The Sweet 16 has arrived in March Madness! There have already been some crazy upsets – did anybody predict Saint Peter’s? Sportsbooks are already starting to post opening NCAAB betting lines for the Sweet 16, so I’m already loading up some college basketball bets. As they say, the early bird gets the worm.
Below, I am going to preview my favorite college basketball game for the Sweet 16: UCLA vs UNC. I’ll also give out my best bets, picks and predictions for this NCAAB matchup.
Before I give out my picks, predictions and best bets for UCLA vs UNC, I am going to give a preview of both teams. We’ll start with the underdog, UNC.
UNC has a 26-9 record this season. They upset Duke in the ACC tournament, which was also Coach K’s last home game as the Duke head coach. In the round of 64, UNC blew out Marquette 95-63. Then, in the round of 32, UNC shocked the college basketball world with a 93-86 win against #1 seed Baylor. UNC was up 13 points against Baylor at the half, but Baylor came back and sent the game into overtime.
UCLA, the favored team, has a 27-7 record overall. In the round of 64, UCLA squeaked out a win against 13 seed Akron in a low scoring game. Subsequently, in the round of 32, UCLA demolished Saint Mary’s 72-56.
For this Sweet 16 game, I am taking the North Carolina Tar Heels, the underdog, outright. I think that +120 is insane value for a team that just upset #1 seed Baylor. At one point in the game, UNC was beating Baylor by over 25 points in the second half. The Baylor vs UNC game had questionable officiating as well, but we won’t get into that…
The Tar Heels will have Brady Manek back in this game. Manek had 26 points in their game against Baylor before he was ejected from the game for a flagrant foul. I think that Manek will be a force in this game, and my prediction is that he’ll score at least 25 points and be seeking revenge for his ejection from the Baylor game.
The UCLA Bruins looked weak in their initial game of March Madness as well. They only put up 57 points against Akron, beating them by 4 points. UCLA was a -15 point spread favorite in this game, and they were losing the game at the end of the first half.
For a variety of reasons, I think that UNC should be the favored team in this game. And sports bettors around the country appear to agree with me – sharp action has already been piling in on UNC moneyline. The Tar Heels opened as bigger underdogs, but sports bettors continue to bet on them, so their moneyline odds have already started to come down across sportsbooks.
My prediction is that UCLA will keep the game close in the first half, but UNC will pull away in the second half. Thus, I think the best bet for this game is UNC moneyline, and that’s the pick I am rolling with for this Sweet 16 game.