NCAA Bracket 2019: Updated Odds and Picks Against the Spread for Sweet 16March 27, 2019
The NCAA Tournament has been noted for its stunning upsets and buzzer-beating shots. Just not this year.
The tournament has reached the Sweet 16, and 14 of the 16 teams remaining are top-four seeds. The only teams that have managed to upset the proceedings are 12th-seeded Oregon and fifth-seeded Auburn.
The Ducks will face No. 1 seed Virginia Thursday night, while the Tigers will battle No. 1 seed North Carolina Friday.
The absence of upsets does not make for a disappointing tournament. Instead, college basketball fans get to see the top teams competing against each other instead of upset-minded, wannabe Giant Killers.
In this piece, we give you predictions for all eight games, as well as a more detailed look at two of them.
Sweet 16 Schedule, Odds, Predictions (All Times ET; game odds courtesy of VegasInsider)
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (-7.5), 7:09 p.m., CBS; Gonzaga 78, FSU 73
No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 2 Tennessee (-1.5), 7:29 p.m., TBS; Purdue 74, Tennessee 70
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Michigan (-2), 9:39 p.m., CBS; Michigan 88, Texas Tech 76
No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 1 Virginia (-8.5), 9:59 p.m., TBS; Virginia 69, Oregon 59
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 2 Michigan State (-6), 7:09 p.m., CBS; Michigan State 77, LSU 69
No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 1 North Carolina (-5), 7:29 p.m., TBS; North Carolina 84, Auburn 81
No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 1 Duke (-7), 9:39 p.m., CBS; Duke 91, Virginia Tech 79
No. 3 Houston vs. No. 2 Kentucky (-3), 9:59 p.m., TBS; Houston 77, Kentucky 69
Team in bold to cover the point spread.
Odds to Win National Championship (via B/R Betting)
Duke +300 (Bet $100 to win $300)
North Carolina +500
Michigan State +1000
Texas Tech +2500
Florida State +4000
Virginia Tech +4000
Oregon vs Virginia
The Ducks haven't just squeaked by as the No. 12 seed, they have issued a pair of one-sided beatings to Wisconsin and UC-Irvine to reach the Sweet 16.
However, now they face their toughest assignment against the talented, tough and defensively savvy Cavaliers, who remain motivated by the embarrassment of last year's first-round defeat to 16th-seeded UMBC.
Oregon has been keyed by point guard Payton Pritchard, who scored 18 points in the win over the Anteaters, and high-jumping forward Kenny Wooten, who has swatted away 11 shots in the tournament.
The Ducks have been dangerous because they have played excellent defense all season (allowing 62.5 points per game, 12th in the nation) and their offense has found its rhythm at the most crucial point of the year.
Pritchard is averaging 13.0 points per game and connecting on 84.3 percent of his free throws, while forward Louis King is scoring 12.9 points per game and contributing 5.4 rebounds per night. Wooten blocks an impressive 2.2 shots per game, and he alters even more than that.
While the Oregon defense is good, it doesn't compare with Virginia's, which ranks first in the nation, allowing just 55.0 points per game. The Cavs were even better than that in the first two rounds of the tournament, allowing just 53.5 points per game.
Virginia has depth on offense, as high-scoring guard Kyle Guy was unable to convert any of his 10 three-point attempts in the second-round win over Oklahoma but the Cavs still earned a 63-51 triumph.
Guy should rebound from that poor shooting game, as he is averaging 15.1 points per game while converting 45.4 percent of his shots from the field and 43.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Fellow guard DeAndre Hunter is averaging 15.2 points and connecting on 52.9 percent of his shots. Ty Jerome is scoring 13.0 points while handing out 5.3 assists per game.
The Ducks have played some spectacular tournament basketball to this point, but Virginia won't allow them to have any more enjoyment in the Sweet 16.
LSU vs. Michigan State
The Tigers have already taken down one Big Ten team as they defeated Maryland 69-67 in the second round as a result of Tremont Waters' layup with less than two seconds remaining. Waters drove by three defenders before he tossed up a scoop shot that banked in for the winning points.
If this game comes down to LSU needing a layup or driving shot in crunch time, that may be much more difficult to pull off against Tom Izzo's defensively nasty and fundamentally sound Spartans.
LSU is going to need a peak effort to get by the Spartans, and the Tigers will depend on Waters, Naz Reid and Skylar Mays for the bulk of the offense.
Waters is averaging 15.0 points and 5.9 assists per game, while Reid is contributing 13.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Mays is adding 13.6 points per game and shooting a lights-out 86.0 percent from the free-throw line.
Michigan State struggled in its first-round win against Bradley, but the Spartans asserted themselves in the last five minutes of the game to survive and advance. The second-round game against Big Ten foe Minnesota was much easier as the Spartans cruised to a 70-50 win.
Michigan State is often steeled by this point in the year because the Spartans play an unusually tough non-conference schedule before going to work in the hard-hat-required Big Ten. That toughness should help Cassius Winston & Co. survive this matchup.
Winston is the team's leader and most explosive scorer with an average of 18.9 points and 7.5 assists per game. Nick Ward is scoring 13.7 points and collecting 6.2 boards per game, while Matt McQuaid is contributing 9.9 points per game.
LSU is good enough to give the Spartans a battle in the first half, but Michigan State takes control in the final 20 minutes and advances to its showdown with Duke.