NCAA Basketball Tournament 2013: Favorites That Will Cover the Spread on Sunday

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2013

January 30, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators forward/center Erik Murphy (33) against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Favorites aren't safe in March and therefore neither are point spreads. 

While shocking upsets have defined the 2013 NCAA Tournament early on, a trio of top seeds are poised to stop the bleeding with huge wins to advance to the Sweet 16 on Sunday.

Below we'll break down three favorites poised to cover this weekend.

*All spread information according to


No. 2 Ohio State (-7) Over No. 7 Iowa State, West Region

A favorite of many to reach the Final Four in Atlanta this April, No. 2 Ohio State will tip off Sunday's round of 32 action against No. 7 Iowa State in Dayton, where the hometown Buckeyes will be favored by seven points.

Look for Thad Matta's squad to cover the spread with ease, however, as Ohio State has won nine straight games and ranks inside the top 20 nationally in scoring defense, holding teams to roughly 58 points per game this year.

Iowa State can score the ball—that's for sure. It ranks fourth in the country in points per game (79.6), but Ohio State's pace will make it nearly impossible for the Cyclones to advance on Sunday.

After all, Iowa State has won just two games this season in which it scored less than 73 points. Teams rarely reach the 70-point mark against the Buckeyes, as 15th-seeded Iona was the first team since mid-February to hit that mark on Friday.


No. 3 Florida (-8.5) Over No. 11 Minnesota

Things have opened up for the Gators in the South Region following No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast's shocking win over No. 2 Georgetown in Philadelphia. 

That said, expect Billy Donovan's squad to cover the spread against 11th-seeded Minnesota in Austin on Sunday. Look for the Gators' momentum to carry over to the weekend following their 32-point win over the nation's highest scoring team in the round of 64 on Friday.

Florida is a senior-laden team with tons of great shooters. Yes, there is always the risk of a perimeter-oriented team going cold from downtown, but the Gators are the eighth-best field-goal shooting team in the country. Although they will experience their fair share of droughts, they are sure to bounce back with some big scoring runs.

On the other side, Minnesota is a sensational rebounding team, but there won't be a ton of rebounds to reel in on Sunday considering Florida is shooting over 48 percent from the floor this season and features four players who are averaging 10 or more points per game.


No. 2 Duke (-5) Over No. 7 Creighton

The Blue Devils and Bluejays will play for the final spot in the Sweet 16 on Sunday night in Philadelphia.

Vegas likes the Blue Devils and is giving Creighton five points. But unless Doug McDermott goes off for 30-plus points against Duke on Sunday, it's difficult to imagine Creighton pushing Duke to the wire, especially given how strong Mike Krzyzewski's bunch have been with Ryan Kelly in the lineup (19-1 this season).

Plus, the Bluejays got to the foul line 25 times on Friday against Cincinnati, which aided them significantly in their narrow four-point win over the Bearcats. 

With the round of 64 jitters out of the picture, expect to see the tournament's top contenders, including Duke and Kansas to play more like themselves. The hot-shooting Blue Devils are one of the most efficient offensive teams in America, and the combination of seniors Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee will be too much to overcome for Creighton.


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