2016 March Madness: 4 Bets to Chase During the Sweet 16
Considering throwing down a bet during Thursday and Friday night’s Sweet 16 games? You may want to consider all of the crucial information, first.
There is plenty to consider with eight games coming out way before we see teams dancing into the Elite 8, but where should you place your bets? Let’s take a look at our five favorite plays:
Under – Wisconsin/Notre Dame
The Badgers and Fighting Irish square off on Friday night in what could be a tooth and nail battle. Both teams got to the Sweet 16 based on heroics, as the Fighting Irish got a basket as time expired to take down S.F. Austin and two clutch three’s from Bronson Koenig helped the Badgers upset 2-seeded Xavier.
Both of these teams can put up points when they’re on, but the good bet here is that Wisconsin shows up defensively and uses their slow, methodical offense to control this game. Wisconsin typically loses when the games gets too out of hand, but if they can keep it in the high 50’s or low 60’s, they will have a great chance at advancing to the Elite 8 for the third year in a row.
We’ve already seen the Badgers enforce their will (43 points allowed in round one) and due to the talent the Fighting Irish lost after last season, an argument could be made that they’ve gone about as far as they can go. If you’re looking for a safe bet (as safe as they come in March Madness, at least), picking the Under (Total is at 131) in this game is a pretty good route.
Under – Virginia/Iowa State
The story is much the same here, as we get a classic offense vs. defense clash when the Cavalier stake on the Cyclones on Friday night. It’s obviously entirely possible that Iowa State brings it’s A game (91 and 78 points in the first two rounds), but we certainly need to consider where Virginia comes into this (allowing just 59 points per game).
Defense tends to win out and hot-shooting teams have to go cold eventually, so logic may prevail here and make the 1-seeded Cavaliers look like the better team to lean on.
The set Total is 141, which could still allow one of these teams to hit 70 points and win if they can hold the other to less. There hasn’t been a more obvious statement in history, to be sure, but let’s look at it this way: when Virginia scores over 70 points, they’re 79-4 under head coach Tony Bennett. That’s largely thanks to a sound offensive system, but more importantly, that elite defense.
The Cyclones do have a calling card in their outside shooting, while they’ve shot a blistering 50% from the floor on the year. They also haven’t played a defense as nasty as Virginia, however. While it’s possible we get an offensive battle here, logic certainly supports a lower scoring defensive clash – at least one where the Cavaliers limit the Cyclones more than they’re used to.
Over – North Carolina/Indiana
Another Friday games could yield the most points out of any game yet, as the Tar Heels and Hoosiers square off. Vegas has given this game a -5 line and set the Total at 158.5 – and it’s one you might want to attack.
Simply put, these are two very gifted offenses and Indiana’s lack of defense really could open the door to a total shootout. The Hoosiers scored 99 points in the first round and out-lasted Kentucky with a healthy 73 points in round two. That offense will be needed more than ever when they battle the Tar Heels, however, who dominate down low with Brice Johnson and seem to pit up 80+ points every night (83 and 85 through the first two rounds).
The skinny is this: these teams both can ball offensively, sporting top-12 offenses in the nation, averaging over 82 points per game. Even their averages crushes this Total with the Over, and as tight and intense as this game might wind up getting, it’s very possible we get even more points than that. This game has all the trappings, including terrific coaching, star talent and two teams that desperately want to advance to round four. An overtime outcome could be in the cards, and odds are we get a boat full of points.
Upset – Duke Over Oregon
It’s tough to imagine a #1 seed dropping out of the tourney at this point, but if it’s going to happen, now wouldn’t be a bad time. If you’re looking for that big upset, it might be a good idea to start with Oregon or Virginia, both of which look like the far weaker #1 seeds when compared to powerhouses like North Carolina and Kansas.
Throw in a high-flying Duke offense that thrives on up-tempo matchups and, you know, won the national title a year ago, and we might have our first top-seed tumbling out of March Madness.
It’s also extremely possible Oregon kills the Blue Devils at their own game, as they certainly have the star power (Dillon Brooks, especially), athleticism and offensive upside to get the job done. It’s questionable if Oregon can keep this up, of course, as they barely got by St. Joe’s in round two and are now facing a team that can run and gun with the best of them.
Duke lacks size and if they’re not hitting from outside, they’re as good as dead. However, Coach K is still getting the job done and the duo of Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram are making Duke look like a tough out with each passing round. Big man Marshall Plumlee may end up being the glue that does (or doesn’t) hold it all together, but for this matchup, he’s less of a necessity. If Allen and Ingram can keep firing away and keep Oregon on their toes, Duke should be able to play its brand of basketball – one that few teams can best them at.
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