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College Basketball Betting – Thursday Sweet 16 Picks

No region was spared from the chaos we saw in the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It’s odd not to see the No. 1 seed in either the East or West Region reach the Sweet 16 opening the door for any number of possibilities. In what is the most anticipated matchup on Thursday, at least for fans on the West Coast, the Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the highest remaining seed among Thursday’s competitors the UCLA Bruins. After slaying top-seed Kansas in the second round, the Arkansas Razorbacks look to continue their march through the madness against Connecticut.

If it wasn’t for Princeton in the South Region the FAU Owls would be the talk of the Sweet 16. The No. 9 seed didn’t have to face Purdue in the second round after upsetting Memphis and instead took down 16-seed FDU to reach the second weekend. The Owls have won nine straight games going 6-3 ATS and are the biggest dogs on Thursday catching 5.5 points. The final matchup features powerful teams from power conferences with Michigan State taking on Kansas State. The Spartans are the only one of eight Big Ten teams to advance past the first week.

Michigan State Spartans ( -2 ) vs. Kansas State Wildcats

Both teams were tested with brutal conference schedules to get here and neither won their regular season or championship tournament, so I guess there’s something to be said about the selection process. The teams certainly deserve to be here after both won their second round games as slight underdogs. MSU edged second-seed Marquette 69-60 with a gritty defensive effort after holding USC to 62 points in the opener. Guard play for both teams has been exceptional with MSU’s Tyson Walker spearheading an offense among the best in shooting threes. Sparty showed how good they are against Marquette, though, making just 2 of 16 triples they clamped down defensively holding the Golden Eagles to 38 percent shooting and forcing 16 turnovers. The Wildcats have their own special player in Markquis Nowell, who has 44 points, 23 assists and is shooting 43 percent from behind the arc. Keyontae Johnson is pretty good too giving K-State a tough duo to defend.

Sweet 16 Pick: Kansas State +2

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. UConn Huskies ( -4 )

I’d like to see UConn win so we don’t get another Eric Musselman strip tease. In all seriousness that’s what March Madness is all about and knocking off a No. 1 seed is a pretty big deal. We saw the Hogs’ depth and athleticism on display against Kansas with Ricky Council IV scoring 21 points in 40 minutes and Davonte Davis adding 25 on 9 of 15 shooting. Arkansas has issues defensively and they were exploited by the top teams in the SEC. UConn is efficient with the basketball using Adama Sanogo as its main weapon. Sanogo also helps the Huskies dominate on the offensive glass, a concern for the smaller Hogs. With multiple scorers the Huskies are tough to defend and with Sanogo in the middle I like UConn to cover and advance.

Sweet 16 Pick: UConn -4

Florida Atlantic Owls vs. Tennessee Volunteers ( -5.5 )

This is definitely a step up in competition for FAU and they will feel it on the court. The Vols could put four players at 6-6 or taller in the lineup to wear down the undersized Owls. The bully tactics Tennessee employed against Duke in the second round were successful leading to a 65-52 cover win and the Vols will look to execute a similar gameplan. At 33-3 the Owls are having their best season in program history, however they haven’t faced a power conference opponent since November and they haven’t faced a team as good as Tennessee all season. There is one thing to make up the difference and that’s the extra point on long field goals. The Owls shoot a lot of threes and they’ve been successful. That trend has to continue for the FAU upset or to at least stay within the spread.

Sweet 16 Pick: FAU +5.5

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. UCLA Bruins ( -2 )

I have the Bruins reaching the title game in my bracket so my outlook on the game might be skewed. I like UCLA’s experience and the veteran players bought into playing defense. This might be the toughest defensive team the Zags play all season making it tough on them to score. When the Bruins struggle on defense they have talent on the other end of the floor led by Jaime Jacquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell. The loss of Jaylen Clark will impact the Bruins in this game more than any other against Gonzaga’s high scoring offense, but the Bruins returned a number of players from a successful run last year and some of the guys were around two years when the Zags pulled off a buzzer-beating stunner. I like UCLA’s experience to be the difference.

Sweet 16 Pick: UCLA -2

View today’s March Madness betting odds.

Jake Flynn
Jake Flynn
Senior writer for Writes NBA, NCAA basketball, MLB, UFC and daily fantasy sports articles.

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