College Basketball
2024 March Madness odds: Sweet 16 best bets, including Clemson to cover
College Basketball

2024 March Madness odds: Sweet 16 best bets, including Clemson to cover

Published Mar. 27, 2024 2:30 p.m. ET

The first two rounds of the 2024 NCAA Tournament are in the books, meaning it's already time to place your bets on the Sweet 16!

We saw a handful of lower seeds advance in the first round, including the hot shooting Oakland over Kentucky, but only one true Cinderella advanced past the Round of 32: No. 11 NC State

There was an overtime thriller, with the Houston Cougars surviving against Texas A&M, but otherwise, all the No. 1 seeds advanced past the opening weekend in dominant fashion. 

If the Sweet 16 is anything like what we've seen thus far, you better hold onto your seats.


And always remember, every game can be an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride when you have a little pizza money invested.

So let's get to my best Sweet 16 picks.

(All times ET)

No. 3 Illinois vs. No. 2 Iowa State (10:09 p.m. Mar. 28, TBS)
No. 11 NC State vs. No. 2 Marquette (7:09 p.m. Mar. 29. CBS)

If Iowa State can control the tempo, it should be able to keep its game against Illinois in the 60s or 70s and secure the victory. 

Purdue held Illinois under 80 twice and won both meetings. Tennessee also held Illinois under 80 and won. In November, Marquette’s elite defense held Illinois to 64 points and secured the victory. 

Iowa State has the top defense in the country and wants to play at a slow pace (206th in America in adjusted tempo). The Cyclones defeated Houston twice, holding the Cougars under 60 points both times.

Illinois is led by two veteran 23-year-old wings in Terrence Shannon and Marcus Domask, and they also have a 22-year-old, inside-outside threat in Coleman Hawkins

The Illini are hot, having won six in a row, although two of their Big Ten wins came against Nebraska and Wisconsin — teams that were hammered in the first round of March Madness.

Let's turn our attention to the NC State-Marquette matchup.

At +6.5 points, Marquette is a sizable favorite against NC State. You have to wonder what the Wolfpack has left in the tank after the excitement of peeling off five wins in the ACC Tournament and the upset of Texas Tech, followed by the overtime triumph against plucky Oakland. 

The edge the Wolfpack has is in size. They've got 275-pound DJ Burns inside, along with 6-foot-10 athletes in Ben Middlebrooks and Mohamed Diarra

Marquette has had issues with size and grades out poorly when it comes to giving up second chances on the offensive glass (winless in three games against UConn). 

Free throws are also terrifying me in backing Marquette. The Golden Eagles rank 245th in the country in that spot.

If Marquette gets a poor whistle early, foul trouble could do the Eagles in because they don’t have a bench. 

In Tyler Kolek, I trust. 

PICK: Iowa State and Marquette ML parlay

Is this UConn's March Madness tournament to lose?

No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 North Carolina (9:39 p.m. Mar. 28, CBS)
No. 3 Creighton vs. No. 2 Tennessee (10:09 p.m. Mar. 29, TBS)

The narrative around the Vols is that Rick Barnes cannot win in March. And his 4-16 record against the spread (ATS) in the tourney since 2010 is proof you can’t back him. 

But it’s tough to turn them down in this spot. 

Dalton Knecht, the SEC Player of the Year, is a brutal matchup for Creighton and the Vols have the backcourt edge, too.

Creighton is a veteran team that’s had a tremendous three-year run. 

The Bluejays suffered an excruciating March loss to San Diego State last year on a questionable call. 

In 2022, they fell to eventual champ Kansas, and in 2021, to national title runner-up Gonzaga

It feels like their passive defense won’t get the job done here against a Tennessee team that might be undervalued because the SEC has flamed out in March and the Vols nearly choked away a lead against the Longhorns because they shot 3-of-25 on 3-pointers. 

Turning now to Tide-Tar Heels. 

The Tide are fraudulent defensively. Alabama gave up 96 points to Charleston and then barely got by Grand Canyon in the last five minutes. Bama also gave up 102 points to Florida two weeks ago, 105 to the Gators three weeks ago, and 117 to Kentucky last month. 

UNC’s offense should feast and might even hit triple digits. 

The Tide have a scrappy, deep team, led by star point guard Mark Sears, whose game is somewhat reminiscent of Jalen Brunson

I fell for this team last year. And even though it had two NBA players on that roster in Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney, the Tide still wilted against a tough San Diego State defense.

PICK: Tennessee and North Carolina ML parlay

No. 6 Clemson vs. No. 2 Arizona (7:09 p.m. Mar. 28, CBS)

I loved the Tigers coming into the tournament and was fine being on an island backing them against fashionable New Mexico

Clemson rolled. 

Then I took the Tigers against favored Baylor, and it was another wire-to-wire victory. 

Sure, Clemson suffered some bad losses this season. The Tigers lost to Miami, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame and then got smacked by 21 by Boston College in the ACC tourney. 

Here’s the thing, though: In the non-conference, they beat NCAA tourney teams UAB, Boise State, Alabama, South Carolina and TCU

Will the real Clemson please stand up? 

I think it will here, even though the game is being played in Los Angeles, where Arizona will likely have a 90-10 home-court advantage. 

You have to love that Clemson ranks eighth in the country in foul shooting. That stat includes Syracuse transfer Joe Girard, who ranks first from the free-throw line. 

Also consider this: Clemson lost three games by one point, one game by two points and suffered a 3-point loss in double overtime. 

Also, Caleb Love is streaky. He runs hot and cold, and when the latter happens, Arizona can struggle for offense. 

It’s always risky taking the ‘dog in enemy territory, but Clemson’s slow pace, coupled with its offensive shooting (38th in the country in 2-pointers), should give the Tigers a chance to keep this close all night. 

PICK: Clemson (+7) to lose by fewer than 7 points (or win outright)

Jason McIntyre is the co-host of The Herd and a FOX Sports gambling analyst, and he also writes about the NFL and NBA Draft. He joined FS1 in 2016 and has appeared on every show on the network. In 2017, McIntyre began producing gambling content on the NFL, college football and NBA for FOX Sports. He had a gambling podcast for FOX, "Coming Up Winners," in 2018 and 2019. Before arriving at FOX, he created the website The Big Lead, which he sold in 2010. You can find him on Twitter @JasonRMcIntyre.\


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