NCAA Tournament Survivor Guide For the Elite Eight (Sunday)

Mar 25, 2023 - 3:44 PM

If you competed in an NCAA Tournament survivor pool this year, you picked an incredible year to do so. This year’s NCAA Tournament had multiple massive upsets in each round. Thus, avoiding such upsets and keeping enough teams available to choose from made this one of the most challenging years for survivor pool contestants in recent memory. In addition, this is the first year ever where all No. 1 seeds have been eliminated before the Elite Eight and the first in history with one or fewer No. 1 and No. 2 seeds combined.

With just one set of games remaining until the Final Four, the end of your NCAA survivor pools is near. By now, you are down to just a handful of teams left to choose from, so hopefully, you have navigated a path that allows you to make it to the national championship game. However, if you have not and face a dead end with no teams left to choose from after this round, your strategy should shift to simply outlasting all your competitors.

Those varying strategies are on full display with Sunday’s window of games. If you have Texas and Creighton available, save whatever team you think is more likely to reach the national championship game and use the other. We discuss our thoughts on that specific plan in this column.

As we have done since the Round of 32, we rank all games in order of most confidence to least confidence and provide a short narrative for each.

Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their Elite 8 matchups on Sunday (odds courtesy of BettingPros consensus).

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2023 NCAA Tournament Guide (March Madness)

Best Picks in Order of Most-to-Least Confidence

Creighton (-122)

If you are still alive in survivor pools, deciding whether to use Creighton (or San Diego State) instead of Texas is one of the most difficult choices you have had to make to this point. Texas will likely be favored over the UConn/Gonzaga winner in the Final Four, especially with the game being played in Houston, so we prefer to save the Longhorns as they are most likely to reach the national championship.

Creighton is one of two teams (UConn is the other) to win its three NCAA Tournament games by 9+ points. Teams have had difficulty deciding who to key in on defensively, as all five starters average in double figures. Furthering that point, the Bluejays were one Baylor Scheierman point away against Princeton from having a third different leading scorer through the three games.

However, we would not argue against anyone picking San Diego State as underdogs in this game, as the Aztecs are more experienced than Creighton (21st compared to 158th in D-I experience) and have a much deeper bench (31st in bench minutes compared to the BlueJays, who rank 351st). San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher will likely use that to his advantage with just one day off between games, and the Aztecs have covered both of their games following a one-day layoff.

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Texas (-190)

We are not less confident in the Longhorns winning outright compared to the other game. However, given that they have the second-best odds to cut down the net entering the Elite Eight (+360 per DraftKings), we will save them for later rounds.

If you have no choice but to use Texas, they are worthy favorites considering they have shown they can win in a variety of ways through the first three games. First, the Longhorns showed their experience and discipline in holding a high-powered Colgate squad to 61 points (its second-lowest scoring total of the season). Then, center Dylan Disu carried Texas with a career-high 28 points against Penn State in the Round of 32. And with him in a walking boot in the Sweet 16, the Longhorns’ three-headed guard combination of Marcus Carr, Tyrese Hunter, and Sir’Jabari Rice combined for 53 of the team’s 83 points while going 7-of-9 from 3-point range.

If your pool still has many contestants left, pick who you think the winner of the Creighton-San Diego State game is and save Texas for a deeper run. However, if just a few contestants are left, and the opposition has already used Texas, picking the Longhorns here is a good idea since they are more likely to advance.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

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