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March Madness Best Bets: Sweet 16

March Madness action continues on Thursday with a four-game slate of NCAA Tournament March Madness action. This article will examine the best bets for Thursday and offer professional opinions and evaluations to assist you in making wise and well-informed betting choices, with the aid of OddsShopper’s college basketball odds and best bets resources. Nonetheless, onto our March Madness best bets and Sweet 16 predictions.

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March Madness Best Bets & Sweet 16 Predictions

Michigan State vs. Kansas State

Getting through USC and Marquette to reach the Sweet 16, Michigan State has a 1.5-point advantage over Kansas State in this contest. While Kansas State also punched their Sweet 16 ticket with a pair of wins over Montana State and Kentucky, ShotQuality graded both as single digit losses. With that said, Kansas State still possesses a few advantages despite coming in as the underdog.

Michigan State ranks 112th in offensive efficiency, while Kansas State checks in 131st. Despite the gap, Michigan State’s offense doesn’t project well against the Wildcats. Kansas State has an effective shooting advantage, ranking 101st to Michigan State’s 128th. Michigan State excels at shooting three’s where they rank sixth in 3-point percentage. However, they rarely exploit this advantage, ranking 298th in 3-point attempts per game. Likewise, Kansas State ranks 15th in 3-point defense. On the inside, Michigan State only ranks 267th in 2-point percentage.

From there, Michigan State has been known to get into foul trouble. This actually occurred against Marquette, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t capitalize. Michigan State ranks 184th in fouls committed, while Kansas State is 122nd in fouls generated, giving them an edge here. In fact, Michigan State won the Marquette game after generating 16 turnovers and 18 fouls. On the year, the Spartans have been awful at both. They rank 345th in turnovers generated and 214th in fouls drawn. Outside of a rogue outing like the Marquette game, and Kansas State should take this contest.

March Madness Best Bet: Kansas State +1.5 (-105) at BetMGM

Arkansas vs. Connecticut

A tricky game to evaluate at first glance, Arkansas soundly defeated Illinois and Kansas on their way to the Sweet 16. In fact, ShotQuality had Arkansas defeating Kansas by more points. On the other side, UConn defeated Iona and subsequently snuck by Saint Mary’s in a game graded as a loss. Despite the poor recent play, UConn still grades out as a slight value against the spread. However, the total in the game may offer some value as well.

From an efficiency perspective, Connecticut has most of the advantages. UConn ranks ninth in offensive efficiency, while Arkansas ranks 130th. The Huskies comes in 13th in defensive efficiency, while Arkansas ranks 29th. UConn even ranks 60th in height and second in rebounding. Arkansas comes in 132nd in height and 75th in rebounding. Both teams commit quite a few turnovers and fouls, but UConn appears to have the depth advantage as well. Arkansas’ recent play should be a concern, but Connecticut has simply played superior basketball this year.

As for the total, Arkansas averages 72.1 possessions per game, which ranks well above the NCAA average of 70.0. Connecticut ranks right on the season average over the course of the year. They have slowed their pace of late, ranking 307th in adjusted tempo since February. However, Arkansas’ offensive efficiency has also jumped to 26th in the country over that span. Ultimately, the top value remains UConn on the spread here.

Sweet 16 Prediction: Connecticut -3.5 (-115) at BetMGM

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Florida Atlantic vs. Tennessee

One of the more interesting Sweet 16 matchups, Tennessee defeated Louisiana and Duke to reach this game. ShotQuality graded the Louisiana game as a 61-60 loss, but Tennessee rebounded by smashing Duke. On the other side, FAU won a tough game over Memphis before drawing the lottery against lame duck Fairleigh Dickinson. Ultimately, Tennessee deserves consideration as a value play here.

The season long stats for the Vols are difficult to interpret after they lost their point guard Zakai Zeigler. Zeigler graded out Tennessee’s third most valuable player and second most valuable player on offense. The loss could be felt more here with Tennessee’s 91st-ranked offense coming in behind FAU’s 13th-ranked offense. However, Tennessee still has a defensive edge, ranking first while FAU checks in 18th.

Ultimately, this projects to be an elite game. FAU ranks inside the top 45 in 2-point percentage and 3-point percentage. Tennessee ranks top 12 in defending both. FAU doesn’t turn the ball over or foul, while Tennessee generates both. The lone advantage for the Vols appears to be height. They rank 23rd in height, while FAU checks in 285h. With that said, FAU ranks 22nd in rebounding, while Tennessee ranks ninth. At the end of the day, Tennessee still excelled throughout the 38th-ranked strength of schedule, while FAU played the 125th-ranked strength of schedule.

March Madness Best Bet: Tennessee -5.5 (-115) at BetMGM

Gonzaga vs. UCLA

A rematch of numerous classic games, UCLA takes on Gonzaga as a 2.5-point favorite in a game with a 145.5 total. After playing a brutal non-conference and winning their conference tournament, Gonzaga soundly defeated Grand Canyon and TCU to open the tournament. UCLA persevered through injury to beat UNC Asheville and Northwestern. Interestingly, ShotQuality graded the Northwestern game as a 71-63 loss for UCLA. With that said, both the spread and total look interesting in this game.

Starting with the total, Gonzaga want to play fast. The Bulldogs are 40th in adjusted tempo, averaging 73.3 possessions per game. UCLA comes in a bit slower, but they still rank 243rd in adjusted tempo. This should give the game a solid pace. From there, Gonzaga plays atrocious defense, ranking 175th in defensive efficiency. Poor at defending the interior and the three, UCLA should score regardless. While the defense has been suspect, Gonzaga still ranks first in offensive efficiency, pointing to their ability to score with the best of them.

This offensive advantage should be felt particularly inside. Behind Drew Timme‘s elite play, Gonzaga ranks first in 2-point percentage. Also ranking 10th in 3-point percentage, they have offensive weapons across the court. Even more concerning, big man Adem Bona only logged 21 minutes in UCLA’s last game as he returns from injury. Gonzaga does not turn the ball over or foul, giving them multiple smaller advantages here. Both Gonzaga and the over look like reasonable plays here.

Sweet 16 prediction: over 145.5 (-110) at BetMGM

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