Sweet 16 Thursday Games

The hard-hitting action of the NCAA Tournament returns to the hardcourt today as the Sweet 16 round gets underway with four extraordinary games. Four teams will advance to the Elite Eight and four teams will see their season come to and end. And as always, these games present some excellent betting opportunities, so check our breakdown of each contest and find out who to take on those point spreads.

Marquette Golden Eagles +5 vs. Miami Hurricanes -5

After two rounds in the tournament, the Hurricanes are looking more and more like a legitimate title contender, whereas the Golden Eagles can consider themselves lucky to still be playing at all. Bases on what we’ve seen so far, it would be easy to take the Hurricanes to cover -5, but Marquette has shown a great deal of resilience and ability to keep games close down the stretch, which forces us to take a closer look at the match-up.

The biggest glaring knock against Miami in this one is that the Canes will be without their leading rebounder Reggie Johnson, who will be out with an injury. This will give Marquette far more opportunities in the paint on offense and will likely give it plenty of offensive rebounds and second-chance buckets.

Marquette may not have enough talent on its side to earn the win and the upset, but look for this to be one of the more highly contested games of the day and take Marquette to cover +5.

Arizona Wildcats +4 vs. Ohio State Buckeyes -4

After seeing Gonzaga go down last round, the Buckeyes are now the heavy favorite to take down the West region, but they’ll have another tough test to pass today against the Arizona Wildcats.

The Cats have looked strong in their first two games, but they haven’t faced a team yet with the capabilities of Ohio State. Arizona’s wins over Belmont and Harvard may have made the school look a little better than it really is.

However, Ohio State proved to be plenty vulnerable in its near-loss to Iowa State last week, relying on an Aaron Craft buzzer-beater to advance.

Whatever happens and whoever prevails, one thing is certain. This game will also be a nail-biter, so take Arizona to cover +4 here.

Syracuse Orange +5.5 vs. Indiana Hoosiers -5.5

The Hoosiers are another team that narrowly escaped an early round exit last week, but they still bring one of the country’s most experienced and balanced teams into today’s match-up against the Orange of Syracuse.

Even though Indiana has all the weapons and the pieces to win a title this season, Syracuse is playing its best basketball of the season right now and if the Orange continue to bring their A game into today’s battle, they’ll have a great chance to knock off the Hoosiers and claim the East region.

I expect another close here. Take Syracuse to cover +5.5 and don’t be surprised if the Orange win outright.

La Salle Explorers +4.5 vs. Wichita State Shockers -4.5

Both the Explorers and Shockers have impressed tournament watchers and hoops fans thus far with their upset victories, but Wichita State seems to have the more athletic squad and the tournament experience needed for a deeper tournament run.

La Salle has thrived on the three-point line so far during the tourney, but once it starts missing, it will die on the three-point line as well and with the Shockers’ quick and pesky defense, that could easily happen today. Look for Wichita State to take control in the second half and cover -4.5 in the win.

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