March Madness Betting Guide: Sweet 16, Friday
The NCAA tournament rolls on with the Sweet 16 continuing at 7:09 pm ET on Friday night.
Filling out a bracket is the main attraction for most sports fans this time of year, but the fun doesn't have to stop there. It's also the perfect opportunity to place some bets at NCAAB odds.
Which games should draw our attention? Let's find out.
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.
Saint Peter's Peacocks (15) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (3)
Let's face it, it's more than likely that their Cinderella run comes to an end on Friday, but that doesn't mean the Saint Peter's Peacocks are about to go quietly.
The Purdue Boilermakers have the top adjusted offense in the country, per BartTorvik, so it isn't shocking to see them as 12.5-point favorites over a 15 seed. There's no question that the Peacocks will have their hands full.
But Saint Peter's rates as the nation's 31st-best adjusted defense, and it's not like they played scrub offenses to get this far, besting Kentucky (6th in adjusted offense) and Murray State (43rd). The Peacocks' defensive prowess includes the fourth-best defensive effective field goal percentage (eFG%), too.
They could also be peaking at just the right time. Since a bad loss to Siena in February, Saint Peter's has now won nine games in a row and ranks fourth nationally in adjusted defense over that stretch. Sure, most of those victories came against lesser MAAC opponents, but as this tournament has shown, we probably shouldn't underestimate this team's defensive play.
It isn't all sunshine and rainbows for the Peacocks, though, as they aren't nearly as proficient offensively. They sit outside the top 200 in adjusted offense this season, and even during their win streak, they've just barely cracked the top 150.
Luckily for them, the Boilermakers are far from elite defensively, ranking 82nd in adjusted D. In fact, out of all Sweet 16 teams, Purdue has the second-worst adjusted defense behind only the Miami Hurricanes.
Going one step further, the Boilermakers infrequently force turnovers (346th in defensive turnover rate), which is great news for a Peacocks offense that often struggles to take care of the ball.
Both teams also rank outside the top 240 in adjusted tempo, and a slower-paced game also lends itself to Saint Peter's avoiding a large deficit.
Our model is a big fan of taking the Peacocks and the points and sees them covering at a 64.55% clip.
Providence Friars (4) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (1)
Perhaps the most over-seeded team in the entire tournament, you can be forgiven if didn't have the Providence Friars making it this far in your brackets. But it's one thing to get past double-digit seeds like South Dakota State and Richmond; it's another thing to knock out the 1 seed in your region.
The Kansas Jayhawks are a top-five college basketball team, per KenPom and BartTorvik, whereas the Friars don't crack the top 30 on either site. That performance gap has FanDuel Sportsbook pegging the Jayhawks as 7.5-point favorites, and there's reason to think they can beat that number.
Kansas is the superior team on both offense and defense. They're 5th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 23rd in adjusted defensive efficiency this season, per BartTorvik, while Providence is top 30 and top 60, respectively, in said metrics. To put things into perspective, the Friars are actually bottom five in both categories among Sweet 16 teams.
While Providence allowed fewer than 60 points in each of their tourney wins, they've actually been 101st in adjusted defense over their last 10 games, as well.
This spread feels about right -- it's not like the Friars are a bad team -- but the Jayhawks rate as the better squad pretty much across the board and should be able to cover in a relatively comfortable win.
Iowa State Cyclones (11) vs. Miami Hurricanes (10)
This is a clash of polar opposites. The Iowa State Cyclones have a stifling adjusted defense (5th), while Miami boasts a top-20 adjusted offense (18th).
However, they're also opposites in a less flattering way. Among Sweet 16 teams, the Cyclones own the second-worst remaining adjusted offense (170th), and the Hurricanes have the worst adjusted defense (120th). They're double-digit seeds for a reason.
Overall, it shakes out to both teams being top 50 on KenPom and BartTorvik, separated by just a handful of spots.
With the teams so evenly matched, the Hurricanes come away as mere 2.5-point favorites. But it's Miami's recent play that suggests that they're the pick.
According to BartTorvik, the Hurricanes have played like a top-20 team over their last 10 games. Iowa State is 60th over that span, which is easily the worst mark among all Sweet 16 teams.
Most notably, Miami has played better defensively (59th in adjusted defense), while Iowa State's offensive woes have remained unchanged (182nd in adjusted offense).
In fact, it's hard to find reasons to have any confidence in the Cyclones' ability to score. For the season, they're 203rd in eFG%, 294th in turnover rate, 253th in free throw rate, and 262nd in three-point percentage.
The Hurricanes are also coming off an impressive 18-point win over Auburn, the 13th-best team on KenPom. On the other hand, the Cyclones failed to reach 60 points in close wins over LSU and Wisconsin, and the Badgers were the worst 3 seed in the tournament by far.
The Hurricanes are a team trending upward, and it's hard to see an Iowa State offense stuck in neutral being able to score enough to win. I like Miami to cover the slight spread.