The weekend is over with 68 teams starting, and now only 16 standing. Top-seeded teams like Houston and Alabama still stand, while Cinderellas Princeton and FAU look to march toward the Final Four. It is time to continue our March Madness odds series with Sweet 16 predictions and picks. 

Here are the current March Madness odds, courtesy of FanDuel

7 Michigan State (-1.5) vs. 3 Kansas State

Michigan State was a popular pick for a first-round upset, but Tom Izzo and the Spartans continue to march on. The Spartans took down USC and then had a nine-point win against Marquette. During the first half of the Marquette game, the Spartans were in control and they staved off multiple second-half runs by the Golden Eagles to get the win. Michigan State overcame poor three-point shooting and won the rebound battle, something that, on average, the Spartans did not do this year.

Kansas State comes in off a victory over Kentucky, 75-69. Turnovers were a key to this game, as Kansas State forced 16 of them, 1.15 more than their 37th-ranked season average. To make an Elite Eight run, the Wildcats will need to continue that turnover trend. Michigan State ranked 37th in turnovers per game and 33rd in turnover-to-assist ratio. The Spartans are careful with the ball and have won the turnover battle in both of their wins thus far. According to KenPom, both teams have top-50 adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency units, with Michigan State better on offense, and Kansas State better on D. If Kansas State cannot repeat the turnover dominance, and does not improve on the rebounding side, this will be another Elite Eight run for Tom Izzo. 

Prediction: Michigan State 70 – Kansas State 67

8 Arkansas vs 4 UCONN (-3.5)

UCONN is showing whether have all the ingredients to make a deep run in this tournament. They were one of eight teams going into the tournament with a top 25 adjusted offensive rating and top 50 adjusted defensive ratings per KenPom. The three worst defensive units of the eight have all found upsets, with Purdue, Marquette, and Arizona all going down. UCONN has been flexing on defense, holding Iona and Saint Mary’s below 65 points, which was their 40th-ranked season average.

Arkansas came back and knocked off one-seeded Kansas, winning the rebound and turn-over battle.  This should be picked to be a low-scoring affair with both teams having a quality defense. UCONN has shot better this tournament, especially from three-point range, and that will be the difference in this one in the Sweet 16 predictions.

Prediction: UCONN 71 – Arkansas 66

9 Florida Atlantic vs 4 Tennessee (-5.5)

One of the lowest seeded-team remaining in the tournament is the Owls of FAU. They started the tournament with a one-point victory over Memphis, limiting turnovers, and keeping their high effective field goal percentage in the process. That trend continued against Fairleigh Dickinson, as the Owls ended their improbable run. A top 35 offensive and defensive efficiency unit on the season per KenPom, FAU has continued to play well-rounded and solid basketball in the tournament. Johnell Davis has not been great from three yet, but he did just put up 29 points, showing his versatility.

On the Tennessee side, the defense has shined. They are currently rated second in defensive efficiency per KenPom and were third in the NCAA only allowing 57.8 points per game. The Volunteers held Duke to 52 points, their lowest offensive output of the season. In the process, Oliver Nkamhoua dominated, with 27 points, a season-high. FAU relies on low turnovers, quality shooting, and rebounding, all things that Tennessee controlled in their win over Duke. Unless a miracle happens, the clock will strike midnight in this one. 

Prediction: Tennessee 66 – FAU 60

3 Gonzaga vs 2 UCLA (-1.5)

The NCAA saves the most intriguing matchup of the Thursday slate for last, as three-seeded Gonzaga faces off against two-seeded UCLA. Gonzaga has been amazing all year on offense, scoring 87.5 points per game, and leading the nation by two points per game. This team was only held below 75 points seven times this year, and their trend of high-scoring games has continued in the tournament. A 51 points second half kept Gonzaga rolling in the tournament, and earned them a date with the Bruins. 

UCLA is currently the number one adjusted defensive efficiency team in the nation. UCLA was seventh in defensive scoring per game at 60.3 points allowed per game, and the shutdown defense has continued in the first two games of the tournament. This is the match-up of the top D against the Top O, but the difference is UCLA is not just defense, they can score. Jaime Jaquez has shot over 57% for the tournament and averaged over 20 points per game. Gonzaga may not be able to slow him down, and that will be the difference in the Sweet 16 predictions.

