March Madness: Thursday’s Sweet 16 Games Preview, Predictions & Betting Picks

Josh Perkins: Sweet 16 predictionsOnce again, college basketball fans played witness to a wild weekend of upsets, almost upsets, and all the drama that comes with March Madness. As the tournament’s second week of action looms, it is time for the iconic Sweet 16 (games begin Thursday @ 7:09 PM ET and end Friday @ 9:59 PM ET).

Of the remaining 16 teams, there are four #1 seeds, four #2 seeds, four #3 seeds, the list goes on. In fact, for the most part, the brackets have held to form this year with only one team seeded lower than fifth having reached the Sweet 16. Chalk has seemed to reign supreme for the most part this year, however, that could all change over the course of the next two days.

We’ll be offering previews for all eight games. Here is our look at today’s four Sweet 16 matchups. Check back tomorrow for a look at Friday’s contests.

#4 Florida State vs #1 Gonzaga

In a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16, which was won by Florida State, the Seminoles and the Gonzaga Bulldogs are set to meet again this year. But this time around, Gonzaga will be looking to exact a little bit of revenge. The top recommended and trusted United States’ sportsbooks support them in this effort as the Bulldogs are favored a whopping seven points over the Seminoles.

Both teams are coming off of strong victories, especially in the second round where Florida State defeated Murray State by 32 and Gonzaga defeated Baylor by 12. The Bulldogs are one of the best offensive teams in the country. Ranked first in the nation in points per game (88.6) and offensive efficiency, Gonzaga is incredibly effective in the paint and has a way of adjusting the pace of the game to a rhythm that favors their style of play. That’s not to say that Florida State doesn’t have a chance however as they have one of the best shot-makers in the country in Josh Perkins, who averages almost 11 points and over six assists per game.

  • Take Gonzaga and the points and look for the over on 147 total points. You can bet on all these March Madness games with any of these major bookies: Bovada, Intertops, Bookmaker or BetOnline.

#2 Tennessee vs #3 Purdue

A classic #2 vs #3 seed matchup, Purdue is set to take on Tennessee tonight in the second of four Sweet 16 matchups on the day. Both teams reached this stage last year but neither were able to break through. One is guaranteed to reach the Elite 8 this time around and both the Boilermakers and Volunteers have reasonable cases as to why they team should be them.

Tennessee is coming off a tight victory in their second round matchup, one that came off the heels of them leading at one point by 25 points. While noted as a team with the potential to make a deep run, Tennessee has needed to pull out some close victories this tournament and that could be a tough ask against a strong Purdue team that recently dispatched the defending NCAA champions.

The Volunteers are led by Admiral Schofield and SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams, both of whom made big impacts on Tennessee’s overtime victory against Iowa. If these two can play the way they did against Iowa, Tennessee has a real shot at just their second Elite Eight this decade.

  • Our Sweet 16 game betting prediction is to take Tennessee -2pts and go under 147pts.

#2 Michigan vs #3 Texas Tech

It’s a battle of offense vs defense as Michigan takes on Texas Tech with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line. Michigan has won six of their last games including in the tournament where they have picked up big wins in their first two rounds. Meanwhile, Texas Tech has won 11 of their last 12 including big wins themselves, in their first two tournament games.

Both the Red Raiders and the Wolverines have played well this year and both have different strengths. Michigan is one of the best defenses in the country as they have only allowed opponents an average of 58.2 points per game. That’s good enough for second best in the NCAA.

Offensively, Texas Tech is a solid scoring team and one of the hottest teams in the nation right now. The Red Raiders have several players capable of putting up big numbers and did so in their second round meeting against Buffalo, where two players recorded double-doubles.

Texas Tech also has a solid defense and Michigan also has an efficient offense. It really could be anybody’s game.

  • Take Texas Tech +2pts and the over 126pts.

#1 Virginia vs #12 Oregon

In some ways, it might seem like Virginia drew an easy Sweet 16 opponent but as the only double-seeded team to make it through and past the second round, Oregon is no easy out. The Ducks picked up the notable 5/12 upset in the first round, defeating Wisconsin by 18 points before taking out #13 UV Irvine in the second round.

Virginia has handled their business, easily dispatching both Gardner Webb and Oklahoma in the tournament’s first two rounds. Tonight’s battle will feature these two defensive strongholds going one-on-one. The Cavaliers allow opponents just 55 points per game on average, which is good enough for top marks in the country.

Oregon ranks 13th, allowing just over 62 points per game. Although in the tournament, the Ducks have allowed just 54, putting them right alongside Virginia in that regard. As good as Virginia has been, proving themselves to be a different team than the one that was embarrassed as the only one-seed to lose to a 16-seed in the first round, the Cavaliers are making a strong final two case. However, Oregon is hot and expecting Virginia to cover is certainly not a foregone conclusion.

  • Take Oregon +8pts and go over 120 total points.