NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 should be competitive

Mar 28, 2019 6:50 AM

And then there were 16. How sweet it is!

The 16 remaining teams are holding form so far through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, though spread-wise, they’ve not always delivered. But all four No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds remain in the chase for the championship. There are also two No. 4 seeds (Florida State and Virginia Tech). There probably should have been one fewer top seed as Duke just got by Central Florida this past Sunday,  77-76, despite being a huge 13.5-point chalk.

The remaining two teams are Auburn, a five seed, and Oregon, a No. 12 and the lowest seed left in the tournament.

Can we call the Ducks, who won the Pac-12 tournament and have looked impressive with wins over No. 5 Wisconsin and 13th-seeded UC Irvine “Cinderella?” But as good as the Ducks have been so far, they’ll have to step it up Thursday when they face top-seeded Virginia in the South regional semifinal in Louisville.  

For betting purposes, we always take a look at the all important ATS aspect in this matchup. Believe it or not, No. 10 seeds or higher have gone 8-1 ATS the last eight years when getting four or more points in this round and another plus for the Ducks is that they have gone 6-0-1 ATS in this round of 16 the seven times that they have been here. Oregon is getting 8.5 points against the Cavaliers, which makes it an even more attractive play.

The Big Ten will be well represented in this round of 16 with third-seed Purdue, No. 2 seed Michigan and second-seeded Michigan State.

Tennessee blew a 22-point lead and needed overtime to beat a stubborn Iowa team by six points and they will have their hands full when they play Purdue on Thursday as a -1 point favorite.

Gonzaga keeps rolling, they face a tough Florida State team on Thursday as an 8.5-point favorite. The bad news for Florida State is that fourth-seeded ‘dogs in this round have gone just 1-6 ATS when getting six for more points. However, Gonzaga has not fared well in this round, going 1-5-1 ATS.

Also on Thursday, No. 3 seed Texas Tech is getting two points from Michigan, which has gone 3-1-1 ATS in this round the last five times the Wolverines have made it this far. Michigan beat Florida on Saturday, 64-49, and we note that two seeds have gone 12-5 ATS off a double-digit win in their previous game. I would say that Michigan is the play.

On Friday, third-seeded LSU is getting 6 points vs Michigan State. this game opened with Michigan State -6.5 so some money has come in on LSU. But note that the Spartans have gone 1-3 ATS the last four times in this round.

Virginia Tech is getting 7.5 points from Duke, which probably had its wake-up call Sunday against Central Florida. Also, fourth-seeded ‘dogs  getting six points or higher in this round have gone 1-6 ATS. Lay it with Duke.

Houston, a three seed, is getting 2.5 points from No. 2 seed Kentucky, which has gone 7-1 ATS the last eight times the Wildcats have been in the Sweet 16. Auburn, another SEC team, is getting 5 points vs. top-seeded North Carolina in the Midwest semifinal. The Tar Heels have gone 6-2 ATS in their last eight games when in the field of 16, so lay the five points with North Carolina.

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