NCAA Tournament Odds, Futures: 3 Bets to Make Before Sweet 16

NCAA Tournament Odds, Futures: 3 Bets to Make Before Sweet 16 article feature image
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Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Nembhard (Creighton)

The best weekend of the college basketball season is over, but we still have 16 teams chasing the national title.

Before we dive into the specific Sweet 16 matchups later this week, our staff is diving back into the futures market with three picks.

So, jump in below and get the top NCAA tournament odds and futures, including the three bets to make before the Sweet 16.

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NCAA Tournament Futures Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent our staff's favorite futures before the Sweet 16. Click the team logos for one of the teams below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Team
Pick
National Champion (+1100) 
National Champion (+900)
To Win East Region (+310)
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Creighton to Win National Title (+1100 · Caesars)

By D.J. James

The Creighton Bluejays may have the easiest matchup in the Sweet 16.

Obviously, it’s easy to pick on the Princeton Tigers, but their luck should run out against the well-oiled Bluejays offense.

Creighton owns a much better perimeter and interior defense than the Tigers.

In addition, Princeton will not be able to exploit the one issue Creighton has: an inability to force turnovers. The Tigers rank even worse in this metric than the Jays. Look for Creighton’s efficiency to propel it to the Elite Eight.

In the Elite Eight, the Bluejays would face the Alabama Crimson Tide. Yes, Alabama and Houston are the favorites to meet in the title game right now, but Creighton should not be overlooked.

For one, Alabama ranks 225th in offensive turnover rate, while Creighton ranks 69th. In addition, the Bluejays rank third in free-throw attempt percentage on defense and will face an Alabama offense that thrives on getting to the free-throw line.

Essentially, the Bluejays will prohibit one facet of Alabama’s continued success all season long.

Finally, Alabama allows a 28.1% 3-point rate and 40.9% 2-point rate. The Tide will likely close down the interior presence of Ryan Kalkbrenner, as they rank 18th in defense at the rim, per ShotQuality. That said, they also sit 139th in finishing at the rim, while the Bluejays rank 50th.

Creighton shoots better from deep as well, hitting 35.8% from distance. On the other side, Bama hits 34.1%.

Adding to that, the Tide rank 242nd in Open 3 Rate, 131st in defending catch-and-shoot 3s and 161st in off-the-dribble 3-point defense. Creighton ranks 114th, fifth and 96th in those categories, respectively, which is a noticeable edge.

Much of Creighton’s number is due to its potential to lose to Alabama, but the Bluejays have distinct advantages over the Crimson Tide.

Pick: Creighton to Win National Title (+1100)


UConn to Win National Title (+900 · FanDuel)

By John Feltman

It might be a tough matchup against a physical Arkansas team in the Sweet 16, but this price is way too cheap for the Huskies.

Although it’s not the easiest matchup, I still believe the Huskies will take care of business against the Razorbacks.

Afterwards, they will find themselves with a matchup against either UCLA or Gonzaga, and I think they match up nicely against both.

The tricky part will be facing off against a Houston or Texas team in the Final Four. I’d prefer UConn to face the Longhorns, as it would probably be slightly favored in that matchup.

With a 9-1 ticket, even if UConn faces off against Alabama in the final, you have a decent hedge opportunity where the Huskies won’t be too big of an underdog in that spot.

Also, who’s to say they can’t win that matchup?

There’s too much to like with a Huskies team that ranks inside the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They also have the chops to get hot from behind the arc, which will be key against an offensive unit like the Tide

Alabama takes a ton of 3s, but surprisingly, it's only hitting them at a 34.1% clip. The Huskies are also top-20 in defending behind the arc, so it’s very possible the Tide have an off night offensively.

Just like D.J. mentioned above, I think the Bluejays or Huskies are great buys at their current prices. But I think UConn has a slightly better shot of pulling this off.

Pick: UConn to Win National Title (+900)

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Michigan State to Win East Region (+310 · Bet365)

By Carmine Carcieri

In a year where parity has ruled, there’s no region that represents the current state of the sport more than the East.

Purdue became the second No. 1 seed to ever lose to a 16-seed. Tyler Kolek and Marquette looked flat and were out-toughed by Michigan State. And a red-hot Duke team ran into a buzz saw in Orlando.

So, why am I taking a future in the most up-in-the-air region?

Because guard play and coaching wins in March.

Tyson Walker and A.J. Hoggard aren’t the most athletic, flashy or dynamic guards in the country, but they’re experienced and tough.

Meanwhile, Tom Izzo is one of the most trusted coaches in the country in March, as he’s reached eight Final Fours, including the program’s most recent appearance in 2019.

But most importantly, I think the Spartans are the best team remaining in this region, giving them excellent value at +310.

Florida Atlantic was one of the top mid-majors in the nation this year, but it struggled to get by Fairleigh Dickinson in the Round of 32 and wasn’t all that impressive against Memphis.

Markquis Nowell looked nearly unstoppable against Kentucky, however, Kansas State has overachieved this year, capitalizing on a great home-court advantage in the Big 12.

Finally, Tennessee is an elite defensive team, but it goes through lulls of serious scoring issues. While the Vols toppled a Duke team that was on fire, they finished 9-of-21 from 3-point territory.

Rick Barnes’ team is almost certainly going to regress moving forward, as the Volunteers were one of the worst power-conference teams shooting the 3-ball and ranked 234th nationally in 3-point percentage this season.

Give me Sparty to advance to the Final Four in Izzo’s favorite month.

Pick: Michigan State to Win East Region (+310)

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