NCAA Bracket 2021: Updated Odds and Picks Against the Spread for Sweet 16

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 25, 2021

NCAA Bracket 2021: Updated Odds and Picks Against the Spread for Sweet 16

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    March Madness has lived up to its name thus far. Who had four double-digit seeds, including No. 15-seeded Oral Roberts, reaching the Sweet 16 round of this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament? 

    Things could get even wilder when tournament play resumes Saturday with four Sweet 16 matchups. Then, the other four games in the round will take place Sunday, meaning the Elite Eight field will be set by the end of the weekend.

    While there have been some huge upsets, there are still some top teams alive in the tourney. Three No. 1 seeds are in the Sweet 16, as Gonzaga (the No. 1 overall seed), Baylor and Michigan each won its first two games of March Madness. Illinois is the only No. 1 seed that has been eliminated.

    Here's the full schedule for the Sweet 16, along with odds and picks for each game.  

Sweet 16 Schedule, Odds, Picks

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Saturday, March 27

    No. 8 Loyola Chicago (-6.5) vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 2:40 p.m. ET, CBS

    No. 1 Baylor (-7) vs. No. 5 Villanova, 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS

    No. 3 Arkansas (-11.5) vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts, 7:25 p.m. ET, TBS

    No. 2 Houston (-6) vs. No. 11 Syracuse, 9:55 p.m. ET, TBS


    Sunday, March 28

    No. 1 Gonzaga (-13.5) vs. No. 5 Creighton, 2:10 p.m. ET, CBS

    No. 1 Michigan (-2.5) vs. No. 4 Florida State, 5 p.m. ET, CBS

    No. 2 Alabama (-6.5) vs. No. 11 UCLA, 7:15 p.m. ET, TBS

    No. 6 USC (-2) vs. No. 7 Oregon, 9:45 p.m. ET, TBS

    Picks in bold against the spread. Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Pac-12 Will Have Two Teams Reach Elite Eight

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    One of the biggest storylines of the NCAA tournament thus far has been the exceptional play of the Pac-12 programs. Four teams from the conference are in the Sweet 16—No. 6 USC, No. 7 Oregon, No. 11 UCLA and No. 12 Oregon State—and it's guaranteed that at least one will reach the Elite Eight, with USC and Oregon going head-to-head on Sunday night.

    That's a matchup that could go either way, as the Trojans and Ducks have both impressed so far in the tournament. USC owns wins over No. 11 Drake and No. 3 Kansas. Oregon advanced to the second round when No. 10 VCU withdrew because of a positive COVID-19 test, then the Ducks knocked off No. 2 Iowa.

    Expect a second Pac-12 team to join either USC or Oregon in the Elite Eight. It's more likely that will be Oregon State, as UCLA is going to have a tough time trying to get past No. 2 Alabama.

    The Beavers will be taking on No. 8 Loyola Chicago, which is a program that knows what it takes to make a surprising deep tournament run. The Ramblers reached the Final Four as a No. 11 seed in 2018, and they've defeated No. 9 Georgia Tech and No. 1 Illinois in this year's tourney.

    However, Oregon State is playing well and had little trouble defeating No. 5 Tennessee and No. 4 Oklahoma State. The Beavers will continue to excel offensively and will knock off Loyola Chicago to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 1982.

Three Remaining No. 1 Seeds Will All Win in Sweet 16

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Illinois may not have made it past the second round, but the other three No. 1 seeds have all made it to the Sweet 16. And all three have a strong chance of advancing to the Elite Eight, too.

    Gonzaga remains unbeaten at 28-0, and it hasn't been tested in its first two games of the tournament. The Bulldogs have won all but one of their games this season by at least 10 points, and they had no trouble against No. 16 Norfolk State and No. 8 Oklahoma. They're likely to keep rolling against No. 5 Creighton and should notch another sizable victory.

    Baylor has lost only two games this season, but one of those came in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament when it fell to Oklahoma State. But the Bears had no trouble bouncing back to open the NCAA tourney, beating No. 16 Hartford and No. 9 Wisconsin. Expect another win for Baylor against No. 5 Villanova.

    It's been a tough tournament for the Big Ten, which had nine teams reach March Madness. Now, Michigan is the only team from the conference remaining, after it opened the tourney with wins over No. 16 Texas Southern and No. 8 LSU. The Wolverines now face No. 4 Florida State, and they should pull out a win, even though it may be a close game.

    There's a solid chance that one of these three teams ends up winning the national title. But for now, all three will win their Sweet 16 matchup and keep their tournament runs going.

Oral Roberts Will at Least Cover Spread vs. Arkansas

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    With upset wins over No. 2 Ohio State and No. 7 Florida, Oral Roberts became only the second No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament (Florida Gulf Coast was the first in 2013). Now, the Golden Eagles will look to become the first No. 15 seed to make it to the Elite Eight.

    Few likely thought Oral Roberts had a chance to make it this far. Yet it beat Ohio State 75-72 in overtime in the opening round, then carried that momentum into the second round, where it defeated Florida 81-78. The Golden Eagles are playing close games, but they're finding ways to pull out victories against the odds.

    Preparing to face No. 3 Arkansas, Oral Roberts will again be a large underdog in the Sweet 16, as the Razorbacks are currently 11.5-point favorites. But the Golden Eagles have been playing well, led by the duo of sophomore guard Max Abmas (24.5 points per game this season) and junior forward Kevin Obanor (19.0).

    Can Oral Roberts keep this underdog run going? Possibly. But at the least, the Golden Eagles should keep things close once again and play a competitive game against the Razorbacks. Bet on Oral Roberts to cover the spread, as if it loses, it will be by 11 or fewer points.


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