NCAA Tournament Odds & Picks For Sunday’s Sweet 16 Games
C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Evan Mobley.
- The early Sweet 16 games were fun, but now it's time to lock in for the night.
- Our staff breaks down Alabama vs. UCLA and USC vs. Oregon, sharing a total of four picks.
- Check out their betting analysis of Sunday's NCAA Tournament games below.
Day 1 of Sweet 16 action was fun. Now, we have another day of the exact same thing.
There are four spots in the Elite Eight on the line on this fine Sunday, with Gonzaga vs. Creighton starting things off before Michigan and Florida State take over.
Then, our staff comes in ready to bet.
Check out all four picks and full breakdowns below, and use the table below to freely navigate to any game on the slate.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
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Note: All photos below are via Getty Images.
(2) Alabama vs. (11) UCLA
The Bruins certainly don’t want to play this game in the 80s, but that doesn’t mean this is a classic, defensive-minded, Mick Cronin team.
During UCLA’s late-season surge, Bruins games have reached 145 points or more in three of their last four contests.
Johnny Juzang has been the offensive catalyst, posting five games of 23 points or more in the past six weeks, helping UCLA rise all the way to 12th in KenPom’s offensive rankings. What this means for this game is that if Alabama establishes its preferred pace (76.5 possession per game, 16th), UCLA has the option to score right alongside it.
Despite Alabama’s third-rated defense, according to KenPom, the Tide have surrendered 77 points or more in three of their last six. They’ve had this luxury because the perimeter shots have been falling as they did during UA’s impressive mid-season run.
What is most interesting to me in this spot is that when Alabama has hit an over, it usually blows past the closing total. As a virtual coin-flip on totals this season (17-15 in favor of under), it was surprising to find that in the last eight Alabama games that have gone over, the closing total was exceeded by over 13 points per game.
What this signals for me is that if things are clicking for both offenses, 145.5 doesn’t stand a chance.
My main bet will be over the listed total, but I’ll also sprinkle two additional plays: one at over 150.5 (+150) and another at over 155.5 (+260).
(2) Alabama vs. (11) UCLA
UCLA has played three excellent NCAA Tournament games, but this will be the end of the road for Mick Cronin and the Bruins.
Alabama has been cruising. It’s won 11 of its last 12 games and has won its last five by an average of 15 points. It’s also 5-2 against the spread in its last seven and most recently crushed Maryland, winning by 19 as six-point favorites.
However, simply laying the points with Alabama isn’t my absolute best bet in this one.
Alabama’s won eight straight games but has had some slow starts during that stretch. In just the last eight games, the Crimson Tide…
- Trailed Maryland, 14-7, with 15 minutes left in the first half
- Trailed Iona, 11-8, with 15 minutes left in the first half
- Trailed Tennessee, 23-17, with 10 minutes left in the first half
- Trailed Georgia, 29-15, with seven minutes left in the first half
Alabama won those four games by an average margin of 11 points.
Nate Oats and Co. can sleepwalk early in games. However, Alabama shoots more from deep than any team in the tournament (46.7 3PA%), and it can score in bunches when it starts to get hot.
UCLA is terrible at defending the deep ball (198th in defensive 3P%), and therefore, I’m expecting Alabama to dominate from distance once it gets going.
But I’m also expecting UCLA to come out with energy and intensity. UCLA led both BYU and Abilene Christian by double-digits at the halfway point.
While I lean Alabama in this game, I’m hoping it trails early against an energetic UCLA team so I can live bet a better number just before Alabama starts sinking 3s.
My dream scenario is to play Alabama at -2.5 or better sometime in between the 14- and 10-minute mark in the first half.
(2) Alabama vs. (11) UCLA
Alabama has been rolling over the course of the last eight games and has looked as good as advertised.
The Nate Oats methodology of “layups or 3s” has won over the attention of social media, and it’s a tough offense to stop regardless of how long a team has to prepare for it. Add in the fact that every Alabama player can win their one-on-one matchup, and it makes me believe this is going to be a runaway victory for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama owns the 26th-ranked offense and third-ranked defensive efficiency in the country. It runs an extremely fast pace and free-flowing offense in the open court.
UCLA, meanwhile, owns the 337th offensive tempo in the country and will be looking to slow things down. If Alabama is hitting its shots early, then the Bruins will have no choice but to attempt to play out of their comfort zone in a faster pace game to stay in it, which plays right into the hands of Alabama.
UCLA exploited mismatches against smaller guards in both of its first-weekend matchups. That won’t be the case here. Alabama guards are long and have the ability to switch off of all screens.
I’m anticipating Roll Tide to roll over the Bruins and solidify their spot in the Elite Eight with a statement win.
(6) USC vs. (7) Oregon
The Trojans are going to have a massive advantage inside in this game.
USC is the tallest team in the country, and it has one the best big men in the country in the form of five-star freshman Evan Mobley. Mobley has been fantastic through the first two games of the tournament, scoring 39 combined points and grabbing 24 rebounds.
Oregon doesn’t start a player taller than 6-foot-6 and struggles defending down low. The Ducks allowed almost 52% from inside the arc during Pac-12 play.
The Trojans shoot over 52% from inside the arc and over 61% on shot attempts at the rim, according to Hoop-Math. USC also has the 12th-highest offensive rebounding rate in the country, which was one of the main reasons it beat Oregon during the regular season, as it grabbed 15 offensive rebounds in its 72-58 win in late February.
Oregon boasts one of the best offenses in the country, ranking 14th in offensive efficiency. And the Ducks can hit from all over the court.
They led the Pac-12 in efficiency, averaging almost 1.10 points per possession mainly due to their fantastic 3-point shooting. The Ducks shoot 37.9% from beyond the arc and can spread the wealth, as four of their five starters are shooting better than 37% from deep. Their 3-point shooting was on full display against Iowa, as the Ducks went 11-of-25 from beyond the arc.
USC plays a 2-3 zone that has been giving opponents fits all season long. Neither Drake nor Kansas could figure it out, as both averaged below .90 points per possession.
The Trojans use their height to their advantage, as they are the No. 1 team in the country in 2-point percentage allowed. So, Oregon is going to have to get red-hot against the zone to win this game.
I have the Trojans projected at -4.83, so I think there’s some value on USC at -2.