March Madness Betting Guide: Sweet 16, Thursday
The second week of the NCAA tournament gets underway with the Sweet 16 at 6:30 pm ET on Thursday 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 on the college basketball odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
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.
Michigan State (7) vs. Kansas State (3)
Kansas State +1.5 (-110)
Kansas State ML (+104)
Despite the Kansas State Wildcats making our top-10 overrated teams list entering the tournament -- likely explaining why they're an underdog to the lower-seeded Michigan State Spartans -- there might be value in siding with them.
The Wildcats may not be a deserving 3 seed, but they still rate as the better team according to all of KenPom, BartTorvik, and our nERD rankings. Kansas State comes in at 21st, 23rd, and 22nd, respectively, whereas Michigan State is 24th, 24th, and 30th. It's very, very close, but it suggests that K-State may actually be the underrated team now.
It's easy to see why these two teams are pretty evenly matched, though. The Wildcats are 57th in adjusted offense and 18th in adjusted defense, per BartTorvik, and the Spartans are 34th and 33rd in those metrics.
At the end of the day, it's easy to see this one going either way. But between Kansas State's slight edge and the favorable pricing, they look like the better team to back, and numberFire's model projects Kansas State +1.5 to cover 56.7% of the time.
Our model also sees K-State winning straight up at a 52.6% clip, and while that might not seem like much, it's a value compared to the 49.0% implied odds at +104 on the moneyline -- and even more so if you can find better odds.
Arkansas (8) vs. Connecticut (4)
Connecticut -3.5 (-115)
Over 139.5 (-112)
While the Arkansas Razorbacks are coming off an impressive win after knocking off the defending champs, Kansas made our overrated teams list as arguably the weakest 1 seed. Couple that with the Connecticut Huskies being one of the tourney's most underrated seeds, and this spread may not be high enough.
According to all of KenPom, BartTorvik, and nERD, the Huskies are the fourth-best team in the country despite being "just" a 4 seed. On the other hand, Arkansas is in the 17-18 range across the three rating systems.
Although both teams boast top-20 adjusted defenses, per BartTorvik, the difference comes down to offense. UConn owns the nation's 3rd-best adjusted offense, while the Razorbacks are just 42nd.
More specifically, the Huskies rank 2nd in offensive rebounding rate and 33rd in effective field goal percentage, and with fairly high marks in both three-point shooting percentage (62nd) and three-point attempt rate (71st), they average the 30th-most three-pointers per game.
Meanwhile, Arkansas sits outside the top 100 in effective field goal percentage and offensive (and defensive) rebounding rate, and they're dismal from beyond the arc, ranking 317th in three-point shooting percentage.
Our model isn't seeing as much value in the spread as I do, but it does project Connecticut for a 61.0% win probability, and BartTorvik sees them winning by 4.6 points.
You can also consider taking the over, which our model gives a 60.9% chance of happening. UConn's elite offense speaks for itself, and while Arkansas isn't quite as strong in that regard, they're still a top-50 unit, and they should force the Huskies to play at a quicker pace, ranking 58th in adjusted tempo.