Sweet 16 Betting: March 26

Sweet 16 Betting: March 26

The first four college basketball teams to advance to the Elite 8 of the 2015 NCAA Tournament will be decided Thursday night. Will Kentucky continue their dominance against a confident West Virginia squad? Can top-seeded Wisconsin hold off the banged-up Tar Heels? Does Wichita State have the firepower to outduel Notre Dame? Is Xavier capable of keeping the margin close against Arizona? The answers will be revealed sometime early Friday morning. Here are previews and predictions for the first slate of matchups.

(7) Wichita St vs. (3) Notre Dame +2 – Whoa, no respect for the Golden Domers. The same team that beat Duke and North Carolina on their way to the ACC Tourney title is a dog. Okay, so they struggled to knock off Northeastern and Butler, but Notre Dame can shoot and score, and have a dynamic player with a killer instinct in senior Jerian Grant. However, the Shockers are no slouches, and unlike the Irish, they actually play defense. The backcourt of Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet is a dangerous duo that can win off the dribble and from beyond the arc. Notre Dame is 1-10 ATS in its last eleven Big Dance tilts. Wichita State is 7-2 ATS in its last nine tournament games. Tough call in this one.

Bet Notre Dame +2

(4) North Carolina vs. (1) Wisconsin -6 – Carolina forward Kennedy Meeks doesn’t appear as if he’ll be able to go on his sprained left knee. Of course Roy Williams won’t rule him out, but it’s highly unlikely he’s going to suit up. Meeks’ absence shouldn’t be overlooked, either. His ability to rebound and defend will be missed in the paint, especially when it comes to checking Frank Kaminsky, who is adept at popping out and knocking down three-pointers. The Badgers will also get a boost from the return of senior Traevon Jackson from a broken foot; Jackson brings leadership and free-throw prowess to an already balanced and experienced roster. UNC is 1-4 ATS in its last five Madness matchups. Wisconsin is 7-3-1 ATS in its last 11 tourney tussles. No Meeks equals no mas for the Heels.

Bet Wisconsin -6

(5) West Virginia vs. (1) Kentucky -13.5 – Poking a bear is never a good idea, but that didn’t stop West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles Jr. from doing it on Wednesday when he forecast a win over Kentucky, claiming they “don’t play hard.” The Mountaineers lead the country in steals due in large part to their stifling full-court defense. They also have good depth and can get hot from the perimeter. As for Kentucky, well, they pretty much do everything well and should be prepared to defeat the WVU press. West Virginia has covered its last five non-conference games. The Wildcats are 0-3-1 ATS in their last four Tourney showdowns. ‘Cats march on, Mountaineers cover.

Bet West Virginia +13.5

(6) Xavier vs. (2) Arizona -10.5 – The best team Xavier faced all season was Villanova. And they lost all three meetings by an average of 14 points. Arizona is efficient at both ends of the floor, and fierce on the glass. Four guys average in double-digits, led by freshman beast Stanley Johnson. The Musketeers need senior center Matt Stainbrook to control the paint and steer clear of foul trouble to keep this one within reach. And freshman Trevon Bluiett needs to regain his offensive touch or things could get ugly. Xavier is 18-17 ATS overall. Arizona is 22-12 ATS overall. Zona’s defense will be too much in this one.

Bet Arizona -10.5