HomeCollege BasketballTuley’s Takes: March Madness best bets — Sweet 16

    Tuley’s Takes: March Madness best bets — Sweet 16

    VSiN Analyst Dave Tuley offers his best bets for the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 games.


    Sweet 16 March Madness Best Bets

    March Madness giveth and March Madness taketh away.

    It was a roller-coaster ride last weekend here in the Tuley’s Takes home office (and in the sportsbooks I toured around Las Vegas) during the first two rounds of the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.


    I went 4-1 ATS in the first round on Thursday/Friday and was riding high. I even improved to 5-1 ATS with Oakland +6.5 in its 79-73 overtime loss to North Carolina State in the Round of 32 on Saturday. It was stressful (as it is anytime an underdog is forced to a win bet for you twice after covering during regulation but then needing to hold on in the extra five minutes), and even though I deserved the win, I felt fortunate to get the cash. Oakland fell behind by more than the spread in the second OT (damn The Fates for making me sweat so much) but then got us the backdoor cover and didn’t foul to allow the dribble out.

    But then The Fates (or the Gambling Gods, take your pick) got their revenge.

    I had Oregon +5 vs. Creighton late Saturday. I probably don’t have to tell you what happened there, though it was even a more brutal #BadBeat than Oakland would have been as it went to double overtime before losing our bet. Then Sunday was even worse as I lost with Utah State +11.5 vs. Purdue, James Madison +7.5 vs. Duke (knew I should have passed on the public dog) and Grand Canyon +6 vs. Alabama to fall back to .500 overall at 5-5 ATS.

    At least my brackets (chalkier than usual, especially for me, as my Elite Eight is intact) are in great shape.

    None of this should come as a surprise to regular readers as favorites went 15-1 SU and 11.5 ATS in the second round on Saturday and Sunday, so a lot of underdog bettors aren’t doing so well in this tournament. All things considered (even despite squandering a 5-1 ATS start), I feel pretty good since faves have dominated at 36-12 SU and 29-18-1 ATS (61.7%). It’s been too chalky for our taste, but at least by being selective we’ve pretty much broken even and are doing a lot better than most dog bettors.

    Here’s hoping we can use what we learned from last weekend as we head into the Sweet 16 games Thursday and Friday. We’ll be back at VSiN.com early Saturday with our plays on the Elite Eight (aka the regional finals). 

    Thursday Sweet 16 Games

    Illinois +1.5 vs. Iowa State

    I actually gave this out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” with my VSiN colleague Greg “Hoops” Peterson on Sunday night at Illinois +2.5 (catch me most Sunday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT). Readers here lose a smidge of value as the line has been bet down to 1.5 at pretty much all sportsbooks as of Tuesday afternoon, but I obviously took the Illini as I expect an outright win. As Peterson and I discussed, often the best underdog bets this time of year are when a line appears to be “short” as opposed to only looking at dogs getting a basket full of points. These are the really live ones, and we love that Illinois is the No. 1 team in offensive efficiency at 126.8 (points scored per 100 possessions) at kenpom.com. Granted, Iowa State is No. 1 in defensive efficiency at 87.5, but “defense wins championships” doesn’t apply as much as it used to. Instead of laying -110 at +1.5, the better way to play it is to just take Illinois +105 on the moneyline (and just pray the Gambling Gods don’t have a brutal sense of humor and make it fall on a 1-point win by Iowa State).

    March Madness Best Bet: Illinois +1.5

    Clemson +7.5 vs. Arizona

    I also (kinda) gave this out on Sunday night as the opening line had just come up after Clemson’s 72-64 upset of Baylor right before we went on the air. I made the line Arizona -4 at the most and was pleasantly surprised when we were checking the odds screen live that it was Arizona -7. I’m really high on the Wildcats and have them winning a few of my brackets, but I’m not afraid to fade them with a Clemson team that has stepped it up defensively in the tournament, especially around the perimeter. I admit I thought Clemson was over-seeded at a No. 6 but was impressed how the Tigers upset No. 11 New Mexico after closing as a disrespected 2-point underdog despite the higher seed. I see them in this game the whole way and will also have a moneyline play at +255 or higher as a mini-hedge in case they bust my brackets.

    March Madness Best Bet: Clemson +7.5

    Friday Sweet 16 Game

    NC State +6.5 vs. Marquette (plus Under 151)

    I lean to the dogs (no surprise, huh?) in all of the Sweet 16 games, so hopefully we see a reversal of fortune from the first two rounds. But I’m still trying to be selective, and that’s why this is my third and last ATS pick of the round as it’s the biggest discrepancy with my line versus the current lines as of this writing, as I made it Marquette -3. This line seems to be set based on the teams’ full body of work, but I am giving more weight to NC State’s run to the ACC conference tournament title (five wins in five days!) and its first-round upset of Texas Tech as a 5-point dog and beating scrappy Oakland. Meanwhile, Marquette hasn’t overly impressed me with its harder-than-the-final-score-indicates win over Western Kentucky, finally covering as 15-point chalk in an 87-69 victory and then the non-covering 81-77 win against Colorado as a 4.5-point fave. While this is my only ATS play on Friday and just the third of the round, I’m also on the Under 151 as I set the total at 147 as neither team plays at a fast pace. Marquette is No. 93 in adjusted tempo at kenpom, while NC State is No. 148.

    March Madness Best Bets: NC State +6.5, plus Under 151

    Dave Tuley
    Dave Tuley
    Dave Tuley was VSiN.com senior reporter from 2017-2023 and is currently a contributing columnist and occasional on-air guest on the network. Tuley is also widely known as one of the foremost writers in the horse racing and sports betting industries from his previous jobs at Daily Racing Form (Las Vegas correspondent from 2000-2014) and ESPN Chalk (recurring writer from 2011 through 2017).

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