NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Best Bets: West Region (Thursday)

Mar 21, 2023 - 4:00 PM

It was absolute madness through the first two rounds of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, as more upsets than ever were seen seemingly across all regions. With a few days of respite, let’s take a closer look at the two games in the West Region that are on deck for Thursday’s Slate.

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Sweet 16 Picks & Predictions (2023 NCAA Tournament)

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(4) UConn (-3.5) vs. (8) Arkansas | Total 139.5

Arkansas’ victory over Kansas was remarkable but wasn’t as smooth sailing as the final score indicates. After the first half, the Razorbacks were down by eight points, and they also played somewhat poorly in the second half as the Jayhawks fell apart even more so. Things would have looked quite different if the Jayhawks had not committed 23 fouls and prevented the Razorbacks from making 21 free throws.

A UConn team that penalizes opponents for poor shooting is now in front of the Razorbacks, as the Huskies allow just 64.7 points per game, and they grab 24.3 defensive rebounds per game in the process.  In addition, they have only committed 15 fouls on average over their last three games, so the Razorbacks will likely spend less time at the charity stripe than they did in their previous game.

Moreover, UConn has a strong offensive game, scoring 78.5 points per game, and their ball movement causes fits for every team they play. Furthermore, the Huskies are 4-1 ATS against their last five SEC opponents, in addition to covering the spread in seven of their last eight games. I like for UConn to take this one rather easily, as they roll the Razorbacks from the jump.

The pick: UConn -3.5 (-110)

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(2) UCLA (-2) vs. (3) Gonzaga | Total 145

This could end up being the best game of the tournament, with my only question for UCLA being, can they sustain with all the injuries they’ve had to this point?  The squad currently has a damaged roster, although David Singleton is anticipated to play despite an ankle injury. The team is starting to find more significant minutes from players, so they can at least go seven deep.

No matter what they do, UCLA must avoid getting into a shootout with Gonzaga, a type of game they will almost certainly lose.

The Bruin offense has no trouble keeping up, but the club is 0-3 when it surrenders more than 73 points. With the top-scoring assault in the country, Gonzaga has only missed 73 points four times this season.

While I took UCLA most of the regular season, I think a healthier, better-coached Gonzaga team gets it done here.

The pick: Gonzaga +2 (-110)

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