After a wild opening weekend to the NCAA Tournament, we are down to the Sweet 16 and it promises to be a good one. Four double-digit seeds made it to the second weekend, including this year's Cinderella, No. 15 Saint Peter's. Here's a quick rundown of the Sweet 16 with our picks coming later this week. (Lines come from BetMGM.)
Sweet 16 March Madness Betting Picks and Tips
|Game||Our Plays for the Final Four||Where to Bet|
No. 8 North Carolina vs No. 1 Kansas
North Carolina +4.5 (-115)
No. 8 North Carolina vs No. 1 Kansas
Over 151.5 (-115)
No. 4 Arkansas vs No. 1 Gonzaga (-8.5)
Gonzaga is back in the Sweet 16 yet again, but it wasn't without their bumps in the road. They let No. 16 Georgia State hang around quite a while before pulling away late and squeaked by No. 9 Memphis to get to the regionals in San Francisco. They'll meet Arkansas, who is in their second straight Sweet 16 after having not made the second weekend since 1996. The Razorbacks survived strong challenges from a pair of mid-majors in No. 13 Vermont and No. 12 New Mexico State.
No. 3 Texas Tech (-1.5) vs No. 2 Duke
A very colorful matchup in San Francisco, as the Red Raiders take on the Blue Devils. Mike Krzyzewski reaches the Sweet 16, his 26th, in his final NCAA Tournament, having taken care of No. 15 Cal State Fullerton and No. 7 Michigan State, as Coach K scored one last victory over Tom Izzo. Texas Tech is back in the Sweet 16 after missing the party in 2021. They took care of No. 14 Montana State and No. 11 Notre Dame on their road to San Fran. It's their third Sweet 16 appearance in four tournaments and first with new head coach Mark Adams. Will the Red Raiders end the career of Coach K and reach their third Elite 8 in four tournaments? This could be one of the better matchups of the weekend.
No. 5 Houston vs No. 1 Arizona (-2.5)
What a job head coach Tommy Lloyd has done in his first year in Tuscon. Arizona was expected to get back on track under the longtime Gonzaga assistant, but no one expected it this quickly. Remember, Arizona had a postseason ban in 2021 that led to Sean Miller leaving the Wildcats (Miller is now back as head coach of Xavier). Lloyd took over, guided Arizona to the school's first No. 1 seed since 2014 and their first Sweet 16 since 2017 after wins over No. 16 Wright State and No. 9 TCU. In their way? Kelvin Sampson and Houston, who are in their third straight Sweet 16. The Cougars are cruising once again, posting a pair of double-digit victories against No. 12 UAB and No. 4 Illinois. And it's in-state for Houston, with the regionals being in San Antonio. This one should be fun.
No. 11 Michigan vs No. 2 Villanova (-4.5)
It's a rematch of the 2018 National Championship and in the same city, too. This time it's the AT&T Center, rather than the Alamodome. Villanova won that meeting, 79-62 to cap off a dominating tournament for the Wildcats, where they won all six games by double figures. After wins over No. 15 Delaware and No. 7 Ohio State, Villanova is in their fourth Sweet 16 since 2016. Michigan is on a nice streak of their own. Juwan Howard's team became just the fifth school since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to reach five straight Sweet 16s after wins over No. 6 Colorado State and No. 3 Tennessee.
No. 4 Providence vs No. 1 Kansas (-7.5)
It's been a magical season for Providence. 24-4, a Big East regular-season championship and their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1997. They were a popular pick to be bounced in the first round against No. 13 South Dakota State, but pulled away late. Then they easily handled No. 12 Richmond. Now, Ed Cooley has a date with Bill Self, who is one of only three coaches in history to be a No. 1 seed ten times. Mike Krzyzewski (14) and Roy Williams (13) are the others. Kansas made it to Chicago by easily disposing of No. 16 Texas Southern and then a close battle with No. 9 Creighton, who fought hard but some late mistakes and turnovers proved costly. Can the Friars take down the blueblood and reach their first Elite 8 since 1997? We'll soon find out.
No. 11 Iowa State vs No. 10 Miami (FL) (-1.5)
For just the fourth time in tournament history, we have a 10 vs 11 matchup in the Sweet 16. All have come since 2011. Florida State vs VCU in 2011, Stanford vs Dayton in 2014 and Syracuse vs Gonzaga in 2016. Interestingly enough, two of the winners (VCU and Syracuse) reached the Final Four. Can either the Cyclones or Hurricanes accomplish that feat? Iowa State has beaten No. 6 LSU and No. 3 Wisconsin to reach this point while Miami knocked out No. 7 USC and No. 2 Auburn. Remember, this was an Iowa State program that won just two games last season. What a turnaround under new head coach T.J. Otzelberger. This is Iowa State's first Sweet 16 since 2016. For Miami, it's just their fourth Sweet 16 ever, first since 2016 and third under Jim Larranaga, the man who guided No. 11 George Mason to the 2006 Final Four.
No. 8 North Carolina vs No. 4 UCLA (-2.5)
We've got a battle of the bluebloods in Philadelphia between the Tar Heels and the Bruins. These two were supposed to meet in Las Vegas in December, but COVID issues forced UCLA to pull out of the CBS Sports Classic. That led to UNC playing Kentucky (Ohio State also had to pull out due to COVID). The Heels got thrashed by the Wildcats. Of course, it's now UNC in the Sweet 16 and not Kentucky after rolling over No. 9 Marquette and then surviving in overtime after blowing a 25-point lead against No. 1 and now-former champion Baylor. UCLA survived a scare from No. 13 Akron before a comfortable 16-point win over No. 5 Saint Mary's. The Bruins now have to travel across the country but are still the favorites in this match and possibly to win the region.
No. 15 Saint Peter's vs No. 3 Purdue (-12.5)
Last but not least, we have the Cinderella of the tournament. Saint Peter's rallied and won in overtime to stun No. 2 Kentucky to become just the tenth No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed, almost to the day of the ten-year anniversary of a pair of 15s winning on the same day (Norfolk State over Missouri, Lehigh over Duke). Then the Peacocks went and knocked the other school from Kentucky to make the field out of this year's tournament, No. 7 Murray State, to become just the third No. 15 to reach the Sweet 16. Now, Saint Peter's will try to do what neither Florida Gulf Coast or Oral Roberts could do: reach the Elite 8. To do so, they'll have do get past Jaden Ivey and the Purdue Boilermakers, who are playing in their fourth Sweet 16 in the last five tournaments but haven't reached the Final Four since 1980. Purdue has gotten past No. 14 Yale and No. 6 Texas to get to this point. It's understandably the biggest spread of all the Sweet 16 games, since it's a 3 against a 15 and a 15 has obviously never beaten a 3.