NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Sunday’s Elite 8 Games, Including Miami vs. Texas (March 26)

NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Sunday’s Elite 8 Games, Including Miami vs. Texas (March 26) article feature image

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Jim Larranaga (Miami)

Florida Atlantic and UConn are the first two teams heading to Texas for the Final Four.

Who will join them, and how is our staff betting Sunday's two Elite 8 games?

Find out below with the top NCAA tournament odds, picks and bet bets, including Miami vs. Texas.

Sunday's 3 Elite 8 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's slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

2:20 p.m. ET
San Diego State +2.5
5:05 p.m. ET
Texas -3.5
5:05 p.m. ET
Over 149
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. San Diego State

Sunday, March 26
2:20 p.m. ET
San Diego State +2.5

By Patrick Strollo

San Diego State and Creighton will tip off today in the South Region for the right to advance to the Final Four.

The Aztecs are extremely hot, winning 13 of their last 14 games, culminating in an impressive 71-64 win over No. 1 seed Alabama in the Sweet 16.

Defense has been the key to much of San Diego State’s success this season. The Aztecs have the fourth-most efficient defense in the nation, per KenPom, allowing just 90.3 points per 100 attempts.

The defense has been elite in defending the deep ball all season. The Aztecs rank third in the nation in 3-point defense, allowing opposing squads to hit 3s just 28.1% of the time.

The lockdown perimeter defense has been in full effect this postseason. Through the first three rounds of the tournament, San Diego State has shut down the 3-point offenses of Charleston (20.8%), Furman (23.1%) and Alabama (11.1%).

For San Diego State to move on, it will have to stymie the shooting of Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman and Ryan Kalkbrenner. I expect the Aztecs to be able to disrupt Scheierman’s deep threat and subsequently transition focus to the inside threat of Kalkbrenner.

Additionally, there are two areas where San Diego State stands out from a statistical perspective relative to Creighton.

First, Creighton does not force turnovers. The Bluejays rank 359th in the nation in defensive turnover rate, generating turnovers on just 13.9% of plays.

Also, Creighton has not done a great job of creating second chances on the glass this season. The Bluejays are 281st in the nation in offensive rebound percentage, grabbing just 25.2% of second chances.

My model is projecting this game as a pick ‘em, and I see the value proposition with San Diego State and the 2.5 points. I also think there is value on a moneyline bet at +115 or better.

Look for the San Diego State defense to continue enforcing its lockdown perimeter defense. As long as the Aztecs can hold Creighton to below 30% shooting from downtown, they will be punching their ticket to the Final Four.

Pick: San Diego State +2.5 (Play to PK)

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Miami vs. Texas

Sunday, March 26
5:05 p.m. ET
Texas -3.5

By BJ Cunningham

Offense is the reason Miami is in the Elite 8. The Hurricanes are sixth in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, 23rd in effective field goal percentage and have two incredible scoring guards in Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack.

Those two have combined for 85 points in their last two games.

What Miami has done against two really good defenses is truly remarkable.

Against Drake, Miami was lost offensively. The Canes scored just four points at the rim against the Bulldogs and relied on some free throw luck to comeback and win that game.

Then against Indiana, they were able to get to the rim with ease and score 40 points there.

Against Houston, they got hot from behind the arc and hit 11 3-pointers, which just shows you the versatility of the Hurricanes' offense.

Overall, for the season, Miami has a ton of issues on the defensive end of the court, as it's 104th in the country in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.

The Canes have done a good job defending inside the arc in this tournament, but to beat Texas, you have to be able to defend mid-range jumpers and at the rim. Miami is a top-35 team in PPP allowed at the rim, but it's 360th in PPP allowed from the mid-range, per ShotQuality.

It's also been a while since Miami has had to face a team that wants to play in transition the way Texas does.

Photo by Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Carr (Texas)

The Longhorns have shown their versatility offensively through these first three games.

Against Colgate, Sir'Jabari Rice caught fire to help lead Texas to a 13-for-23 night from long range.

Then against Penn State, Texas went 1-of-13 from 3-point range, but scored 32 of its 71 points in the mid-range.

Then against Xavier on Friday night, the Longhorns got hot from 3-point range again, going 7-of-12 while also shooting 51% from inside the arc and getting to the rim with relative ease.

Most importantly though, Texas' defense does three things really well.

  1. The Longhorns turn opponents over at a top-20 rate.
  2. They defend the rim at an incredibly high level, allowing 1.11 PPP, which is 21st in the country.
  3. They defend in transition better than anyone left in this tournament, ranking third in PPP allowed.

All three things are crucial to stopping Miami's offense.

The Longhorns have also done a fantastic job of defending the 3-point line this tournament, as opponents have combined to go just 18-of-60 from beyond the arc.

Those three opponents (Colgate, Penn State and Xavier) came into the tournament top-10 in 3-point field goal percentage. That's how impressive Texas has been defending the perimeter.

So, I think the run ends here for Miami. Give me the Longhorns -3.5.

Over 149

By Alex Kolodziej

Both Miami and Texas have been awesome bets in the NCAA tournament.

The Longhorns are 7-0-1 against the spread in their past eight games, and it’s been more than a month since Texas failed to cover the closing betting line.

Miami, meanwhile, has been arguably the most undervalued team in the NCAA tournament.

The Hurricanes covered in the opening round against Drake, then pulled off an outright upset of Indiana in the Round of 32.

They — not Houston — looked like the No. 1 seed in Friday’s huge upset win to shake up the bracket.

While BJ is targeting a side, the total also has value.

In fact, wiseguys are playing Miami-Texas over the total.

PRO’s Sharp Action signal detects whenever smart money hits a market. In this instance, we’ve tracked multiple sharp moves on the over — and zero on the under.

Miami has played consecutive track meets, while Texas cruised past the total in Friday’s Sweet 16 win over Xavier.

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