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Best Sweet Sixteen Bets: Day 1

Arizona Wildcats guard Kylan Boswell (4) reacts after defeating the Dayton Flyers in the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena-Delta Center.

After the first weekend of March Madness, many fans were disappointed in the lack of upsets in the first two rounds. But, few upsets have set up a great group of evenly-matched teams for this weekend’s Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight. With so many teams close in talent, it may be hard to tell who you should bet on. Have no fear; here are the best bets for the first day of the Sweet Sixteen (odds via BetMGM).

Best Sweet Sixteen Bets: Day 1

Arizona vs Clemson

Both teams had relatively easy first weekends in the tournament. Arizona won its first game by 20 and its second by 10. Clemson won in the first round by 21 and pulled an upset against third-seeded Baylor in the second round. Now, they are set to square off in what should be an entertaining Sweet Sixteen matchup.

But this one is going to be all Wildcats. They have been a dominant team all season and Clemson struggled before the NCAA tournament. With almost a week to rest, I expect Arizona to come out and dominate.

Best Bet: Arizona -7.5

San Diego State vs UConn

Don’t overthink this one. UConn is by far the best team in the tournament. The Huskies have lost one game since the start of January, and they don’t plan on losing one now. They won the first two games of the tournament and didn’t look threatened in either of them.

While San Diego State has been good this year, they appear to be a bit overseeded. The Aztecs barely scraped by UAB before blowing out Yale in the second round. But the Aztecs have a tall task in the Sweet Sixteen. While they could hang on for a bit, UConn should win comfortably.

Best Bet: UConn -10.5

Alabama vs UNC

You may look at the total and think, “That is awfully high for a college basketball game,” and you would be right. But, when you break it down, it is very achievable. According to Kenpom, both teams are in the top 50 in adjusted tempo. UNC is 41, and Alabama is eighth. They also both have incredibly efficient offenses, as UNC is ranked 17 and Alabama is fourth. Either way you split it, these teams like to put up points.

North Carolina has scored 84+ points in five of its last seven games. Alabama has scored 90+ in 8 of its last 12. They’ve also scored over 100 10 times this season. While the total is high, there is a great chance of this game going over.

Best Bet: o173.5

Illinois vs Iowa State

These may be the two hottest teams in the country. Iowa State just won the Big 12 tournament and coasted through the first two rounds of the tournament. Illinois has been on fire and dismantled its first two opponents in March Madness. This leaves us with a Sweet Sixteen matchup between the top-ranked offense (Illinois) and top-ranked defense (Iowa State), according to Kenpom.

They say defense wins championships, but I think The Illini have the upper hand in this matchup. The edge? Star power. Illinois has three players who can take over a game: Terrence Shannon Jr., Marcus Domask, and Coleman Hawkins. While Iowa State has a great defense, they just don’t have quite enough to stop the red-hot Illini.

Best Bet: Illinois ML (+105)


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