After an exciting Thursday and Friday of college basketball action, we are down to the final eight teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. March Madness has lived up to its name, with plenty of thrilling upsets including No. 1 seed Alabama and Houston going home and great performances from some of the biggest stars in the nation.
Now, the teams remaining must battle it out this weekend in the Elite Eight for a coveted trip to the Final Four in Houston.
While some teams like Gonzaga have been in this situation, others like Florida Atlantic, San Diego State and Miami enter uncharted territory and will be looking to make a statement. As for all of the betting opportunities … we’ve got you covered.
We gathered our betting experts and asked some of the most pressing questions regarding the Elite 8 matchups to help you make the best wagering decisions this weekend.
All odds are from Caesars Sportsbook.
1. FAU and Kansas State both opened as underdogs in their Sweet 16 matchups and managed to pull off upsets to advance to the Elite Eight. After Markquis Nowell‘s magic performance against Michigan State can the Wildcats advance to the Final Four or will FAU continue to prove doubters wrong and win again as an underdog?
Jeff Borzello: Is it possible to even pick against Markquis Nowell at this point? Fourteen assists in round one, 27 points and big shot after big shot against Kentucky and then his record-setting performance against Michigan State. He’s this year’s Kemba Walker — and some of his shots against the Spartans were eerily reminiscent of Walker’s key buckets during UConn’s 2014 run. I think FAU will do a better job of not leaving its defenders on an island against Nowell and will be more disciplined off the ball than Michigan State was against Nowell’s teammates, but it won’t be enough. Kansas State has size, it has versatility, it has older guys — and it has Nowell and Keyontae Johnson. Give me the Wildcats -2.
Dalen Cuff: I’ve been riding with Kansas State for the past two games where I felt they were the brand name underdog to Kentucky and Michigan State. In both those games they were predicted to win by Kenpom seen as underdogs by oddsmakers. In this game, the script is flipped as Kenpom predicts a FAU to win by one point. I think the Owls are formidable and this line is about where I thought it would be. However, my rationale holds true with the Wildcats. They’ve played a harder schedule, with better wins and have more dynamic players than their opponent. So I’m laying the 2 with the KSU.
Tyler Fulghum: I lean to Kansas State -2. This number is almost suspiciously low, but I’ll bite. FAU is obviously a very good team, but K-State has done nothing but answer every test this season playing out of the brutal Big 12. I think this game is set up to be a ripe environment for both offenses so I would also play the total over 144.5, but ultimately, I think Markquis Nowell and the Wildcats prevail and advance to the Final Four.
Anita Marks: K State has the best 1/2 punch in the tourney with Harlem native Nowell and forward Keyontae Johnson. They were magical Thursday night at The Garden, and the crowd will return tonight to cheer on Nowell – who is averaging 21 points, 14 assists, and 4 rebounds his last 3 games. He put up 19 assists against Michigan State. Look for him to shine again tonight, and be the highlight reel for One Shining Moment. I’m taking Nowell OVER 30.5 PAR (Points, Assists Rebounds) at -120.
2. The No. 3 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs narrowly escaped with a victory over UCLA in Las Vegas Thursday night, thanks to Julian Strawther‘s clutch three-pointer. Meanwhile the No. 4 seed UConn Huskies easily handled Arkansas in their Sweet 16 matchup Thursday. The Huskies opened as a two-point favorite over the higher seeded Bulldogs in the West. Do you like UConn to advance to their first Final Four since 2014, or will Gonzaga advance for the second time in the past three years?
Joe Fortenbaugh: UConn -2. Gonzaga advanced to the Elite 8 despite shooting an abysmal 52.9% from the free throw line while finishing an astounding -10 in turnover differential against UCLA. So why are they here? Great question. UCLA ran out of gas in the second half while the Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the floor over the 40-minute contest. Good luck replicating that kind of performance against the UConn freight train, who has so far trucked their March Madness opposition to the tune of a +62 point differential through three contests.
Borzello: Scoring, elite big men and rosters filled with shooters. This game should be terrific, two high-level offenses that are both in fantastic form right now. For me, the safest bet is over 153.5, mostly because it’s hard to imagine the game not being played in the 80s. As far as a winner, the key for me is UConn’s ability to get a few more stops offensively. Gonzaga has the nation’s best offense, but UConn does have some size and length down low to throw at Drew Timme and the Huskies have the physicality on the perimeter to trouble Gonzaga’s guards. At the other end, Gonzaga can struggle to contain dynamic teams. UCLA had three healthy scorers on its entire team and got to 76, TCU has been inconsistent offensively and scored 81. UConn is significantly better than both teams offensively. Can Sanogo get Timme into early foul trouble? That would be a game-changer — as would the reverse. I’ll take UConn -2.
Cuff: This could be the best game of the tournament. Two teams that have dynamic inside scorers in Drew Timme and Adama Sanogo, great guards and pros on the wings. Both can play at pace and score in a variety of ways. I imagine UConn will be getting a lot of love for the way they’ve played the last three games in dominating their opponents. But I see some value on the MoneyLine with the Zags. Experienced players and coach who have been in this spot before. Also, the Zags defense (outside of the first half against UCLA) has been much better over the last 4-5 weeks. I think they do enough to win a very tight game against the Huskies.
Marks: UConn has been the best team in overall efficiency in the country since February. Their defense is holding opponents to 39% shooting, while they average 51% from the field. Gonzaga was able to dominate the boards against UCLA, but that will not happen here with Sanogo in the paint for the Huskies. Zags defense ranks 75th in efficiency: take the over along with UConn.