3.5) | Total: 140 | 7:15 p.m. | CBS (Las Vegas)
No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 4 Tennessee (-5.5) | Total: 130.5 | 9:00 p.m. | TBS (New York)
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 UCLA (-2) | Total: 145.5 | 9:45 p.m. | CBS (Las Vegas)
Friday, March 24
No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Alabama (-7) | Total: 137 | 6:30 p.m. | TBS (Louisville)
No. 5 Miami vs. No. 1 Houston (-7) | Total: 138 | 7:15 p.m. | CBS (Kansas City)
No. 15 Princeton vs. No. 6 Creighton (-10) | Total: 140 | 9:00 p.m. | TBS (Louisville) *SuperBook odds
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 2 Texas (-4) | Total: 148.5 | 9:45 p.m. | CBS (Kansas City)
Conference record update 👀— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 21, 2023
How's your conference looking? #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/mAlhC577Ze
Sweet Sixteen Picks
I've been quite selective in my March Madness bets this year, and had my lightest opening day betting the tournament in many years. Friday I had a few bets including St. Mary's and a tough loss on Drake when they blew a late 8-point lead with Miami finishing the game on a 15-1 run. I did bet Tennessee as 'Dog in their outright win over Duke in the Round of 32, and that result was the best of the tournament so far for many top online sportsbooks.
I hammered home a pair of totals in the Round of 32 with with the Under 138 between top defensive team Texas in their 71-66 win over Penn State that included 18 points scored in the final 1:45. I tweeted to bet Over 146 in the Miami/Indiana game and the Hurricanes whipped the Hoosiers 85-69. Beyond all the stats and advanced metrics and models, you can get information from beat writers and coaches, like I gleaned from top coach of the Miami Hurricanes Jim Laranaga.
So far, I've got no more than 1-unit bets on UCLA (-1.5) over Gonzaga, but that line is up slightly. I also bet Xavier (+4.5) and Michigan State (pk) and both those lines have moved as well. I prefer UCLA's defense and Pac-12 Player of the Year to take out Gonzaga, even without the Bruins best defender.
One of the things I haven't gone in depth on in my keys to NCAA Tournament success is coaching. It's most important in college basketball, and we give a solid edge to Xavier and Michigan State in their Sweet Sixteen match-ups. Xavier's coaching edge and stronger offense and shooting especially from the arc gets the call, even against the stronger defense of Texas. And with Tom Izzo time to prepare against a first year head coach, I'll go with Sparty and their stronger offensive rebounding and Kansas State's sub-par (49.2%) defense on 2-point shots. Michigan State also has superior defense in free-throw rate (FT attempts/FG attempts) below 29%. All that and considering that the Wildcats have a dynamic pure point guard and all-tournament player leading the offense and top assist team in the Big 12.
I'll be adding some live betting during the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight. Check back for any other picks or opinions and also any information or bets I may tweet, @FairwayJay.
So far through the NCAA Tournament, including the First Four games, betting favorites are 35-17 and 26-25-1 ATS. Unders are still the most profitable in totals betting with an over/under mark of 17-35, or 17 overs and 35 unders.
Through the Round of 32, tournament teams have combined to shoot 31.2% from behind the arc. That’s the worst 3-point shooting in the NCAA Tournament since 2011 (Sports Reference).
We'll update the Elite Eight match-ups and odds upon completion of the Sweet Sixteen games.
Saturday, March 25 (Elite 8)
TBD vs. TBD live stream | 6 p.m. | TBS
TBD vs TBD | 8:30 p.m. | TBS
Sunday, March 26 (Elite 8)
TBD vs TBD | 2 p.m. | CBS
TBD vs TBD | 4:55 p.m. | CBS
Remaining Top Seeds
No. 1 seeds have won the last five NCAA Tournaments, and each of the last seven NCAA Tournament winners have had no more than seven (7) losses. Alabama and Houston could meet in the championship game coming from opposite sides of the bracket.
So #1 seeds are now 89-25 SU in the Sweet 16 (1-2 last year). That includes 74-25 SU vs. teams seeded #4 or #5 (1-2 last year). Until 2015, #1 seeds were getting bounced out of this round going back to 2010, but in the last seven editions (not including 2020 with no tournament) #1 seeds are 19-3 SU (1-2 last year) and 14-8 ATS (0-3 last year) in the Sweet 16 (or 14-7-1 as Gonzaga line closed -3 in 2017).
There is another statistical profile that points to #1 seeds being more vulnerable to losing against a #4 or #5 seed in the Sweet 16. It's a solid situation that uses scoring margin as another criteria in pointing to Sweet 16 winners.
- No. 1 Houston (+18.3)
- No. 1 Alabama (+14.1)
- No. 2 UCLA (+13.9)
- No. 4 UCONN (+13.8)
- No. 4 Tennessee (+13.4)
- No. 3 Gonzaga (+12.4)
- No. 9 Florida Atlantic (+12.4)
Top #1 seeded teams with a scoring margin of less than 14 points per game are more likely to get knocked off by a #4 or #5 seed. But both Houston and Alabama are +14 or better in scoring margin this season and through the NCAA Tournament.
Last year, No. 1 Gonzaga had a +21.8 scoring margin and lost to No. 4 Arkansas in the Sweet Sixteen. So all bets are off on the No. 1 seeds and we're watching with interest and actually pulling for both underdogs San Diego State and Miami.
Adjusted Odds to Win 2023 NCAA Championship
Odds from BetOnline and Sportsbetting.ag
- Alabama (+300) - Michigan State (+2500)
- Houston (+425) - Kansas State (+2800)
- Texas (+750) - San Diego State (+3500)
- UCLA (+850) - Xavier (+4000)
- Connecticut (+900) - Arkansas (+4000)
- Creighton (+1000) - Miami (+5000)
- Gonzaga (+1200) - Florida Atlantic (+5000)
- Tennessee (+1200) - Princeton (+15000)
Check back for additional stats, updates and information you can bet on.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and insightful analyst with proven winning results including in college basketball. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay