College basketball odds and betting picks for the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 (Thursday slate)


The best part of the college basketball season is finally here, and the Sweet 16 is upon us. March Madness is packed with great matchups that are always full of drama and potential Cinderella stories. Below is my analysis and favorite bet for the Thursday Sweet 16 games.


Gonzaga vs. Arkansas

(Line: Gonzaga -8.5, DraftKings Sportsbook)

The Zags haven’t had the easiest time so far in the tournament, having to overcome two second-half deficits to earn their spot in the Sweet 16 for the seventh year in a row. Arkansas has limped into the Sweet 16 themselves after pulling out two tightly contested matchups against double-digit seeds Vermont and New Mexico State. This seems like the spot where the best team in the country (Gonzaga) ramps it up and wins comfortably against a Razorback team that is currently seeing some regression and may not recover.

The issue with Arkansas in this matchup is their offense is strictly predicated around attacking the rim, as they rank 259th in 3pt FGA offense and 314th in 3pt FG%. The trio of JD Notae, AuDiese Toney and Stanley Umude will have an incredibly tough time scoring against the number one ranked 2pt FG% defense in the country behind 7-foot swat machine Chet Holmgren. Eric Musselman gives his guards a ton of freedom offensively and the Razorbacks will be forced to make a ton of jump shots in this one. We’ve seen many instances this year where Arkansas can fall in love with poor shot selection and lack shot-making ability (the shot quality metrics back that up), especially Notae lately, which can lead to long rebounds and transition run outs for this Zags team who are absolutely lethal in transition.


Defense is where Arkansas has been playing their best basketball as they have been outstanding at running shooters off the three-point line and forcing dribble drives into help and difficult shots, but the Zags have enough playmakers on the wing and too much size in the front court for Jaylin Williams to handle down low. Arkansas can easily be sped up and getting into a track meet with Gonzaga is a recipe for disaster. The Hogs will be forced into too many contested shots to keep up with the Zags potent transition attack behind Andrew Nembhard and the Zags should have no issues getting the ball inside to Timme and Holmgren down low. Unless Notae and Umude have outlier shooting performances, the Zags should be able to pull away in this one with no issues.

The Pick: Gonzaga -8.5

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