Three Pac-12 Teams Crash Elite Eight Party along with Three No. 1 Seeds
So many brackets were busted heading into the Sweet 16, and The Pac-12 continues it's remarkable March Madness run with three teams in the Elite Eight. Two more advanced through the Sweet 16 as outright winners of more than 6-points as No. 12 seed Oregon State (+7) shut down another bracket buster No. 8 Loyola Chicago, 65-58. The best results for a majority of leading online sportsbooks was No. 11 UCLA (+7) beating No. 2 Alabama in overtime, 88-78. The Bruins overcame a beyond the NBA 3-point buzzer beater by Alabama to send the game to OT as time expired.
No. 6 USC (-2) completed the Pac-12 trifecta with a dominating 82-68 win over fellow Pac-12 foe and No. 7 seed Oregon to send the Trojans to the Elite Eight. The reward? A chance to face undefeated and top seed Gonzaga.
All three No. 1 seeds flexed their muscles in the Sweet 16 as Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan won both SU and ATS by double digits, which was bad for the online sportsbooks. No. 2 Houston rolled over No. 11 Syracuse, 62-46 and No. 3 Arkansas escaped as a double-digit favorite against No. 15 Oral Roberts 72-70. The Golden Eagles close loss was another bad results for the sportsbooks, with the only Sweet 16 positive point spread for most sportsbooks being UCLA's win and cover as underdog.
Sweet 16 favorites went 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS. Since 2015, No. 1 seeds are 18-1 SU and 14-5 ATS in the Sweet 16.
Elite Eight Match-ups and Odds
Lines from BetOnline
No. 12 Oregon State vs No. 2 Houston (-8), total 129
No. 3 Arkansas vs No. 1 Baylor (-7.5), total 148.5
No. 6 USC vs No. 1 Gonzaga (-9), total 155
No. 11 UCLA vs No. 1 Michigan (-7.5), total 137
#MarchMadness Elite 8 Odds— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) March 29, 2021
Oregon State vs Houston (-8)
Arkansas vs Baylor (-7.5)
USC vs Gonzaga (-9)
UCLA vs Michigan (-7.5)
👉 https://t.co/iPzGpTwhjA pic.twitter.com/y7Q68d27iU
After watching these teams play and reviewing all their NCAA games, stats, defensive profiles, box scores, opponents, game flow, KenPom efficiency numbers and keys to NCAA Tournament success, I've determined all three underdogs are worth a bet against the No. 1 seeds. Understand, the lines are tight at the leading online sportsbooks, but another quick turnaround and pressure mounting to make the Final Four also makes UNDER the total a preferred play in the Michigan/UCLA and Houston/Oregon State games. An OVER the total bet is a preferred play in the Baylor/Arkansas game.
The most interesting game is Gonzaga vs USC. The Zags No. 1 scoring offense, No. 1 efficiency offense and No. 1 two-point percentage shooting offense goes up against USC's No. 4 efficiency defense and No. 1 two-point percentage defense.
I didn't bet much during the Sweet 16, but actually laid the points in the first half and game with Gonzaga over Creighton for a pair of wins. Just didn't like many underdogs, which I prefer, but missed a good one with UCLA's win over Alabama.
But the Elite Eight match-ups still favor the underdogs to keep the games closer against the No. 1 seeds. Yet greater than 60% of the early point spread money is on three of the favorites at many top online sportsbooks - Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan. If a team as complete and dominant like Gonzaga is going to be slowed more than expected, it's going to take a huge defensive effort from a team and coach that is capable of playing and preparing for the Bulldogs exceptionally efficient offense with pro prospects. USC is that team along with potential Final Four entrants Michigan or Houston.
When Villanova won the 2018 college basketball national championship, the Wildcats averaged 86 points per game that season and raced through the NCAA Tournament going 6-0 SU/ATS. Only one team was able to slow them down and hold them in check and that was defensive dominator Texas Tech in a 71-59 Wildcats win. Now Gonzaga is 3-0 SU/ATS in this year's NCAA Tournament and averaged 92 points per game this season including the NCAA Tournament. I'm not betting against Gonzaga with any sort of major confidence, but USC has the profile, players and coaching to give Gonzaga a much more competitive contest.
You can bet on it.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay