Expert March Madness Bracket Picks: Possible Sweet 16 Surprises
by Aaron Smith - 3/17/2015
The NCAA Tournament gets underway on Tuesday evening with the First Four, but the action gets going in earnest on Thursday afternoon. Productivity at the workplace will be way down on Thursday and Friday as many zone out on office tasks and in on the NCAA Tournament. When betting on the NCAA Tournament, you have to come up with a profitable system and stick to it. Remember, the lines are tighter this time of the year than at any other point during the college basketball season. Because of that, it is often a good idea to try to look to futures and props to find some solid values. These are areas that the average public bettor is less interested in, and that's what makes them easier targets.
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In this article, we'll take a look at several teams that could make the Sweet 16. We won't be looking to lay -600 on Wisconsin to reach the Sweet 16, or -1,500 for Kentucky to reach the Sweet 16. Instead, we'll be looking to find some undervalued teams at plus money that could reach the Sweet 16. If you make a few bets like the ones below, all it takes is a small percentage of those to come through to make a profit. This advice can also help you on your bracket. Odds listed below are from 5Dimes.
#12 Seed in Midwest Region- Buffalo Bulls (+450)
Buffalo starts out with a second-round matchup against the West Virginia Mountaineers. West Virginia has overachieved throughout the course of this season. Bob Huggins is a really good coach, but I'm not convinced that their talent level is that much higher than Buffalo's. Juwan Staten and Gary Browne haven't played in the past couple weeks, and even if they play they won't be 100 percent. Buffalo handles the ball well, and that's where West Virginia usually beats the opposition. If you take care of the basketball, you can beat the Mountaineers. The Bulls would then likely face a Maryland team that has won a ton of close games this year. Maryland is also led by a bunch of underclassmen. Remember how tough Buffalo played both Kentucky and Wisconsin on the road at the beginning of the season? That was indicative of the toughness of this team. Bobby Hurley has done a great job with this team. The price is right here, and Buffalo could pull off two straight upsets.
#12 Seed in South Region- Stephen F. Austin (+560)
Utah is a good team, but the Utes have skidded into the NCAA Tournament. They aren't one of those teams rounding into form at the right time. Stephen F. Austin played a strong nonconference schedule and even picked up a 12-point road win against Memphis. The Lumberjacks beat VCU last year in the NCAA Tournament, and this year's Stephen F. Austin team is even better. If they win that first game, they would likely take on Georgetown. The Hoyas are definitely overseeded at No. 4, and their inability to win in March in recent years is well-documented. Stephen F. Austin is the kind of well-coached veteran team that can make a run in March.
#7 Seed in East Region- Michigan State (+300)
Tom Izzo just knows how to win in March. The Spartans aren't tremendously talented, but they still nearly beat Wisconsin this past Sunday. They are playing their best basketball at the right time. Michigan State has what I consider an easy second-round game against Georgia. They would then take on a Virginia team that is struggling to score with Justin Anderson still hampered by an injury. Virginia slows down the tempo and wins with defense, but Michigan State is also capable of winning games that way. I like the toughness and grit that the Spartans have shown down the stretch. Michigan State at this price is almost an auto bet for me to reach the Sweet 16.
#5 Seed in East Region- Northern Iowa (+160)
Northern Iowa was screwed when it came to seeding, but the matchups actually aren't bad for the Panthers. Northern Iowa takes on a Wyoming team that plays similarly to them. The pace will be very slow, but Northern Iowa has the advantage almost everywhere on the court. Louisville would likely be their third-round opponent, and the Cardinals have some bad team chemistry right now. While Rick Pitino can't be counted out in the NCAA Tournament, I like Northern Iowa's chances in that potential matchup.
#7 Seed in Midwest Region- Wichita State (+148)
It's very evident that this committee didn't like the Missouri Valley Conference one bit. There was even more value here earlier, but this number has been bet down. Wichita State plays Indiana in the Round of 64, and Indiana hasn't shown me anything in the last few weeks that would make me want to back them. Then the Shockers would likely face the Kansas Jayhawks. Wichita State has been wanting to play Kansas for years, but the Jayhawks won't do it. If this matchup comes to fruition, I think Wichita State comes in with a massive chip on their shoulders. Gregg Marshall is a tremendous coach, and a strong backcourt often takes you a long way in the NCAA Tournament.
#8 Seed in East Region- NC State (+580)
Looking for a long shot bet? NC State is worth a little bit of money at +580. The Wolfpack have been inconsistent this year, but they have also proven capable of beating some of the very best. Villanova plays in a Big East Conference that's pretty weak, and NC State plays in a loaded ACC. Jay Wright's Wildcats are very solid, but I have to believe he was a little bit concerned when he saw NC State pop up as a potential Round of 32 opponent.
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