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.
The Florida Atlantic Owls and UConn Huskies have already punched their tickets to the Final Four in Houston. Now, the San Diego State Aztecs, Creighton Bluejays, Miami Hurricanes and Texas Longhorns will be looking to secure the two remaining spots. 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.
Creighton and SDSU are two of the top 15 defenses in the nation, but make no mistake about it, these offenses are more than capable. The Aztecs are fresh off of hanging 43 points in the second half against top-seeded Alabama (the third best defense in all the nation) while the Bluejays are 81 points per game through the first three rounds. Creighton entered the season with pedigree and expectations while San Diego State has lost just once since the beginning of February: who do you trust in a game sportsbooks are more or less labeling as a coin toss?
Borzello: A coin toss seems about right, but I trust Creighton a little bit more simply because the Bluejays have more offensive pop. I’m aware San Diego State just beat one of the most explosive offenses in the country despite Matt Bradley struggling, but Creighton is clicking at a really high level right now. They’ve already done it in different ways in the tournament, beating NC State inside the arc, making 11 3s and dominating the offensive glass against Baylor and hurting Princeton both inside out. They’ve had four different players score 19 or more points in a game in the NCAA tournament so far, and a fifth, Arthur Kaluma, has scored in double-figures all three games.
Cuff: I trust the Bluejays and will lay the two points. Both teams have high level defenses ranked in the top 15 in Kenpom Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. However Creighton is also top 25 on offense while SDSU is 70th. The Bluejays have more consistent and varied ways to score and with a short number, I like Creighton to dance into the Final Four.
Kezirian: I actually trust each team equally. San Diego State is playing with a swagger and confidence you rarely see from a mid-major conference. They know they belong and have demonstrated it every single game, especially after top-seeded Alabama. I am passing on a side because I think it is too close to call. However, I am playing the under. The Aztecs want to control this pace and they have played 11 straight unders.
Marks: Creighton -2. The Aztecs may have the better defense and the maturity, but the Bluejays have the overall better team. I picked Creighton to come out of the South before the tourney began. They are a team that checks all the boxes with very little to no flaws. The Bluejays have size, can shoot, are a good free throw team, and won’t go 3-for-27 from behind the arc like Alabama did against San Diego State. Creighton ranks 14th and 22nd in Offensive and Defensive efficiency.
The Longhorns are now favorites to cut down the nets one week from Monday after cruising past Xavier on Friday night. They’ve won seven straight overall and have made it to this point in the tournament without their leading scorer during the regular season leading them in scoring once. They face a Hurricanes team that dominated top-seeded Houston on Friday and is looking to avenge their Elite Eight loss from a year ago. Can Miami reach the first Final Four in program history or will Texas make good on their new role as tournament front runner?
Borzello: Friday night’s performances were stunning from both teams. I haven’t seen anyone run Houston off the floor like Miami did in a long, long time, and Texas dominating Xavier was simply eye-opening. Both teams are playing their best basketball of the season at the right time. One key will be the health of Dylan Disu, who spent Friday’s game with a boot on his foot. If he’s out, can Christian Bishop rise to the occasion like he did against Xavier? Norchad Omier has been a handful on the glass for everyone so far. For Miami, the Hurricanes will have to be opportunistic in transition to get easy points when Texas isn’t set defensively, like they did against Houston. I don’t know if Miami will win, but give me the Hurricanes +4.5.
Cuff: These have been two of the most impressive teams in the tournament. The first 35 minutes for the Canes against Drake were not good, since then they’ve been spectacular. Overwhelming teams with their many guards that can create, rebounding well on both ends and dictating terms to their opponents. Texas has been outstanding although Dylan Disu’s absence could be felt in this game. Miami has been the dog in their last 2 games and played like the favorite. I can see the upset, but I’ll take the Canes +4.5.
Marks: Texas -4.5, Under 149. The Canes are fun to cheer for with an exciting backcourt and a coach you can’t help but love in Jim Larranaga, but they have met their match facing Texas. The Longhorns have 5 starters that average double digit points, were one of the hottest teams coming into the tournament and are ranked 9th in defense efficiency. Hence, why I like the under, and believe Texas will control tempo and will try to make this a half-court game.