For part two of our Sweet 16 betting guide, we assess the games of the East and South regions, which will be taking place this Friday, March 24th. Yesterday, we analyzed the matchups in the West and Midwest regions, the full preview of which can be found here.
(SOUTH) No. 4 Butler vs No. 1 North Carolina (3/24 – 7:09 PM ET on CBS): The South region has pretty much held to form and that of course includes this game, which matches the two seeds which were expected to advance to this round. This is an intriguing showdown but one that either team could win. For the Tar Heels, they’ve looked like the top team they have been most of the year. Fresh off an early exit in the ACC conference tournament, there were doubts about North Carolina as a top seed. To some extent, the Tar Heels have quelled these doubts, although against No. 8 Arkansas, they did have to stave off a run by the Razorbacks late in the game. Butler meanwhile, is just one of top remaining Big East teams left in the tournament. They have looked good thus far but the level of competition the Bulldogs have faced is nothing in comparison to what awaits them in the round of 16. It’s no surprise North Carolina enters this one as pretty big favorites. Take the Tar Heels to come out this one relatively easy so take UNC to cover the seven points. Take the under on 153 total points.
(EAST) No. 3 Baylor vs No. 7 South Carolina (3/24 – 7:20 PM ET on TBS): To say that South Carolina beating No. 2 to advance to this game was an upset is a bit of an understatement. The Blue Devils were penned by many to reach and win the whole NCAA tournament after winning the ACC tournament and looking like one of the hottest teams in the country. But Duke lost to South Carolina and that makes the Gamecocks a very dangerous team for Baylor to face. According to ESPN’s re-seeding report, Baylor is considered the worst of the teams left in the field. They handled No. 14 New Mexico State and then were challenged by a tough No. 11 USC team, but still both wins were against double digit seeds. South Carolina meanwhile jumps to the 11th best team in the field, thanks to a complete and decisive win over Duke and the fact that Sindarius Thomas is playing lights out thus far. Will Cinderella keep dancing? The odds have Baylor as 3.5 point favorites but take South Carolina to emerge victorious in this one. Go with the over on 135 as well.
(SOUTH) No. 3 UCLA vs No. 2 Kentucky (3/24 – 9:39 PM ET on CBS): This is the chalk match-up we’ve all been waiting for as a talented UCLA team takes on a John Calipari led team which is always dangerous and a threat in the NCAA tournament. Both teams have looked good through the first two rounds, especially UCLA, which has yet to really be challenged. Kentucky on the other hand fought through a tough second round game against the underseeded No. 10 Wichita State. The Wildcats are firing on all cylinders right now, doing so thanks to contributions of yet another strong class which looks to send three players to the first round of the NBA draft this summer. The biggest thing for them will be the performance of Malik Monk, who has been up and down so far. If he doesn’t play well, Kentucky could be susceptible to an upset. UCLA is a great team and Lonzo Ball is coming off a great game. Offensively, no one can keep up with UCLA right now, not to mention, this is the same team that owns a win against Kentucky from this past December. This one is expected to be close with just a one point spread favoring UCLA. Take the Bruins and the points to advance to the Elite 8. Take the over on 165 points as well.
(EAST) No. 4 Florida vs No. 8 Wisconsin (3/24 – 9:59 PM ET on TBS): Our last Sweet 16 matchup comes out of what had been first overall seed Villanova’s region, before Wisconsin decided to change that narrative. A tough team with their own pedigree of strong NCAA tournament performances, the Badgers came out strong and played a complete game to take down the defending national champions. That’s definitely a huge thing for Wisconsin, which ESPN reseeded as the third best team in the field, to have under their belt. Florida however is no slouch either. The Gators have looked great so far, easily winning their first round game and then holding No. 5 Virginia to just 39 points in 40 minutes. Florida had its struggles prior to March Madness, but they’ve gotten hot at the right time and are by far the best defensive unit left in the field. These two teams are evenly matched and both are playing well. This should be another close one. The winner of this game could end up making a deep run into next week and that team should be Florida, who are favored by just two points. Take the Gators to cover the spread and take the under on 132 as well.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.