Welcome to the bracket-busting 2018 NCAA Tournament. As we enter the Sweet 16 on Thursday, two No. 1 seeds, Virginia in the South and Xavier in the West, already have been eliminated – UVA’s upset was historic. It’s the first time in 14 years that only two top seeds reached the Sweet 16. Virginia’s South Region doesn’t even have a top-four seed left.
With such an unpredictable tournament thus far, oddsmakers themselves likely aren’t sure what to expect in the third round. That helps explain whey there is just one-double digit favorite among the eight games: No. 2 Duke is -11.5 over No. 11 Syracuse on the March Madness odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in Friday’s Midwest Region action from Omaha.
That’s the only regular-season rematch in the Sweet 16 as both Duke and Syracuse are from the ACC. On February 24 in Durham the Blue Devils beat the Orange 60-44. With both teams using a zone defense, it wasn’t pretty offensively as the two combined to miss their first 23 three-pointers.
Opposite Duke-Syracuse in the Midwest is No. 1 Kansas and No. 5 Clemson, with the Jayhawks favored at 4.5 to ensure there’s not an all-ACC Elite Eight matchup.
The biggest Cinderella still standing is No. 11 Loyola-Chicago, in its first NCAA Tournament since 1985. The Ramblers, of the Missouri Valley Conference, beat No. 6 Miami on a last-second three-pointer, 64-62, in South Region first-round action and then beat No. 3 Tennessee on another last-point shot 63-62 in Round 2. Loyola faces No. 7 Nevada on Thursday night; the Wolf Pack are 1.5-point favorites.
The Loyola-Nevada winner will face some Wildcats in the regional final: Either No. 5 Kentucky or No. 9 Kansas State. UK is the 5.5 point favorite.
The only Sweet 16 matchup that held true to form in terms of seeding is No. 2 Purdue against No. 3 Texas Tech in the East Region on Friday night in Boston to close out the round.
The Boilermakers are -1.5 despite the loss of starting seven-foot center Isaac Haas after the first round to a fractured elbow. Haas is hoping to find some sort of brace to allow him to play Friday, but that’s not likely. The Purdue-TTU winner would face the winner of No. 1 Villanova and No. 5 West Virginia, with the Wildcats as 5.5-point favorites.
Finally, in West Region action Thursday, oddsmakers favor No. 3 Michigan (-2.5) to beat No. 7 Texas A&M, and No. 4 Gonzaga (-5.5) to knock off No. 9 Florida State and meet Saturday.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.
Source: Heavy Sports