Sweet 16 Odds Preview: Alabama Slight Favorite

Houston Cougars, UCLA Round Out Top Three

The Sweet 16 odds preview shows the Alabama Crimson Tide as slight favorites to walk away with the championship trophy. But Alabama is far from a sure thing and there are five teams at odds of +850 or lower entering the Sweet 16. The Sweet 16 odds preview shows a definite disparity in the odds. Half the teams remaining in the field are +1100 or lower. The other half of the teams are at +2500 or higher.

For the two remaining No. 1 seeds, the Crimson Tide likely have an easier path to the championship game than Houston. The winner of the South Region, where Alabama is, plays the winner of the East. The top two seeds, Purdue and Marquette, have been knocked out of the East

The Favorites

ALA Alabama Crimson Tide (+375)

The Crimson Tide may not be a better team than Houston, but are favored due to having a more favorable draw. According to Ken Pomeroy‘s rankings, four of the top five teams in the country are in the Midwest or West. Alabama is the only top five team in the South or East. The Tide will be favored in each game up to the title game as long as they continue to win. Pomeroy has Alabama 3.5 points better than Tennessee, the second-highest team ranked on the Tide’s side of the NCAAB bracket. Despite being the favorite, there is a bit of value on Alabama.

HOU Houston Cougars (+400)

Pomeroy has the Cougars as his top-rated team, but the likes of UCLA, Connecticut and Texas are standing in their way. The Cougars have a top 10 offense and defense, although the numbers are a little skewed due to Houston’s slow pace. Houston made easy work of a good Auburn team last game. The Cougars will be a popular team when people are making their college basketball picks against Miami. The odds aren’t bad for Houston but there is better value elsewhere.

The Contenders

UCLA UCLA Bruins (+750)

The Bruins are definitely intriguing at +750 in the Sweet 16 odds preview. UCLA has the second-best defense of the remaining teams and is ranked No. 21 on offense. The Bruins do have a tough matchup with Gonzaga up next. The March Madness lines have UCLA as just 2-point favorites. The winner of that one will face the winner of UConn and Arkansas. Either Houston or Texas will be knocked out before the Final Four, so that’s one potential bullet the Bruins can dodge.

TEX Texas Longhorns (+850)

Pomeroy has Texas as his fifth-best team in the country. The problem is Houston, UCLA and UConn are all rated at least two points higher. The Longhorns will likely have to beat at least two of them to advance to the Final Four. The Longhorns are No. 15 in offensive efficiency and No. 10 on defense. Plus playing in the Big 12 Conference should have teams ready for the Tournament. Texas is at decent odds, but have a rough road to advance to the Final Four in Houston.

CONN Connecticut Huskies (+850)

Both the Sagarin college basketball rankings and Pomeroy have the Huskies listed as their fourth-best team. So, a bit of value on a solid team in this spot. Connecticut has the No. 3 offensive efficiency rating and the Huskies are No. 14 in defense. The Huskies had a rough patch in early January where they lost six of eight games. But other than that, UConn has been pretty solid. A loss to Marquette in their second Big East Tournament game dropped UConn to a No. 4 seed. The Huskies are better than that, but they do have the tougher draw to the championship game than teams from the East/South.

The Outsiders

CREI Creighton Bluejays (+1000)

The Bluejays have what is viewed as the easiest Sweet 16 game of the group, going up against Princeton. The Tigers have shown they’re no pushovers, but they are a No. 15 seed for a reason. Creighton will most likely face Alabama in its next game, which will be a tall order. Creighton is No. 11 in Pomeroy’s ratings with seven teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament that are ranked higher. But you have to advance to the Final Four before you can win the title. From the aspect, the Bluejays have to be given a bit of consideration considering their draw.

GONZ Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1100)

The Sweet 16 odds preview shows Gonzaga at +1100. This season hasn’t been up to Gonzaga’s standards but all could be made well with another win or two. It won’t be easy, with UCLA up next. The Zags’ schedule makes it tough to get a good reading on the team, but they did play a brutal non-conference schedule. Gonzaga has the No. 1 rated offense in college basketball but also has the third-lowest defensive rating of the teams remaining in the Tournament.

TENN Tennessee Volunteers (+1100)

The Volunteers have the best defense in the country. But it’s not a whole lot better than the likes of UCLA and Alabama. The Vols have a good, but not necessarily great offense, which ranks No. 60. The Volunteers have shown they can beat Alabama, but that game was at home and it’s likely a different result on a neutral court. Tennessee’s defense is going to keep it in games, but the offense will have to pick it up against some of the better defenses in the country.

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