Who's moving on in NCAA Tournament? Consider betting these teams

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 23 Mar, 2024 at 02:15 PM

Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

After a typical NCAA Tournament first-round entertainment extravaganza, we're left to analyze which teams are legitimate and which might be a one-win-and-done pretender.

As Round 2 begins Saturday, here are best-guess predictions and best bets for which teams will move to the Sweet 16 in each region.


North Carolina and Arizona fulfilled their duties as the region's No. 1 and 2 seeds, winning convincingly against overmatched schools.

Both are likely to move on after dispatching Michigan State and Dayton, respectively, on Saturday. But are they going to cover the spread?

North Carolina's go-to guys, RJ Davis and Armando Bacot, shook off the rust of the past couple of weeks and now must endure a game plan devised by Tom Izzo to stop them. While Izzo's Michigan State teams never lack discipline, it's the 3-point shooting (10-for-23 in their win over No. 8 seed Mississippi State) and the 3-point defense (6-for-27 for the Bulldogs) that could keep this very close.

The Tar Heels allowed North Carolina State to shoot 42.9 percent from 3-point range in their ACC tournament loss, and even their first-round opponent, No. 16 seed Wagner, hit 38.9 percent from long range.

The West bet: Two-leg parlay, Michigan State teased up to +4.5 with Arizona moneyline (+116 at BetMGM).

The West teams to advance: North Carolina, Arizona, Alabama, Baylor.


We realize the No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchups are generally lopsided (but don't tell Purdue's 2023 team that).

The top overall seed, UConn, flexed its guns big-time Friday and appears ready to bury this region. We're buying it.

Everyone loves an upset, but we can't seem to make a case for a straight-up victory by Duquesne (over Illinois), Washington State (over Iowa State) or Yale (over San Diego State).

Illinois could paste Duquesne if Terrence Shannon Jr. finds enough help from the likes of Dain Dainja (best name in the tournament) and Marcus Domask, who, despite contributing a triple-double in the opener against Morehead State, shot only 5-for-14.

The most intriguing game in the region is No. 13 seed Yale, which upset Auburn, taking on San Diego State, which needed a rally to stop No. 12 seed UAB.

The Ivy Leaguers must hit more than their fair share of 3s, of course, but if they slow Jaedon LeDee -- the Aztecs' only real consistent offensive threat -- it could be the Sweet 16 surprise of the day.

And Yale is finding respect among the bookmakers, pegged as only a 5.5-point underdog.

The East bet: UConn -14.5 over No. 9 Northwestern (-110 at DraftKings) and maybe a little something on Yale, you know, mainly for entertainment purposes.

The East teams to advance: UConn, Illinois, Iowa State, San Diego State.


Purdue will find the advantage of being a No. 1 region seed when it takes on Utah State. The Aggies are a nice story, but they're led by a big man -- Great Osobor (real name, yep) -- who must contend with Zach Edey, the likely repeat winner of the Naismith National Player of the Year.

Edey is all of 7-foot-4 and requires teams to do things they simply aren't comfortable doing. No. 8 Utah State put together a solid victory Friday against TCU, shooting 55 percent -- 42.1 percent from 3-point range.

Oregon is the team to watch, though, as coach Dana Altman aims to beat his former program, Creighton. Altman largely is responsible for beginning the build that brought the Bluejays to a power-program level.

Taking a No. 11 seed to the Sweet 16 is a special feat, and the Ducks can depend on big man N'Faly Dante to play Creighton star Ryan Kalkbrenner to a stand-off.

No. 5 Gonzaga has more firepower than No. 4 Kansas but Hunter Dickinson can be a real obstacle. The Gonzaga shooters need to bury the open 3s and hope random players such as the Jayhawks' Johnny Furphy don't pull off a March miracle.

Kansas is not deep; its starting five accounted for all but six points in a narrow 93-89 win over No. 13 Samford. Only one starter played fewer than 35 minutes.

And (cliche warning): No. 2 Tennessee is a team you just don't want to face right now. No. 7 Texas has Max Abmas, but the Volunteers have Dalton Knecht and plenty of veteran complements.

The Midwest bet: Oregon +5.5 (-120 at BetMGM).

The Midwest teams to advance: Purdue, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Oregon.


No. 4 Duke is kind of a mess, having slogged its way through the past couple of weeks. The Blue Devils now face a team with mounds of momentum: James Madison, which knocked out No. 5 seed Wisconsin pretty convincingly.

This is the region of the upset, but No. 1 Houston will not fail here. Too much defense and quality guard play.

No. 10 Colorado has a real chance to move forward again, having won its First Four game and then taking down Florida. On Sunday, the Buffaloes get No. 2 Marquette and a less-than 100 percent Tyler Kolek.

We don't even know what to say about the amazing No. 11 seed North Carolina State -- a team that can't quit winning. Now, the Wolfpack face perhaps their easiest task in the past several games, at least on paper: No. 14 seed Oakland.

The South bet: Two-leg parlay of James Madison, +7, and Colorado +4.5 (+264 at DraftKings).

The South teams to advance: Duke, Colorado, North Carolina State, Houston.

- Field Level Media