March Madness Picks: Three Plays To Circle For Sweet 16 Showdowns

After an early scare, Houston is ready roll into the Elite Eight


March 22

With the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament behind us and March Madness in full effect, let?s examine three bets to make for the Sweet 16.

Let’s start with the heavyweight fight between the UCLA Bruins and Gonzaga Bulldogs.

(All betting lines from DraftKings Sportsbook)

Gonzaga vs. UCLA over 145.5 points (-110)
Both teams come into this game riding high after the first two rounds of this tourney. UCLA shut down both UNC Ashville and Northwestern holding the Wildcats to just 63 points. Gonzaga looks to be in their usual March groove having knocked off both Grand Canyon and TCU. Both teams also have stars all over the floor with Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and the Bruins’ Jamie Jaquez Jr just to name a few. Both teams have decorated head coaches in Mick Cronin and Mark Few. The Bruins are one of the better defensive teams left in the tournament allowing just 60 points per game, but they can also score at a high rate. In the last 10 games, UCLA has scored 75-plus points in seven of them. Conversely, Gonzaga struggles defensively giving up 75 points per game and they just allowed TCU to score 81. However, the Bulldogs’ offense remains a powerhouse per usual, led by Timme, the Wooden Award favorite. My bet is that we get a close, high-scoring game.

Houston -7.5 vs. Miami
Houston impressed me in the second round against a team that I thought would be this tourney’s Cinderella in the Auburn Tigers. Auburn has an elite defense and was playing this game in Birmingham, which was essentially a home game. The Cougars also weren’t healthy playing with several players who were banged up, none bigger than star Marcus Sasser. Houston found itself down by 10 at the half, but despite all the obstacles, Houston outscored Auburn 50-23 in the second half and won by 17 points. Miami is a different animal however and this game will be strength against strength. The Canes have a high-octane offense, and the Cougars rank second in the country in defensive efficiency. I’ll bet on a healthier Houston team that enjoyed this week off and plays elite-level defense to end this magical run for Jim Larranaga’s crew.

Texas vs. Xavier under 148.5 points (-110)
This is the highest point total of all the Sweet 16 matchups and for good reason. Both teams bolster two of the best offensive attacks remaining in this tournament field. However, Texas as of late has been playing lockdown defense. The Longhorns only give up 67 points per game on average but in their last six games, they have cut that down to 58 points per game. During that incredible stretch, Texas has shut down both Kansas and TCU. I believe Xavier will have their work cut out for them to score in this game and because Texas is such a complete team, the Musketeers will equally be working hard on the defensive end to stay in this game with a chance to win it. Although most are anticipating a high-scoring affair, I’m going to bet the under.

Thumbnail photo via Vasha Hunt/USA TODAY Sports Images

Picked For You