Will the 2023 NCAA Tournament unders continue in Sweet 16 and Elite Eight?

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Sweet 16 begins on Thursday night

Unless you’ve been living under the world’s largest rock, you are fully aware of how well Unders have done in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Through 52 games, the Under is 35-17 (67.3%), which is definitely a record-setting pace. This year’s March Madness might as well be sponsored by Habitat for Humanity with all the bricklaying going on.

Why have the games been so low-scoring? Look no further than 3-point percentage. Through the Round of 32, teams are collectively shooting just 31.2% from beyond the arc.

 

Mark Few told Stadium’s Jeff Goodman that the new basketballs used during the NCAA Tournament are to blame.

With that in mind, will anything change this weekend as the field goes from 16 down to eight and then down to four?

See the latest Sweet 16 college basketball betting splits.

Sweet 16 Matchups

Evan Miyakawa is a must-follow for college basketball. After Goodman’s tweet started to make the rounds, Miyakawa quote-tweeted it with this fancy tidbit of intel.

Should we be paying more attention to Xavier, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Miami and FAU given that they’ve made it to this point in spite of a significant drop-off in their most important offensive metric? Now that the quality of opponents increases (at least in theory), are some teams more susceptible as the tournament rolls on?

Here are the Sweet 16 matchups (grouped by winners that would play each other) with 3-point rate and 3-point percentage vs. Division I opponents (3P%/3P Rate – percentage of FG attempts that are 3-point attempts):

East Region

Michigan State (-1.5, 137.5): 39.1% / 32.5%
Kansas State: 33.6% / 36.1% (Matchup)

FAU: 36.7% / 43.8% (Matchup)
Tennessee (-5.5, 129.5): 33% / 40.2%

 

West Region

Arkansas: 31.3% / 27.8% (Matchup)
UConn (-4, 140): 36.2% / 41.9%

Gonzaga: 38.3% / 32.8% (Matchup)
UCLA (-1.5, 145.5): 34.8% / 29.1%

 

South Region

San Diego State: 34% / 34.7% (Matchup)
Alabama (-7.5, 137): 34.1% / 47.5%

Princeton: 33.4% / 41.1% (Matchup)
Creighton (-10, 139): 35.8% / 41.9%

 

Midwest Region

Miami: 36.8% / 34.5% (Matchup)
Houston (-7, 138): 34.2% / 37.6%

Xavier: 38.9% / 31.3% (Matchup)
Texas (-4.5, 149): 34.1% / 34.7%

You look at a matchup like Arkansas vs. UConn where the Huskies shoot a 3-pointer over 14% more often than Arkansas. Is that something that could hold the Huskies back?

Similarly, Alabama takes a lot more 3s than San Diego State. Maybe the Crimson Tide’s defensive efficiency metrics are enough to help them move on, but is that a game where you possibly look to bet another under?

Princeton and Creighton both rank in the top 80 in 3P Rate against D-I opponents. Is that another under candidate? Same for FAU and Tennessee with both teams over 40% in 3P Rate?

It is certainly something to consider in a year where the shooting has been far worse than normal and the bright, new ball won’t be going away because it looks good on TV. Maybe the sample size is too small and maybe it’s just one coach voicing his opinion, but this just might be a key factor in your handicap for this weekend’s action.