Elite 8 Odds, Expert Picks, & Predictions: UConn vs. Illinois & Alabama vs. Clemson

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Written By Eli Hershkovich | Last Updated
Elite 8 Picks

With Saturday’s Elite 8 odds set, let’s analyze the betting markets for UConn vs. Illinois and Alabama vs. Clemson. The victors will advance to face one another in the Final Four on April 6.

Click any of the March Madness odds below to place a wager. No matter the matchup, we’ve sorted to find the best available odds in your state.

east region: no. 1 UConn vs. No. 3 Illinois Odds

With oddsmakers expecting plenty of action on the Huskies, this line is shaded in their direction. Per the table, the defending champs are favorites. Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini are as high as to deliver the outright upset. The total is .

Can Illini Exploit (Clingan) Drop?

For bettors unwilling to hop off the betting bulldozer that is UConn, I can’t blame them. The Huskies have accumulated 13-straight NCAA tournament victories, winning them all by at least 13 points. With that in mind, this line may seem short. However, my raw numbers make this closer to UConn -6.5, and our partner Haslametrics forecasts an 80.6-74.8 victory for the Huskies.

Unless Illinois’ offense accumulates a bevy of transition opportunities, Terrence Shannon Jr. & Co. must take advantage of the middle of the floor. UConn operates almost exclusively in drop coverage, ranking in the 18th percentile of opponents’ mid-range attempt rate.

It’s also in the 17th percentile of field goal percentage allowed from that vicinity. Illini do-it-all center Coleman Hawkins is roughly average in mid-range efficiency. Still, Hawkins’ scoring is vital to pull his counterpart Donovan Clingan away from the rim, opening up driving lanes in the process.

San Diego State’s Jaedon Ledee failed to accomplish his task in their Sweet 16 clash, going 2-of-10 (20.0%) in the mid-range.

Illinois forward Marcus Domask is arguably the key to deconstructing the Huskies’ defense, stationed in the 74th percentile of mid-range efficiency across D-I. He’s due for a bounce-back performance after shooting just 2-of-11 (18.1%) in the Illini’s Sweet 16 victory over Iowa State.

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west region: No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 6 Clemson Odds

After these teams upended the West Region’s top-two seeds, the high-flying Crimson Tide are favorites against the Tigers. As of this publishing, this line rose to as high as Alabama -3.5 before shrinking slightly. Conversely, Clemson is to nab its fourth straight upset.

Hedge Elite 8 Picks?

I placed Final Four futures on Clemson earlier in the year and have the Tigers advancing to Phoenix in my bracket for larger pools. While I haven’t determined whether I will have action on the Tide, Brad Brownell’s group is well-positioned to continue outperforming the market’s expectations, which I noted on the Outside Shots podcast.

Many have pointed out that the Tigers’ first three opponents combined to shoot 18.7% from behind the arc. I’m not one to ignore positive variance, but we’ve seen many similar instances in this one-and-done tournament. For instance, the 2020-21 UCLA Bruins shot 39.1% from behind the arc before falling to Gonzaga in the Final Four. Their opponents manufactured a 26.3% clip.

High-variance outcomes are likelier for teams who employ a methodical tempo and space the floor well. Think about it. If possessions are at a premium, 3-pointers play an instrumental role in determining the winner. The Tigers fit the mold of this notion to a tee.

Pump The Brakes

Although Alabama’s perimeter-oriented offense may cause some regression for Clemson, the Tide could also see their shooting efficiency dip, tallying a 40.0% clip in the tournament. For the latter to occur, the Tigers must routinely force Mark Sears and his fellow marksmen into half-court sets. That starts with their offensive execution.

As Clemson proved during its non-conference victory in Tuscaloosa, they have a matchup edge in the low-post. Frontcourt mates PJ Hall and Ian Schieffelin are hyper-efficient at the rim, and Alabama ranks in the 43rd percentile of opponents’ post-up efficiency (via Synergy). It doesn’t help that Crimson Tide center Nick Pringle suffered a heel bruise against UNC on Thursday.

Alabama won’t have the luxury of sagging off on unreliable shooters, as it benefited from against the Tar Heels, because of the Tigers’ five-out attack. If Clemson cashes in, the Tide aren’t as likely to accrue a high volume of fast-break possessions. The Tigers’ transition defense and matchup zone have thwarted opponents as is.

Elite 8 Predictions

Regardless of whether you’re already invested in Clemson futures, my raw numbers favor the underdog, showcasing a spread of Alabama -1. Likewise, Haslametrics forecasts a final score of 80.9-79.5, a slim margin of victory for Alabama.

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