Sweet 16 Bracket 2021: Latest Odds, Over-Under Score Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 26, 2021

Alabama's Herbert Jones (1) Alabama's Jordan Bruner (2) celebrate a teammate's score against Maryland during the second half of a college basketball game in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The Alabama Crimson Tide have amazed us with their offensive play all season, but they have the defensive chops to shut down any opponent in their path to the national championship. 

Nate Oats' team will have to flex that strength even more in the second weekend of the NCAA men's basketball tournament as the opposition gets tougher. 

Alabama's Sweet 16 matchup with the UCLA Bruins should be decided by how well the Tide's top defenders shut down the red-hot scorers for the Pac-12 side. 

UCLA is one of four Pac-12 squads still alive, but that number could be trimmed to just one for the Elite Eight. 

The Oregon State Beavers will face a similar conundrum in their Sweet 16 showdown with the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, as their in-form offense has to find a way past a fantastic defense. 


Sweet 16 Schedule and Odds

Saturday, March 27

No. 8 Loyola-Chicago (-6.5) vs. No. 12 Oregon State (Over/Under: 125.5) (2:40 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 1 Baylor (-7.5) vs. No. 5 Villanova (O/U: 141) (5:15 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 3 Arkansas (-11.5) vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts (O/U: 159) (7:25 p.m. ET, TBS)

No. 2 Houston (-6) vs. No. 11 Syracuse (O/U: 139.5) (9:55 p.m. ET, TBS)


Sunday, March 28

No. 1 Gonzaga (-13.5) vs. No. 5 Creighton (O/U: 158) (2:10 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 1 Michigan (-2.5) vs. No. 4 Florida State (O/U: 143.5) (5 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 2 Alabama (-6.5) vs. No. 11 UCLA (O/U: 146) (7:15 p.m. ET, TBS)

No. 6 USC (-2) vs. No. 7 Oregon (O/U: 139) (9:45 p.m. ET, TBS)

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.


Score Predictions

Alabama 74, UCLA 63

Alabama's concession of 132 points so far in the NCAA tournament is not up to its high defensive standard. It held four of its last six SEC opponents under 70 points and extended that trend into the first round against the Iona Gaels. 

The Crimson Tide were never under a massive threat from the Maryland Terrapins, but giving up 77 points in a NCAA tournament game is not ideal. 

Maryland shot 53.3 percent from the field and knocked down 10 three-pointers to try to stay close with Alabama, but it hit 16 of its 33 three-point shots and was perfect from the free-throw line. 

If the Tide shoot like they did in the second round, few teams will be able to stop them. But they need to game-plan for a more average performance so its defense can be prepared for anything. 

The good news for Alabama is it already has a first-hand scouting report on UCLA's Johnny Juzang, who is a transfer from Kentucky. Any edge helps this time of year, and that could help Herbert Jones slow down the UCLA guard in a one-on-one matchup.

The 22-year-old should be one of the top contenders for Defensive Player of the Year, and he could strengthen that case by limiting Juzang, who had 44 points in the last two rounds. 

UCLA easily surged past a tough defensive team in the Abilene Christian Wildcats, but the Southland Conference champion is nowhere close to Alabama from an offensive standpoint. In fact, the Tide may be the toughest defensive team the Bruins face all season.

If Jones causes trouble for Juzang and UCLA's other guards are affected by the lack of points or assists from him, Alabama could come away with some early stops and break the game open by halftime, just as it did against Maryland.


Loyola-Chicago 58, Oregon State 52

We are going to ease back into the madness on Saturday thanks to the grind-it-out style of Loyola-Chicago. 

The Ramblers do not play in many high-scoring games, and if they and Oregon State each hit 60 points in the Sweet 16 opener, we should be amazed. 

Porter Moser's side gave up 118 points in the first two rounds against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Illinois Fighting Illini. And the same ideas that were used to shut down those two teams will be utilized to stifle the red-hot Beavers guards. 

While Cameron Krutwig is the star down low, Loyola's guards are the engine of the team since they defend so well. They conceded over 60 points in two straight games just once this season, in nonconference play against the Wisconsin Badgers and Richmond Spiders on December 15 and 18, respectively.

Since then, four teams have reached the 60-point mark against the tough perimeter defense of Lucas Williamson and others. 

Just like UCLA with Alabama, Oregon State is likely facing its toughest defensive challenge of the season, and it is one that may dramatically slow down its scoring pace. 

Wayne Tinkle's Beavers scored at least 70 points in every victory of their five-game winning streak, but they also allowed three opponents to score more than 65. 

Although they beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys by 10 in the second round, the Beavers showed some defensive inefficiencies down the stretch as Cade Cunningham worked the deficit down to three points. 

If Oregon State is unable to score on Loyola, it may not have the wherewithal to deal with Krutwig in the paint and win a game in the 60s. 

A low-scoring game will suit Loyola and frustrate Oregon State's shooters early. The Ramblers could slow the pace down and grind out a win that does not require them to reach 60 points.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

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