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Prediction: UCLA 73 – Gonazaga 69

5 San Diego State vs 1 Alabama (-6.5)

San Diego State has not faced a top-caliber team yet. Nevertheless, the Aztecs have still been able to show off their defense. Going into the Furman match-up, Furman was an up-tempo, quick-strike team that could drill three-pointers when needed. San Diego State is the ninth-best team in the NCAA against the three and is 28th in defensive points per game at 63.8 points. That defense showed up and won out big. Junior Micah Parrish scored the second-most points of his season, and the Aztecs rolled. Now they get a quality defense in Alabama. Guard Matt Bradley has been good so far, but not great this tournament. He needs to stand out for the Aztecs to pull off the upset. 

Alabama has dominated so far. The Crimson Tide is third in adjusted defensive rating per KenPom, six slots better than San Diego State. However, there is a large difference on the offensive side of the ball. Alabama was seventh in offensive scoring on the season at 82.2 points per game. Leading scorer Brandon Miller did not score against Texas A&M-CC but did get 19 against Maryland. Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 against Maryland, and 22 in the SEC title game against Texas A&M. He has been hot and it continues against the Aztecs. 

Prediction: Alabama 70 – San Diego State 65

5 Miami vs 1 Houston (-6.5)

The other one-seed remaining gives Friday its second straight one-against-five matchup. Miami has been an offensive focus team this season, ranking 25th in the nation in scoring. They held Drake to 56 points though, one of their best defensive outings of the year. The defensive unit took a step back against Indiana, giving up 69 points, but still outscoring them to get the win. Miami has yet to face the caliber of team that Houston is. The closest they faced this year was Duke, whom they did get one win in three tries against this year.

Houston has shown off their defense so far, allowing 52 points in the first round, and then 64 against Auburn. Their offense did not show up against Northern Kentucky but found their grove against Auburn. Houston was able to smother Auburn to finish off the game, and even with their two best scoring options in foul trouble, finished strong to get the win. Sasser looked good at times on the court but missed a chunk of the Auburn game due to fouls. Miami will need to have an offensive performance of the ages, but if Houston fails to stay out of foul trouble, it could happen. 

Prediction: Houston 70 – Miami 68

15 Princeton vs 6 Creighton (-9.5)

If your bracket has Princeton against Creighton in this game, good on you! Maybe you just picked random teams, or maybe you saw a Princeton defense that underperformed early in the year and picked it up. The 131st in points per game allowed Princeton defense shut down a quality Arizona offense, and then did the same against Missouri. Both teams are rated in the top ten in adjusted offensive efficiency. Creighton is 24th per KenPom but does boast a much better defense than the prior two opponents. 

Creighton comes in almost under the radar considering whom they are facing. Ryan Nembhard put up a career-high 30 points against Baylor to out-duel the Bears in the second round. Baylor’s defense was their shortcoming in the matchup against Creighton, but Princeton has a better defensive unit than the Bears do. Creighton has shown the ability to play both a shootout and a defensive game thus far this tournament and may have to adjust again to end Princeton. Princeton has shown they can play with anyone though, so this should be a fun game to watch. The Tigers take this one in the Sweet 16 predictions.

Prediction: Princeton 67 – Crieghton 65

3 Xavier vs 2 Texas (-4.5)

The final game of the Sweet Sixteen features a two versus three matchup and Xavier faces Texas. Xavier comes in 12th in the NCAA in scoring and has continued to show that firepower, putting up 84 against Pitt. After having a slight down game against Kennesaw State, Xavier forward Jack Nunge put up 18 against the Panthers, as the offense rolled. For Xavier, the defense has not been the strong suit. Slowing down Texas will be a tall hill to climb, as they are 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 41st overall in scoring.

Texas took care of business with ease against Colgate and then took out the ten-seeded Penn State. Texas showed off their defense against the Nittany Lions, forcing nine turnovers, and winning the rebound battle. The Longhorns held Penn State to under 42% shooting. The only misstep for the Longhorns was their three-point shooting, which was a horrendous 7.7%. If they can just improve slightly, they will walk out with a ticket to the Elite Eight.

Prediction: Texas 74 – Xavier 68