March Madness Sweet 16 Games to Bet Now

Mar 20, 2022; San Diego, CA, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Marcus Santos-Silva (14) and guard
Mar 20, 2022; San Diego, CA, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Marcus Santos-Silva (14) and guard / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We are onto the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Sure, the first two rounds didn't go my way, easily one of my worst weekends of the season in a year full of ups and downs, but I'm not going to let that deter my process. If this little cold streak happened in January ,it's just another poor stretch with a handful of tough beats, not going to harp on it.

While some of the results were a bit chalky during the first weekend of March Madness, we have been granted a handful of marquee matchups in the Sweet 16 and potentially the Elite 8 of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, including Texas Tech vs. Duke and Houston vs. Arizona.

Here are some plays I got down on during the early part of this week. Miami is no longer in the range where I'd play it, but you can find my plays in real time on betstamp.

Here are my Sweet 16 plays for Thursday and Friday, with odds courtesy of WynnBET Sportsbook:

Column Record: 113-123-4 -14.6 Units

Villanova (-5) vs. Michigan

There is no denying that Michigan has the talent to hang with almost any team in the country. We saw glimpses of what could've been this season with the Wolverines, centered around star big man Hunter Dickinson, who combined for 48 points and 15 rebounds on 69% shooting in the first weekend of the tourney.

However, I'm not sure the team can hold up against Villanova, who may gash Juwan Howard's team in the pick-and-roll. Nova's shot making from all over the floor, top half of the country in both 3-point and 2-point percentage as well as the best free throw mark in the nation, is going to prove too much for Michigan, who has dealt with bouts of inconsistency from the perimeter. Michigan has the 21st lowest turnover rate in the country and are outside the top 100 in 3-point defense, per KenPom.

Dickinson has the ability to dismantle the Villanova frontcourt who lacks a player of his size, but the team's matchup zone may protect them from getting dominated inside.

Villanova's defense makes it difficult to get inside, allowing the 22nd furthest proximity of shots, per Haslemetrics, and I can't trust Michigan's shot making to keep up with Villanova's stable of shooters -- Jay Wright has five guys shoot over 35% from beyond the arc.

Similar to the Ohio State matchup in the Round of 32, I see the Wildcats keeping the Wolverines at arm's length for much of this one and covering the spread.

PICK: Villanova -5

Texas Tech (-1) vs. Duke

I had this matchup circled since Selection Sunday and it's time to bet on it. Duke may have the star studded players, future NBA lottery picks and famed coach Mike Krzyzewski's 'Last Dance,' but they are ill-equipped to handle the Texas Tech defense that ranks first in the nation in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency metric.

While Duke has the size to match the Red Raiders, I am curious if the team will execute properly. We have seen this team look overwhelmed and ill-prepared at times this season when they solely relied on their talent to bail them out (see: matchups against Virginia and Miami and Michigan State). Now, the team's bottom half of the country assist rate, may leave their offense short on answers.

Texas Tech can switch 1-5 and Duke is going to need to move the ball with precision in order to beat the 'no-middle' defense. If the Blue Devils try to win this game through Paolo Banchero isolations, Coach K's final Tournament run is ending in the Sweet 16.

Mark Adams' team struggles protecting the ball, sometimes it appears the team is just eager to get back and defend, but I'm going to trust a team full of seniors to be on their best behavior on Thursday night. The team is an elite cutting unit and awesome on the offensive glass, two spots where the Duke defense is vulnerable. The Blue Devils are outside the top 200 in defensive rebounding rate.

Of course, Duke may get a favorable whistle given the physicality of Texas Tech, who ranks 228 in opponent free throw rate, but I think Texas Tech is the better team and it's time for me to get down on Coach K's final loss.

PICK: Texas Tech -1

Providence (+7.5) vs. Kansas

I lean Providence to hang around in this game. While many have discussed at length about the 'luck' factor related to the Friars, who amounted an 11-2 record in games decided by five or less this season, this is a veteran bunch who has made living off of finding ways to win.

They will be going up against a talented No. 1 seed Kansas squad, but Bill Self's team has been mediocre at best on the defensive side of the ball. For starters, the team doesn't excel anywhere, ranking in the middle of the pack in turnovers forced and defensive rebounding rate.

Further, ShotQuality ranks the Jayhawks defense 46th in the country, and gives the team an adjusted record of 24-12. This means the team has benefitted from some shot variance in their favor.

Providence may not be the most lethal perimeter shooting team but they have a reliable big man in Nate Watson and capable 3-point threats around Al Durham in Jared Bynum and AJ Reeves, who both shot north of 38% from beyond the arc this season.

Yes, Kansas has the star power with Ochai Agbaji and a healthy Remy Martin, but I think they are going to struggle to get enough stops to pull away from the veteran Friars who have found a way to outperform expectations all season.

PICK: Providence +7.5, play to +7