The 2014 NCAA tournament is set to resume shortly, but it isn’t too late to make your picks for the upcoming Sweet 16 games.
Whether you are up or down after a wild opening week of March Madness, it is time to get back to the sportsbook and start making some smart selections for this crop of contests.
Let's take a look at the complete schedule for the round, plus highlight the updated odds, make some predictions against the spread and more for each game.
|Date||Regional Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Odds|
|Thu, March 27||(11) Dayton vs. (10) Stanford||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Stanford -3|
|Thu, March 27||(6) Baylor vs. (2) Wisconsin||7:47 p.m.||TBS||Wisconsin -3.5|
|Thu, March 27||(4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Florida -5|
|Thu, March 27||(4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona||10:17 p.m.||TBS||Arizona -7.5|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Michigan -2.5|
|Fri, March 28||(7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State||7:27 p.m.||TBS||Iowa State -1.5|
|Fri, March 28||(8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Louisville -4|
|Fri, March 28||(4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia||9:57 p.m.||TBS||Michigan State -1.5|
ESPN and ScoresandOdds
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Best Sweet 16 Bet: Baylor (+3.5) over Wisconsin
Betting underdogs has been quite profitable during this edition of the Big Dance, as a number of higher seeds have come through and surprised everyone. Count Baylor as one of those squads, with the Bears pulling off a shocking upset of the Creighton Bluejays in the third round.
BU dominated from the get-go, limiting the nation’s leading scorer, Doug McDermott, to just 15 points in a 30-point blowout victory. The team was beyond hot from deep, dropping in a scorching 61.8 percent of its three-pointers in the contest.
It was a resounding performance that let the world know this group is for real and will undoubtedly challenge for supremacy in the West Region. While there is still a long road to the Final Four, the Bears could definitely get a step closer on Thursday.
Wisconsin looked incredibly vulnerable for the first 20 minutes of play during its third-round matchup with Oregon. The Badgers faced a 12-point deficit at the half but climbed out thanks to some great shooting and poor defense by an overwhelmed Ducks squad.
That sort of lackadaisical start will doom Wisconsin against a cutthroat opponent like Baylor, especially with the amount of weapons and motivation the Bears have going into this Sweet 16 game.
Anyone who has been closely following BU throughout the season should not be too surprised by the team’s win against the Bluejays. This group has proven to be one of the best in the nation over the past couple of months and has all the momentum in the world.
Which team will cover the spread?
They are motivated too, as many decided to pronounce Baylor’s 2013-14 season dead after a 2-8 start in the Big 12.
Unwilling to let that happen, the program rallied in mid-February with back-to-back overtime wins against Kansas State and Oklahoma State—two quality opponents that would go on to make the 68-team field in the NCAA tourney—that were a catalyst for a complete turnaround in Waco.
Seniors Cory Jefferson and Brady Heslip are Baylor’s leading scorers but don’t have much in common in terms of basketball ability, outside of their propensity for putting the ball in the basket.
Jefferson does much of his work down low, banging in the paint for easy looks at the basket and second-chance opportunities. Heslip, on the other hand, lurks outside and takes nearly seven three-pointers per game. He hits them at a high clip, converting 46.8 percent of those attempts into makes.
Wisconsin guard Ben Brust spoke highly of Heslip’s marksmanship and explained how his side would try to stop him, as per Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin:
Looking at just a little bit, you see what the coaches bring out there, I think he's got 117 3s on the year. I've got like, what, 228 in three years? That's a lot of numbers right there. He's got me beat in two years. He can fill it up. Just got to make sure we make him take some tough ones and try and make him put it on the floor.
Shot Analytics has a graphic of the Canadian native’s shot chart prior to the tourney:
Both stars are capable of taking over a game and will be a nightmare for the Badgers defense to deal with. Once you factor in the chip on the shoulder of the Baylor players, it is hard to imagine Wisconsin leaving this game with a victory.
Take the points here for an almost sure against-the-spread victory, but also consider the moneyline for a better payout if—and seemingly when—the Bears advance to the Elite Eight.