Sweet 16: The best bets for this weekend's March Madness action
It's been an unusual March Madness to say the least. Teams are playing in the bubble of Indianapolis in largely empty arenas following a season of uncertainty and turmoil.
Partly as a result of those unusual circumstances, the 2021 NCAA Tournament has been filled with ridiculously unpredictable outcomes. Four double-digit teams have made the Sweet 16 including 15th-seeded Oral Roberts. Through all of the craziness of the first few rounds, however, the same number of teams have covered the spread as any other past tournament.
We've examined this weekend's games closely and have come up with the five best betting props for the Sweet 16.
Oregon State vs. Loyola - Under 125.5
Sat, March 27 2021, 6:40 PM
Oregon State and Loyola Chicago are both Cinderella stories in this year’s tournament. Oregon State needed to win the Pac-12 tournament to even make the tournament, and Loyola Chicago had to knock off No. 1-seed Illinois to make it this far.
🚨 8-SEED LOYOLA CHICAGO UPSETS 1-SEED ILLINOIS 🚨 pic.twitter.com/WSr8kW4MIJ— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 21, 2021
Now one of them will be making it to the Elite Eight, and Loyola appears to be the deserving favorite. Loyola has the most effective defense in the country, and while their strength of schedule likely led to questions pre-tournament, their ability to shut down Illinois proved they can compete with anybody.
Oregon State will struggle to score against Loyola, and with no elite playmaker to call on when their offense gets bogged down, look for this lowest total of the next round to still come in Under 125.5.
Oregon vs. USC - Halftime Tie/USC Win +2000
Mon, March 29 2021, 1:45 AM
USC and Oregon are conference foes, which could lead to a closer game due to their familiarity with one another. This game is the second lowest total on the board, meaning points will come at a greater premium. It also has the closest line of the eight games on the board, so a smaller margin of victory is to be expected.
USC is the better team and is playing superbly right now, so I expect them to draw away late in the game and win. However, if you want to take a flyer on a longshot, you can't go wrong with the juicy 20:1 odds being offered on the game being tied at half and USC winning.
Oral Roberts vs. Arkansas - Under 159
Sat, March 27 2021, 11:25 PM
Arkansas loves to get out, run, shoot threes, and push the pace. Need proof? The Razorbacks are 17th in the country in adjusted tempo at nearly 73 possessions per game. But this total seems remarkably high, as Oral Roberts’ offense is hardly good enough to keep up and will struggle to top 70 points against Arkansas.
Share the ball and good things happen.— SWEET 16 HOGS 🐗 (@RazorbackMBB) March 21, 2021
In what is forecast to be a blowout, late game free throws will likely not come into play as well. I like this game to stay under the total in a likely 80-65 type outcome.
Syracuse vs. Houston - Houston -6
Sun, March 28 2021, 1:55 AM
I predicted Syracuse make a deep run in this year’s tournament, but the clock is going to hit midnight against an underrated Houston team. Houston should have lost in the round of 32 against Rutgers, but with extra rest their talented leader Dejon Jarreau should perform at a higher level next time out.
Aggressiveness on 10 for Dejon Jarreau! pic.twitter.com/upU3Z1MmQj— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 21, 2021
Teams that are given second life usually bounce back to form, and Houston is simply a much better team, checking in at fourth in the country in overall efficiency. As one of the slower-paced teams in the country, the Cougars will be perfectly comfortable playing the glacier pace that Syracuse favors with their patented zone. Lay the points.
Florida State vs. Michigan - FSU Under 70.5 Team Total
Sun, March 28 2021, 9:00 PM
Florida State has a tall, athletic roster, with lots of depth and options to call on, but the Seminoles lack a consistent scorer outside of Raiquan Gray. Veteran senior leader MJ Walker is playing hurt, and freshman phenom Scottie Barnes hasn’t quite figured out how to take over games yet by himself.
Michigan has good size to slow down Gray, and features one of the top 10 defenses in the country. Bet the Under with confidence.