NCAA Scores 2021: Odds, Spread Predictions, Betting Advice for Sweet 16 BracketMarch 27, 2021
Before the start of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Villanova Wildcats weren't considered a title contender because of injuries.
But during the first two rounds, Jay Wright's team proved it could have championship potential by handling the Winthrop Eagles and North Texas Mean Green. Villanova faces a massive step up in competition Saturday against the Baylor Bears, but it has the talent to give the No. 1 seed a test.
Prior to the Baylor-Villanova clash, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers will try to keep their stellar defensive record in place against the Oregon State Beavers.
Both Loyola and Baylor have had the spreads move in their favor since the matchups were determined. Loyola-Chicago moved up a half-point to a seven-point favorite, while Baylor's line increased a full point to 7.5.
Sweet 16 Schedule and Odds
Saturday, March 27
No. 8 Loyola-Chicago (-7) vs. No. 12 Oregon State (Over/Under: 124.5) (2:40 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 1 Baylor (-7.5) vs. No. 5 Villanova (O/U: 142) (5:15 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 3 Arkansas (-11.5) vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts (O/U: 158.5) (7:25 p.m. ET, TBS)
No. 2 Houston (-6.5) vs. No. 11 Syracuse (O/U: 141) (9:55 p.m. ET, TBS)
Sunday, March 28
No. 1 Gonzaga (-13) 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: 145.5) (7:15 p.m. ET, TBS)
No. 6 USC (-2) vs. No. 7 Oregon (O/U: 138) (9:45 p.m. ET, TBS)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Predictions against the spread in bold.
Rely on Villanova to Keep It Close with Baylor
The last two times Villanova qualified for the Sweet 16, it won the national championship.
The Wildcats have a tough path just to get to the Final Four, with Baylor and potentially the Arkansas Razorbacks in their way.
But even if Villanova does not win Saturday, it should keep the contest within eight points to cover the spread. Against Winthrop and North Texas, Villanova showed it could have an efficient offense without the injured Collin Gillespie.
In the second round, Villanova had four of its five starters reach double figures, and its best player, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, chipped in 18 points, six rebounds and six assists. Robinson-Earl could be the key to breaking down Baylor's defense that conceded 118 points versus the Hartford Hawks and Wisconsin Badgers.
Just like Villanova, Baylor is facing a step up in competition from its first two games, and it could be susceptible to conceding a high total. In their last five games before the men's NCAA tournament, the Bears conceded at least 70 points to four opponents. All of those concessions were against Top 25 squads.
In total, Baylor played in four games against ranked sides in Big 12 play that it won by eight points or fewer.
Although this is a different Wildcats team than the ones that won it all in 2016 and 2018, it is worth noting Villanova scored more than 70 points in seven of its eight games from the Sweet 16 and beyond in those title runs.
If Villanova scores at the same 70-80 point clip that it did in the first two rounds, it could at least put pressure on Baylor and cover.
Put Trust in Loyola-Chicago's Defense
The one sure thing about the eight Sweet 16 matchups is the quality of Loyola-Chicago's defense.
Porter Moser's side shut down one of the most explosive offenses in the country in the second round, holding the Illinois Fighting Illini to 58 points.
During their eight-game winning streak, the Ramblers have held seven foes to a maximum of 60 points, which could be bad news for the red-hot Oregon State Beavers.
Oregon State put up at least 70 points during its five-game winning run, but it has not faced the same quality of defense that Loyola-Chicago possesses.
Loyola has the potential to shut down Oregon State's three-point shooting that pushed it through to the Sweet 16. The Ramblers limited Illinois and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to 7-of-24 from three-point range, and if they stifle Oregon State's guards, they may open up a wide margin.
Offensively, Loyola has the advantage down low through Cameron Krutwig, who is building a strong case to be named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Krutwig has at least 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists in three of his past four games. If Loyola successfully runs its offense through the big man again, the separation could be created early.
If Loyola advances, it would face an intriguing defensive battle no matter which team advances out of the other Midwest Region game between the Syracuse Orange and Houston Cougars.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.
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