The NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 is upon us. I already gave you my play for all eight games. But, in reality, not all are worth betting on.
At this time of year, bettors tend to gravitate towards blue blood schools and big-name coaches. I prefer to look at recent results. Recency bias is a real thing to be avoided in most circumstances. But the tourney is a bit of a different beast. Some teams are playing their best under the brightest spotlight, others have seen their play tail off under pressure.
While eight of the remaining teams are within a game of .500 against the spread this year, some are throwing up bright red caution signs for bettors. Here are the trends you should know before making your Sweet 16 wagers.
Sweet 16 Betting Trends
The Zags are a ridiculous 22-9-1 against the spread. However, they’ve failed to cover in their first two: a 20-point win over South Dakota (66-46) as 23.5-point favorites, and a six-point win over Northwestern (79-73) as 10.5-point favorites. In fact, Gonzaga has only covered three of its last eight games. Their ATS record still looks great, but that’s because it took sportsbooks too long to realize they were 20 and 30 points better than their WCC competition. The books have learned what the sharps knew all along, and there doesn’t seem to be incredible value remaining, especially when you consider that the team’s play has been less than inspiring through the first two rounds. Consider West Virginia as a three-point dog.
The Boilermakers might be a good play against Kansas this weekend. Purdue is 19-11-1 against the number, while the Jayhawks are 14-17-1. But the better angle is the over. Five of Purdue’s last six games have sailed over the total, covering by an average of 8.5 points a game. Each of Kansas’ last four games has gone over, as well. And their scores aren’t squeaking over the total, either, going over by an average of 15 points a contest. The O/U opened at 156. It’s high, but not too high for my liking.
Mike White’s Gators are an impressive 20-12 ATS this year. They’ve covered both of their tournament games easily, but failed to cash tickets in two straight, three of four, and five out of eight entering the big dance. That recent history has me concerned, so again, I’m looking to the total.
Betting the under on Gator games has become reliable. Three straight and five of six have stayed under. Like Kansas with the over, Florida’s unders haven’t been all that close: their last five unders have covered by more than 10 points per game. Their last just barely eclipsed the total. Sweet 16 foe Wisconsin has gone over just twice in its last five games, as well. Again, sportsbooks are onto the trend; the O/U is at a miniscule 131.5. But both of these teams rely on their defense and I’m comfortable rolling with the clear trend.
The Gamecocks won a pick’em game with Marquette by 20 points, then upset Duke as a 6.5-point dog to reach the Sweet 16. That said, they played in front of essentially a home crowd in Greenville, SC, and have rarely covered this season. Frank Martin’s crew went 4-6 straight-up in the last 10 games before the NCAA Tournament, but were an atrocious 1-9 ATS. All told, they are 13-17-1 ATS this year.
Baylor is 14-15 against the number, and 3-2 over the last five games. The Bears are 3.5-point favorites, which is sizeable given the strength of SC’s defense. But don’t expect the same kind of offensive outburst from the Gamecocks now that they’re out of their home state. They’re shooting is going to come back to earth at MSG.
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