NCAA Tournament Odds, Futures: Our Staff’s Top Elite 8 & Sweet 16 Bets

NCAA Tournament Odds, Futures: Our Staff’s Top Elite 8 & Sweet 16 Bets article feature image

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UConn’s Adama Sanogo.

March. Is. Here.

Starting Thursday, 64 teams will vie for college basketball supremacy and a national championship trophy. But which teams will get the closest? Our staff has an idea.

Our college basketball writers came through with their top five futures for the 2023 NCAA Tournament, including one Elite Eight bet and four Sweet 16 picks.

Check out all five of our top futures below. Let's have ourselves a March.

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NCAA Tournament Futures Best Bets

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

Elite Eight (+550) 
Sweet 16 (-115)
Sweet 16 (+170)
Sweet 16 (+475)
Sweet 16 (+790)
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.

TCU to Make Elite Eight (+550 · DraftKings)

By Scott Schaeffer

In a West region full of stalwarts, don’t allow TCU to get lost in the shuffle.

I had my heart set on backing the Horned Frogs to make a deep run before the bracket was revealed. Candidly, I wasn’t thrilled to see them placed in a loaded West region.

But I still believe TCU and its talented leader Mike Miles Jr. are a sneaky threat to knock off a couple teams getting more attention.

Although there is a history of teams winning the play-in game in Dayton and subsequently making the Sweet 16, I don’t expect either Arizona State or Nevada to give TCU much trouble.

TCU would then most likely face Gonzaga in the Round of 32.

Gonzaga is playing much better now than it had been in the non-conference portion of the season. Drew Timme has the potential to expose the biggest question mark I have about TCU entering the tournament: how will the team respond after Eddie Lampkin Jr. surprisingly left the program?

Lampkin had the size to bother Timme, but I actually think TCU forward Xavier Cork has the athleticism and footwork to limit Timme’s effectiveness.

If the Horned Frogs can at least minimize Timme’s offensive production, I believe Miles, Damion Baugh and Shahada Wells give the Horned Frogs a nice edge in the backcourt matchup against the Zags.

It’s always unclear how a team may feel having lost a teammate for non-injury reasons. Time will likely tell the story of Lampkin and Jamie Dixon’s relationship, but it’s important to propose the possibility that Lampkin’s teammates were not on his side of the disagreement.

TCU’s first game following Lampkin’s dismissal was the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals, a game that the Frogs dominated throughout in an 80-67 drubbing of Kansas State.

Dixon has been forced to manage injuries to Miles and many other players throughout the year, leading to a somewhat underwhelming six-seed. TCU is now seemingly as healthy and focused as it has been all year.

After seeing Texas demolish Kansas in the Big 12 Championship, I am a lot less concerned with the appearance of TCU’s current form.

If the Frogs can sneak by Gonzaga, I expect them to also take care of a Jaylen Clark-less UCLA team to earn a spot in the final game of the West regional.

Pick: TCU to Make Elite Eight (+550)

UConn to Make Sweet 16 (-110 · BetMGM)

By Carmine Carcieri

Listen, I know there’s more value elsewhere in this piece — I mean just take a look at Mike Calabrese’s pick.

However, this is still one of my favorite bets because of matchups and location.

First, based on specific thresholds, UConn is one of only six teams that are in the top 30 in AdjEM, AdjO and AdD. Other than a slight hiccup during Big East play — when it lost three straight, including one at home to St. John’s — the Huskies have consistently played like one of the best teams in the country.

UConn must face Rick Pitino and the No. 13-seed Iona Gaels — one of the toughest mid-major squads in the nation — in Round 1 before dueling with the winner of Saint Mary’s vs. VCU. But none of these three teams will be able to contain the Huskies’ frontcourt.

The duo of Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan helped UConn finish 15th in the country in rebounding.

Iona has two 7-footers, but it ranks 123rd in the country in rebounding. Meanwhile, Saint Mary’s and VCU rank 135th and 270th, respectively. Expect the Huskies to dominate the interior in both of their games, earning multiple quality second-chance opportunities in the process.

Finally, and arguably most importantly, the Huskies are essentially going to play two home games in Albany, which is a two-plus hour drive from their campus in Storrs.

Anything can happen in the NCAA Tournament, but I’m searching for winners, and I feel strongly about this play.

Pick: UConn to Make Sweet 16 (-110)

Duke to Make Sweet 16 (+155 · DraftKings)

By Brett Pund

I really don’t want to be the only guy around his friends cheering on Duke, but I can’t ignore how much I love the Blue Devils’ path to the Sweet 16 in the East region.

The opening-round matchup with Oral Roberts will likely be more difficult than the following game against either Tennessee or Louisiana, especially with no Zakai Zeigler for the Volunteers.

If Duke is around a -250 moneyline favorite or more in both contests, parlaying those two prices would come out closer to even money or +105 odds. Meanwhile, we can get the Blue Devils at +170 at DraftKings, which is too good of a value to pass up.

This is the same squad that has been playing better than everyone else in the East region over the last month, with a very close second being Memphis.

It’s worrisome that this is a young squad with an inexperienced head coach, but I just don’t feel the odds match up with how favorable the draw is for the Blue Devils.

Pick: Duke to Make Sweet 16 (+155)

Penn State to Make Sweet 16 (+500 · BetMGM)

By D.J. James

If this college basketball season is indicative of the NCAA tournament, parity will be at the forefront. 3-point shooting teams can play their way into any matchup, and this could be the case with the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Penn State is matched up with Texas A&M in the first round, and if it were to win that game, it would likely play Texas in the Round of 32.

Texas A&M is a good team, but it struggles to defend 3s. Teams are shooting 32.3% on the Aggies, but they are yielding a 45.9% 3-point attempt percentage. Penn State shoots the ninth-best 3-point percentage in the nation at 38.5%.

In addition, the Nittany Lions only have a 13.7% turnover rate on offense, and the Aggies thrive off their opponent’s mishaps, with a 21% defensive turnover clip.

Look for the Nittany Lions to take down the Aggies and proceed on to play the Longhorns, who may have a shot of being the best team in the Midwest region.

The Longhorns also struggle defending 3s. Per ShotQuality, they rank 221st in points per possession on catch-and-shoot 3s. They also rank 134th in defensive Open 3 Rate. Since Penn State ranks 10th in 3-point attempt percentage, this is a disaster for the Longhorns, as well.

PSU carved up the Illinois Fighting Illini three times this season. The Illini a solid defense, but at times, have trouble guarding 3s. The Nittany Lions could have a similar result against both of these teams.

Take this down to +400.

Pick: Penn State to Make Sweet 16 (+500)

Furman to Make Sweet 16 (+800 · BetMGM)

By Mike Calabrese

You need pop on the offensive end to make a run as a Cindrella, and the Paladins have that in spades.

Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawson are both Lou Henson Award finalists (Mid-Major POTY) and lead an offense that finished 10th in shooting efficiency and first in shooting accuracy inside the arc.

They’ll draw Virginia and then the winner of SDSU/Charleston, which by no means is a murderers’ row. The Wahoos are putrid offensively, limping into the Big Dance with a trail of bad offensive performances in their wake. In the Cavaliers last 11 games, they failed to exceed 64 points in eight of those contests.

If the ‘Dins make it past the ACC co-champs, an offensively challenged Aztecs team (206th in eFG%) could await them or a high-variance Charleston team that has the potential to shoot itself out of games.

Bob Richey, Furman’s head coach, is a rising star in the profession at just 39 years old and has won 25+ games in three of the last five seasons.

A run to the second weekend will be his springboard to a bigger job.

Pick: Furman to Make Sweet 16 (+800)

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