March Madness Betting Guide: Sweet 16, Sunday
numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.
For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a three-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for today's games with guidance from our model.
Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information. You can also look at our oddsFire tool to get a feel for what the betting public is doing.
Creighton +13.5: 5 Stars out of 5
Gonzaga is having a remarkable season, and they carry a perfect 28-0 record into the Sweet 16. We have the Zags ranked first in our nERD rankings with a rating of 23.69, which means we'd expect them to win by that number against an average opponent on a neutral court. But we do think the 13.5-point spread is a bit large against an opponent of the caliber of Creighton.
We rank the Bluejays 16th in nERD (14.02 rating), and we give them a 30.4% chance to beat Gonzaga. Creighton’s highest ranked opponent this season by our metrics was 10th-ranked Villanova (15.35), who they Bluejays beat during the regular season. Gonzaga is clearly a step above Villanova, but Creighton has proven they can compete and win against top competition.
Our model projects Gonzaga to win 76.66-71.48, so we this as a much closer game than oddsmakers do. We give Creighton a 72.68% chance to cover the 13.5-point spread, making this a five-star bet.
UCLA +6.5: 3 Stars out of 5
UCLA has had a roller-coaster season, as they won their first eight Pac-12 games and started 13-3 before dropping four straight heading into the NCAA Tournament. Since sneaking into the play-in game, the Bruins have defeated Michigan State in overtime and then picked up double-digit wins over BYU and Abilene Christian, so they have certainly regained their old form.
We rank UCLA 22nd (13.37 nERD), which is not far behind 7th-ranked Alabama (17.23). Alabama has won eight games in a row and deserves their high ranking, but they have not played a team ranked as highly as UCLA since their last loss, which was to 13th-ranked Arkansas.
We projects Alabama to win 72.79-71.06, so while we do rank the Tide higher, our algorithm does not have much separating these two teams. We give UCLA a 63.85% chance to cover the 6.5-point spread, rating this a three-star bet.
Oregon +2.0: 1 Star out of 5
Oregon had a fantastic campaign this year and finished 20-6 in the regular season. Last week, they dominated an Iowa squad that we ranked eighth with a 17.20 nERD, cruising to a 95-80 victory. We rank the Ducks 15th (14.43 nERD), and they are red-hot, winning 12 of their last 14 games.
On the flip side, USC has moved up to sixth in our rankings (17.87 nERD) after a 34-point victory over Kansas, who we have 29th (12.79 nERD). The Trojans did struggle at the end of the regular season, however, losing four of their last eight games before the Big Dance.
Our projections have hardly nothing separating these two teams, forecasting a 71.06-70.92 victory for USC. While we give a slight nod to USC to win the game outright, we like the Ducks to cover the 2.0-point spread and give them a 55.95% likelihood to do so.