The opening weekend of the men's NCAA Tournament had its fair share of upsets and thrillers, and the second weekend is bound to follow suit when the Sweet 16 tips off Thursday evening.
The action gets underway with No. 7 Michigan State and No. 3 Kansas State in the East Region in the early slot and the nightcap is a March Madness rematch from a few years back between No. 3 Gonzaga and No. 2 UCLA in the West Region.
Find a game breakdown and best bet for both contests below. And check in with the updated national title odds entering the Sweet 16 here and you can find all of the spreads for the third round of the tournament here.
March Madness Odds: No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Kansas State
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET | TBS
Spread: Michigan State -2 (-110) | Kansas State +2 (-118)
Moneyline: MSU (-138) | KSU (+110)
Over/Under: 137.5 – Over (-118) | Under (-110)
The Spartans and Wildcats both pulled off upsets to set up this Sweet 16 matchup. MSU enters as a slim favorite despite being the lower seed after it pulled off a 69-60 win over No. 2 Marquette in the Round of 32 and scored a resounding 76-62 victory over No. 10 USC in the Round of 64. KSU just beat No. 6 Kentucky, 75-69, after it handled No. 14 Montana State, 77-65, in the opening round.
Markquis Nowell has been a force of nature for Kansas State through two tournament games. He tallied 17 points and 14 assists in the Round of 64 and he scored 27 points and added nine assists in the win over UK. He’s been aided by Keyontae Johnson, who scored 18 and 13 points, respectively, and drained a clutch three against the Wildcats, assisted by Nowell, of course. As for Michigan State, Tyson Walker’s 23 points led all scorers against the Golden Eagles and Joey Hauser scored 17 points against the Trojans, and he followed that up with a double-double.
These teams both rank inside the top 50 per KenPom in offensive and defensive efficiency, though the Wildcats are inside the top 20 on defense and the Spartans grade out slightly better than them on offense. The biggest difference between these teams on paper is their pace of play: KSU ranks 41st in adjusted tempo and MSU is No. 302. Both of Kansas State's games in the tournament have hit the over and are 18–16 for the year. Conversely, both Michigan State games have gone under and their point total record is 17–16 on the under this season. Count on the Spartans and point guard A.J. Hoggard to dictate the pace and slow the game down.
March Madness Odds: No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 UCLA
Time: 9:45 p.m. ET | CBS
Spread: Gonzaga +2.5 (-118) | UCLA -2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: GONZ (+110) | UCLA (-138)
Over/Under: 145.5 – Over (-110) | Under (-118)
Gonzaga vs. UCLA Best Bet: Over 145.5 (-110)
You might recall the last time these teams matched up in March. It was the 2021 Final Four and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs called game from just inside halfcourt to send UCLA home in overtime. Though that was two years ago, there are quite a few holdovers from those teams. Drew Timme, Gonzaga’s top scorer, rebounder and assists leader, was on the floor for that emotional win as were Jaime Jacquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell for the Bruins.
Now, they meet again, which seemed almost inevitable when the bracket was released. UCLA romped to an 86-53 blowout win over No. 15 UNC Asheville to begin the tournament and then got past No. 7 Northwestern, 68-63, in the second round. As for the Zags, they downed No. 14 Grand Canyon, 82-70, and survived No. 6 TCU’s upset bid to come away with an 84-81 win.
The Bulldogs and Bruins are two of the best teams in the country and the former boasts the No. 1 offense per KenPom while the latter has the No. 2 defense. UCLA ranks 244th in tempo, well behind Gonzaga, which is No. 40. Still, both Bruins games in the tournament have gone over and their over/under record is 18–18 this year. As for the Bulldogs, who average better than 87 points per game, the over is 1–1 in March Madness and 20–14 on the year. This will be the sixth-lowest point total of Gonzaga's entire season.
UCLA is a tough team to score on but if anyone can do it, it’s Gonzaga, which tallied 93 and 83 points the last two times these teams shared the floor. And the Bruins, who have a stout offense themselves, can certainly score on the Bulldogs’ defense, which yields more than 73 points per game and 75.5 through March Madness.
NCAA Tournament Betting Record
First Four: 3–1
Round of 64: 3–3
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