Sweet 16 Games set to Tip-off Thursday

Louisville and Indiana rank among the top favorites but there is underdog value for those looking to think ahead of the curve


The NCAA March Madness continues Thursday with four games including Arizona vs. Ohio State (-3.5, O/U 134) at 7:45 pm eastern and Syracuse vs. Indiana (-5.5, O/U 135.5) at 9:45 pm eastern time (ET).


Each of those favorites is ranked No. 1 with sportsbooks to win their respective regions but with a couple games in hand; bettors are still offered an opportunity to predict some bracket buster value with NCAA futures odds offered today.



Louisville is paying back in the +250 to +280 range, depending where you look. It’s not that much less than the +450 odds bookmakers opened the tournament with and with the high power rating given to Louisville by top sports handicapping sites, perhaps this is still a tempting bet. But don’t overlook Michigan State.


The Spartans are not only paying +325 to win the Midwest but up to +1500 to win the championship. We don’t suspect Louisville will have much trouble disposing of Oregon but should Michigan State upset Duke (-2) on Friday – a high probability – anyone holding a 15 to 1 futures ticket in their pocket starts feeling pretty good about their opportunities to hedge.



Louisville, Indiana (+450), Florida (+525) and Ohio State (+800) are the top four teams favored to win the national title


For the top favorites, odds on winning their respective regions are only paying back around even money so here are some things to consider as you breakdown the Sweet 16 matchups.


Seeds No. 1 to No. 3 have won 30 of 34 recent college basketball championships and that stat narrows this year’s Sweet 16 group down to nine teams. Only seven teams ranked lower than sixth have reached the Final Four since 1985 so you can cross four more teams from your futures betting checklist and by process of elimination, that makes Arizona (+2000) the ‘Math Man’s’ value pick to win.


Incidentally, a seed ranked fourth or lower has only won four of the past 34 titles and if you are considering the Wildcats (+3.5) to upset Ohio State Thursday, it probably pays to wait on this and see if the line moves back to plus-4.


The biggest parlay books are getting bombed with this weekend involves Indiana (-240) to Miami (-240) to Louisville (-600) and a $100 wager pays back at +134. Our advice: Watch the lines on Syracuse (+5.5) and Marquette (+5) and consider betting the undervalued dogs against the spread (ATS).



One more thing that can’t be understated is the value of coaching. These are young adults playing on a huge stage with a short turnaround between games. The men involved with making adjustments and getting their players to buy into the gameplan are what upsets are made of. Check the boxscore from Sweet 16 games and previous conference and tourney games; look at second-half scoring margins and try find value on teams with great leaders.


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