March Madness Sweet 16 Odds, Picks and Predictions: UConn Huskies Are the Heavy Favorites

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The bracket is finally out, and March Madness is here, so it’s a good time to take a big picture look at the college basketball teams poised to make some noise in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Who can advance past that first weekend of March Madness and get into the Sweet 16? It’s not always the teams you expect. The tournament’s top three overall seeds — UConn (the defending national champion), Houston and Purdue — are the favorites to get to the Sweet 16, but there are always March Madness sleeper teams capable of getting hot and winning a few games.

With the tournament field set and the first-round games still a few days away, it’s a good time to map out your bracket with an eye toward specific futures markets, like the March Madness odds and the Sweet 16 odds. Identifying teams with the ability to reach that juncture of the tournament can be a profitable approach to your March Madness futures betting.

2024 Sweet 16 odds

Team Odds
UConn -650
Purdue -475
Houston -340
Arizona -285
Iowa State -260
Auburn -250
North Carolina -220
Tennessee -210
Creighton -190
Marquette -135
Baylor -125
Illinois -120
Duke -110
Kentucky -105
Alabama +110

Odds provided by DraftKings – accurate as of Mar. 18

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Sweet 16 picks and predictions

East: UConn, Iowa State, Auburn, BYU

UConn, the defending national champion, is the No. 1 seed in the East and the top overall seed in the tournament. But the Huskies received a really tough draw with the tournament champions from the Big 12 (Iowa State), Big Ten (Illinois) and SEC (Auburn) all landing in the region.

Florida Atlantic or Northwestern awaits the Huskies in the second round, but UConn should push through to the Sweet 16 without much resistance. Auburn looks like a good bet to reach that stage, too. The Tigers have the skill and athleticism to play multiple styles. That’s always a good asset in a tournament like this.

Illinois has one of the tournament’s best players in Terrance Shannon Jr., but seems ripe for an early exit due to defensive deficiencies and the tendency for lackadaisical play. BYU, the No. 6 seed, can upset Illinois and get to the Sweet 16.

Iowa State could face some trouble, too. The Cyclones will meet the winner of the first-round meeting between No. 7 seed Washington State and No. 10 seed Drake. It won’t be easy, but ISU can lean on its tenacious defense and push through to the Sweet 16.

Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

South: Houston, Kentucky, Duke, Florida

Houston, on the heels of an ugly loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament, should come out refocused and put the clamps on either Nebraska or Texas A&M in the second round. If it’s Nebraska, Keisei Tominaga can put a scare into the Cougars if he gets hot from the outside, but UH’s guards are too good to let that happen.

Elsewhere in the South Region, Wisconsin will be a popular pick to get upset but the Badgers will get past James Madison in a high-scoring game to set up a second-round matchup with Duke. The Blue Devils have the talent advantage and will squeak past AJ Storr and the Badgers to get into the Sweet 16.

Kentucky has had some rough tournament moments in recent seasons, but the Wildcats will ride Reed Sheppard into the Sweet 16 this year. Additionally, Florida gets the second-round upset over No. 2 seed Marquette and gets into the Sweet 16 as a No. 7 seed.

Midwest: Purdue, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Oregon

Bold prediction: Purdue will get past the first round this year. The Boilermakers were shocked by Fairleigh-Dickinson as a No. 1 seed last year but should get out of the first round and then knock off TCU in the Round of 32 to get into the Sweet 16.

Tennessee, the Midwest’s No. 2 seed, got into the Sweet 16 last year and should get back to that stage again with Dalton Knecht leading the way. Knecht, a transfer from Northern Colorado, may have been the national player of the year if it weren’t for Zach Edey, Purdue’s 7-foot-4 senior.

Gonzaga is flying under the radar this season compared to other years, and without that spotlight this seems like the perfect time to buy low on the Bulldogs making a run. The Bulldogs beat Kansas in the second round. The Jayhawks lack depth and are dealing with injuries to key players.

Let’s get a double-digit seed into the Sweet 16. How about Oregon? The Ducks made a spirited run through the Pac-12 tournament and can pull off a pair of upsets — over South Carolina and Creighton — to keep that run going.

Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

West: North Carolina, Arizona, Baylor, Charleston

The West Region feels like it has the potential for some upsets particularly in the first round with No. 12 seed Grand Canyon and No. 13 seed Charleston. If those two knock off Alabama and Saint Mary’s respective, look for Charleston to push through to the Sweet 16.

Otherwise, the top seeds have favorable draws. New Mexico, the No. 11 seed, is favored over No. 6 seed Clemson and should give Baylor a fight, but the Bears will ultimately advance.

Elsewhere, top seeds North Carolina and Arizona have clear paths to the Sweet 16. UNC could have to face Michigan State in the second round. With veteran coach Tom Izzo leading the way, MSU is known to make some noise in March. This time, UNC will prevail over an inconsistent Spartans team.

Sweet 16 best bets

Gonzaga (+135): A No. 5 seed, Gonzaga was seeded higher than many anticipated but has the chance to make another deep NCAA tournament run. The Bulldogs have won 14 of their last 16 games, including an impressive road win over Kentucky. Graham Ike has been a beast all year long, but the Bulldogs can get production from a variety of pieces. Mark Few’s team is flying under the radar this season but has the versatility postseason experience to get to the Sweet 16 — and potentially beyond.

Charleston (+1300): Last year, Charleston was talked up as a lower seed that could make a deep run but that did not materialize as the Cougars lost by six in the first round to San Diego State. SDSU went all the way to the national title game where it lost to UConn. This year, Charleston has Alabama in the first round. Alabama plays at a very fast tempo, turns the ball over way too much and shoots a ton of threes. Charleston can win that game to set up a matchup with either Saint Mary’s or Grand Canyon in the second round. At +1300, Charleston is worth a bet if you’re looking for a long shot.

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Which schools have made the most Sweet 16 appearances?

Team Appearances
Kentucky 44
North Carolina 35
Kansas 32
Duke 32
Louisville 24
Syracuse 24
Indiana 22
Michigan State 21
Villanova 19
Arizona 19
Kansas State 18
Notre Dame 17
UConn 17
Michigan 17
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Things to consider with March Madness Sweet 16 odds

While there are always first-round upsets, it can be hard to follow up one stellar performance with another. To get to the Sweet 16, a team needs to win two games. If you’re considering wagering on a double-digit seed to reach the Sweet 16, it’s best to map out projected second-round matchups and how the team you’re eyeing would match up with its potential Round 2 opponents.

Additionally, you will typically have to pay a pretty heavy price to back the top seeds. The value usually lies elsewhere.

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March Madness Sweet 16 FAQs

What is the March Madness Sweet 16?

Following an initial round of “First Four” games, the NCAA tournament is divided into four regions with 16 teams in each region. The teams that advance beyond the first and second rounds in their respective region advance to the third round of the tournament, which is known as the Sweet 16 because there are 16 teams remaining at that point in the tournament.

The Sweet 16 is essentially the quarterfinal round for each respective region. There are eight Sweet 16 matchups in all, and the winners of those matchups advance to the Elite Eight. The losers are eliminated from national championship contention.

Where is the March Madness Sweet 16?

The Sweet 16 games will take place at four different sites. The East Regional will be played at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The South Regional will be played at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Midwest Regional will be played at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The West Regional will be played at the Arena in Los Angeles, California.

When is the March Madness Sweet 16?

The Sweet 16 will be played on March 28 and 29.

What teams were in the 2023 Sweet 16?

In last year’s NCAA tournament, Kansas State, Tennessee, Michigan State and Florida Atlantic advanced to the Sweet 16 from the East Region.

Houston, Texas, Xavier and Miami made it from the Midwest Region.

Alabama, San Diego State, Creighton and Princeton emerged from the South Region.

And from the West Region, it was UCLA, Gonzaga, UConn and Arkansas who advanced to the Sweet 16.

How can I watch March Madness Sweet 16?

The specific television assignments for the Sweet 16 have not been announced yet. The games will be broadcast on CBS or on one of its affiliates.

What is the best sportsbook to bet on the Sweet 16?

All of the major sportsbooks offer odds on teams to advance to the Sweet 16. The odds can vary from book to book, so be sure to wager using the best odds as there could be a more favorable payout at one book compared to another.

Want more insights on March Madness betting markets?

If you’re looking for more expert insight into March Madness odds and getting an edge on the rest of the market. Check out more of our articles:

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