After taking a few days to recharge, it is time to load up another weekend of college basketball.
The Sweet 16 will take place on Thursday and Friday, with the second day featuring the two favorites to win the national title. Alabama, the No. 1 overall seed, will face San Diego State in the first game of Friday’s slate. Houston will square off with Miami, as Kelvin Sampson’s squad is two wins away from returning home for the Final Four.
Who will advance to the regional final to wrap up the Sweet 16 on Friday? Let’s find out.
Betting odds for March 24
San Diego State vs. Alabama (-7.5) | Total: 137
Miami vs. Houston (-7) | Total: 138
Princeton vs. Creighton (-10) | Total: 140
Xavier vs. Texas (-4) | Total: 148.5
Sweet Sixteen: Expert Picks for March 23
Underdog: San Diego State (+7.5) vs. Alabama
This line seems a bit high, as the Aztecs figure to be the most-equipped to slow down the Crimson Tide.
San Diego State is fourth in the country at defending the 3-ball, limiting opponents to a 28.7% clip from long range. The Aztecs also rank in the 80th percentile at defending teams in transition, according to Synergy Sports Technology.
Alabama, meanwhile, takes the eighth-most 3-pointers in the nation and gets 36.8% of its offensive production from there. Per Synergy, the Crimson Tide are averaging 1.039 points per possession in transition.
In a battle of strength vs. strength, I’m taking the points with the underdog. I make this spread 5.5, while KenPom makes it 6 and Bart Torvik is sitting at 3. The market has made this line too high at 7.5, especially when San Diego State could pull off the upset.
Total: Princeton vs. Creighton Under 140
The Tigers have made it to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed due to their ability to dictate the tempo thus far. They have forced fast-paced teams like Missouri and Arizona to play in the half-court, limiting the easy points in transition. Princeton has only given up 14 points in transition over the last two games, according to Synergy.
Creighton doesn’t really want to run, as this team ranks in the 15th percentile in the country in transition offense. The Bluejays prefer to do their damage in the half-court, while limiting 3-point attempts for their opponents on the defensive end. Creighton actually allows the ninth-fewest 3-point attempts in the country.
The under has hit in each of Princeton’s two NCAA Tournament games to this point, while Creighton has been 18-16 to the under so far this season. This matchup should be a bit of a rock fight that finishes under this total of 140.