NCAA Tournament Odds, Best Bets: Our Top Picks for Sunday Night’s Slate
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Timme (Gonzaga)
The best weekend of the college hoops season isn’t over just yet.
In fact, our staff has three best bets for Sunday night’s second-round games, including TCU vs. Gonzaga and more.
Dive in below for the latest NCAA tournament odds, picks and best bets.
Sunday Night’s 3 NCAA Tournament Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from Sunday night’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|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 vs. Baylor
Many probably had Creighton facing off against Baylor in the Round of 32 when they filled out their brackets earlier this week.
Very few would’ve ever imagined that the winner of this matchup, however, would earn the right to face Princeton in the Sweet 16.
That is the reality, which makes this game that much bigger given either team would be a significant favorite over the Tigers.
In what Vegas is essentially making a coin flip game here, I give the edge to Creighton in large part due to the frontcourt matchup.
Ryan Kalkbrenner is one of the elite bigs in the country, and he should be able to have his way with a Baylor front line that has really struggled protecting the rim all year.
There’s no denying the Bears’ guards — Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer and Keyonte George — can score it as well as any trio in America when they are gelling.
That said, Ryan Nembhard and the Creighton backcourt are also dynamic, and the Bluejays continue to defend at an elite level.
Baylor will have to settle for a lot of jump shots in this matchup, whereas Creighton should be able to generate plenty of easy ones at the rim.
Ultimately, I believe Creighton is the more complete and balanced team from top to bottom, and that consistency should win out in the end.
Give me the Jays to move onto the Sweet 16.
Pick: Creighton +1 (Play to PK)
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Miami vs. Indiana
Despite Norchad Omier’s return from injury, I am taking another swing at fading one of the more overrated teams remaining in this tournament: Miami.
Omier finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds in the Round of 64, but did it on an inefficient 2-of-9 shooting night. Miami was fortunate to escape past Drake, which scored just one point over the final 5:38 after leading nearly the entire way.
There’s a lot of concerns for this Miami team. While its offense is great — it’s 25th in eFG% and inside the top 50 in both 2pt and 3pt shooting — there’s a lot to be had on the defensive end.
The Hurricanes are a small team with a weak interior defense. They struggle from the perimeter, too, but are easily taken advantage of on the glass against more physical teams.
The Hoosiers fit that bill. They had no issue taking down a defensive-savvy Kent State team, one that many thought could upset Mike Woodson’s squad. Trayce Jackson-Davis is playing on another level right now and his 6-foot-8 frontcourt pairing of Race Thompson added 20 points in the win, too.
If Thompson continues his success — he and Jackson-Davis combined for 20 rebounds — Miami is in deep trouble around the rim. Omier can only do so much, especially on an injured ankle, and the Hurricanes lack depth in the frontcourt.
Indiana rarely shoots the 3 ball, but is efficient when doing so (37%). This is a team that attacks relentlessly inside and is fourth in the country with 60.9% of all points coming on 2-point field goals.
Can Miami’s guards keep it in the game? Isaiah Wong surely has the ability to and Nijel Pack has scored 20+ in five of his last nine games. But this IU defense is no slouch, and while it doesn’t force turnovers, it ranks 32nd in eFG% and is a top-15 interior defense.
The key here is depth and size, both of which favor the Hoosiers. They’re inside the top 20 in height and have more talent off the bench than Miami. The Hurricanes also prefer to attack inside — 268th in 3PA/FGA — yet are all the way down at 224th in height.
That will be an issue against a long and athletic frontcourt led by Jackson-Davis.
Give me the Hoosiers to advance to the Sweet 16.
Pick: Indiana -1.5 (Play to -2.5)
TCU vs. Gonzaga
No. 3 seed Gonzaga will face No. 6 seed TCU in the last game of the second round at Ball Arena in Denver, CO.
No stranger to success on the big stage, Gonzaga looks to make its eighth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 under head coach Mark Few with a victory tonight.
The Bulldogs are the only team to advance to the last seven Sweet 16s and just one of two teams (Kansas) to win their last 14 consecutive opening-round games.
Meanwhile, TCU and head Jaime Dixon look to make it to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1968.
This Gonzaga team was made for March, and it appears primed to continue its success in the most important month of basketball, entering tonight’s game with the top-ranked scoring offense in the nation.
The Zags are averaging 87.4 points per game and are the top-ranked shooting team in the country in effective field goal percentage.
Gonzaga has been lethal from the field all season, draining an astounding 58.9% of 2-pointers and 38.5% of 3-pointers on the season. It ranks first and 10th in the nation in those stat lines, respectively.
TCU has good defense, ranking 23rd in defensive efficiency this season. However, it has struggled on the glass, collecting only 69.5% (273rd) of defensive rebounds on the season.
Senior forward Drew Timme, the Bulldogs’ leading offensive rebounder, should have a big night on the glass.
Defense has been a thorn in the side of Gonzaga this season to an extent. It ranks 75th in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, which puts it in the bottom half of teams remaining in the tournament.
3-point defense has been the main culprit for the Zags, but TCU’s 3-point offense is a mitigating factor. The Horned Frogs have a 3-point rate of 30.8% on the season, ranking them at 334th in the metric, per Bart Torvik.
My model is projecting Gonzaga as 5.5-point favorites, offering 1.5 points of value to the available markets. I like riding with the best offense in the nation to get the job done tonight.
Look for Few to have his squad of elite shooters ready, as Gonzaga’s ability to create scoring opportunities from anywhere on the court will overwhelm TCU in the later stages of the game.
Pick: Gonzaga -4 (Play to -4.5)
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