NCAA Tournament Market Report: How The Sweet 16 Is Being Bet

Written By FairwayJay on March 26, 2021 - Last Updated on April 20, 2021

The Madness was in full force in rounds 1 and 2 of the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament as four double-digit seeds, plus a 6, 7 and 8 seed won a pair of games and advanced to this weekend’s Sweet 16.

The No. 8 seed is long shot Loyola Chicago, which took out No. 1 Illinois in the Round of 32. The Ramblers go from a 7-point underdog in that game against the Illini to a favorite against upstart No. 12 Oregon State to tip off Saturday’s action in the Midwest Region.

The most wagered-on Sweet 16 team on the point spread is Alabama, which has seen plenty of sharp action this week. Alabama is -6.5 against UCLA in the East Region at FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet and William Hill. At DraftKings Sportsbook, Alabama has bounced between a -6.5 favorite to a 7-point favorite all week.

“UCLA is definitely peaking at the right time,” William Hill Director of Trading Nick Bogdanovich told TheLines. “But the sharps are all over Alabama, and the public will be more on Alabama than UCLA. It’s good that UCLA is playing well, because it’ll shorten the decision a little.”

The Bruins have covered in all three of their 2021 NCAA tournament games thus far with an 86-80 OT win over Michigan State in the First Four round, a 73-62 victory over BYU last Saturday, and a 67-47 blowout victory over Abilene Christian on Monday.

This Saturday’s second NCAA Tournament game has seen a 1-point move upwards on Baylor, the top seed in the South Region. The Bears are favorites over Villanova.

“It’s been all Baylor so far,” Bogdanovich said. “This is going to be a big decision, we’re going to need Villanova for a small wheelbarrow full of money. That line move was probably sharp money and I think the public will be on Baylor as well.”

William Hill sportsbook reported Friday that Baylor has taken 87% of the spread bets – the most of any team/matchup in the Sweet 16.

DraftKings Sportsbook also reports one-way action on Baylor, with 85% of the bets on the Bears.

Big bets

A BetMGM, one bettor made a big spread bet on Alabama -6, $451,000 to win $410,000.

Several other large spread bets came in at BetMGM.

  • $367,200 to win $306,000 on Oregon +3
  • $306,000 to win $255,000 on Loyola Chicago -6
  • $222,2000 to win $202,000 on Florida State +3

Florida State will take on Michigan, the 1 seed in the East, Sunday afternoon.

“The sharps took Florida State +3,” Bogdanovich said. “I think it’ll be a very small decision. I expect the public to be a little more on Michigan.”

Sportsbook offers for the NCAA Tournament

  • DraftKings Sportsbook is allowing users to pick a new bracket for the Sweet 16 and beyond to get a shot at a share of $100,000 in total prizing. To sign up for DraftKings Sportsbook go here.
  • FanDuel Sportsbook has a $1 Million Giveaway. If you place a wager on any NCAA Tournament game, you will receive an entry into the $1 Million drawing at the end of the tournament. Participants may earn one entry every day from March 14 through April 4. So the more you bet, the more entries into the Giveaway you’ll earn. Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook by going here.
  • BetMGM is giving its users two 10% Parlay Boost Tokens each day of the tournament. To start with BetMGM go here.
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College basketball odds

Here are line comparisons from the top US sportsbooks.

Saturday, March 27 schedule

Click on the links below for betting previews of each Sweet 16 game.

Sunday, March 28 schedule

Pac-12 sends four teams to the Sweet 16

The under-appreciated Pac-12 “Conference of Champions” sent four teams to the Sweet 16 after five made the NCAA Tournament. Pac-12 teams went 9-1 SU/ATS in the opening rounds.

Sunday’s late game is most interesting as the only intra-conference showdown between Sweet 16 teams: Oregon and USC.

The matchup opened as a pick ’em at William Hill, then the line jumped to USC -2.5. The spread dropped slightly Thursday, as the Trojans are now 2-point chalk.

“Some sharps liked the 2.5, so it got bet down,” Bogdanovich said. “These teams and coaches know each other very well, so I can see why it went to 2. This is a phenomenal matchup and this is the most exciting game to me out of the eight this weekend.”

William Hill took a futures bet on USC (+20000) in early January for $1,000. The bettor stands to win $200,000 if the Trojans cut down the nets and win it all.

Over/under moves

Totals have been moving and William Hill altered three games by more than a point from their original number: Michigan vs. Florida State (146.5 to 143.5), Baylor vs. Villanova (139 to 141) and Alabama vs. UCLA (144 to 145.5).

The Baylor vs Villanova total has moved the most at DraftKings Sportsbook, going from 137.5 to 141.5.

Sharps hit the Under hard in the Michigan vs Florida State game. It’s now down further to 143.5 on Friday at DK.

Look to the futures

Gonzaga, the top seed in the West Region, remains the clear-cut favorite to win it all.

One thing to keep in mind when wagering on NCAA title futures at this stage of things is that the West will play the East and the Midwest will play the South on Final Four Saturday. This means that if Gonzaga beats Creighton this Sunday and beats the winner of USC vs. Oregon on Tuesday, the Zags could still eventually wind up playing two No. 1 seeds in Michigan (East) and Baylor (South) in the Final Four/National title games.

Here is a look at National Title bet count percentage at PointsBet heading into the Sweet 16.

TeamBet count %Odds
Florida State2.24%+1600

NCAA National Championship odds

Here are current NCAA men’s basketball National Title odds.

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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and gaming analyst and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful professionals. Jay has pursued his passions and maintained a pulse on the sports, gaming and poker industries while living in Las Vegas for nearly two decades. He's been a regular featured guest on sports and gaming radio shows, podcasts and produces sports betting and related industry articles and content for various sites and sources.

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