NCAAB
March 23, 2022

Corrigan's Gambling Corner: March Madness Best Bets: Sweet 16, Day 1

Welcome back to the gambling corner. We are back with some best bets for the first day of the Sweet 16. 

The first two rounds of March Madness were awesome, and although the Round of 64 killed my wallet, the Round of 32 saved my ass, and I actually ended up 7.4 units, so we are off to a good start. There were so many upsets, great games, and exciting finishes.

Looking at the matchups for the first day of the Sweet 16, we may be in for a hell of a day, folks. Every single game is going to be a war, and there are a lot of great bets out there. Anyway, enough of the boring stuff, let's get straight into the picks. 

We would love you to tail our picks, but we would especially love you to make a lot of money. As a sign of courtesy, we included the parlay odds for all three of our picks. We just ask that you always remember to gamble responsibly.

Here are tonight's plays.

*Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

So far this tournament, Arkansas has shown exactly what they are. The Razorbacks are an extremely talented team, but sometimes, they cannot get out of their own way. Eventually, that is going to cost them in the tournament, and that might come this week with the top overall seed facing off against the Hogs. 

Arkansas dragged ass all the way until the end of their Round of 32 matchup against New Mexico, and Vermont gave them a run in the first round. On the other side, Gonzaga looked bad in the first half of their first game against Georgia State but then cruised to a 21-point victory. The next round almost saw Gonzaga fall to Memphis, but at the end of the day, Gonzaga behind Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren are the most lethal team in the country. 

Gonzaga has the best offense in the country, they only allow 66 points per game, and their length is going to cause some problems for a poor shooting team like Arkansas.

On the season, the Razorbacks are ranked 237th in effective field goal percentage, 314th in three-point shooting percentage, and 148th in shooting efficiency. However, Arkansas is scoring 76.2 points per game, and the total has gone over in 21 of Arkansas' 35 games. 

Gonzaga is certainly deserving of being a damn near double-digit favorite, but that just seems like too many points for a tournament team. Arkansas is 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 games, and while they will ultimately lose, I think the Hogs will easily cover. 

Pick: Arkansas +9.5 (-110)

Michigan Wolverines vs. Villanova Wildcats

I think Michigan solely exists to be a frisky team in the tournament. Watching the Wolverines a lot this season, I was certain they would be bounced in the first round. As it turns out, I was very much wrong. 

Michigan was never a bad team this season, but coming in with a 17-14 record doesn't exactly scream "contender." The offense is highly effective, but Michigan's defense is ranked 170th in scoring, 172nd in effective field goal percentage, and 162nd in shooting efficiency. On the other side, Villanova's offense is fine, but there is nothing special about them beyond Collin Gillespie. 

The Wildcats' defense is what makes them so dangerous. They are ranked 22nd in scoring, eighth in steals, and teams shoot a very low percentage against them. The problem is, like most teams in the country, they really do not have an answer for Hunter Dickinson.

The Wolverines have talented littered around this roster with Dickinson, Eli Brooks, and five-star prospect Caleb Houstan. I do not know why they were not as good this regular season, but injuries, a tough Big Ten, and their coach punching another coach probably did not help. Anyway, I think this Michigan team is special, and although Villanova is going to be tough to beat, they have the perfect team to do so. 

Pick: Michigan +5 (-110)

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Duke Blue Devils

This game is going to be a war. 

In the red corner (Texas Tech), you have one of the toughest defenses in the country, and in the blue corner (Obviously Duke), you have one of the most explosive offenses in all of college basketball. 

The Red Raiders are the top-ranked defense according to KenPom, and they are ranked sixth in scoring, 17th in effective field goal percentage and shooting efficiency, and third in shooting percentage. While the offense can go flat, they put up 97 in their first-round game, and they shoot the ball very well. 

On the other side, Duke is ranked sixth in scoring, 10th in effective field goal percentage, fifth in shooting percentage, and 11th in shooting efficiency. The Blue Devils also have the advantage of the storybook ending on their side. With every game having the possibility of being Coach K's last game ever if you have not noticed, my gambling brain is telling me that Duke is going to get a call or two, especially with how hard Texas tech plays defense.

Still, Texas Tech is my National Champion, and against some of the best teams in the Big-12, the Red Raiders have looked very good. Duke, on the other hand, tends to get lost against good teams. When it comes to the tournament, I like to side with the offensive-minded teams, but I have made it this far with Texas Tech all season, and I will be damned if I let a retirement party stop me. 

Pick: Texas Tech -1 (-110)

Houston Cougars vs. Arizona Wildcats

The oddsmakers are on their hands and knees BEGGING us to bet on Arizona with that 1.5-point spread. For months now, every analyst is who is worth a damn has been telling you that Arizona is the biggest threat to Gonzaga. Honestly, they may not be wrong. 

On the season, Arizona is ranked third in scoring, ninth in effective field goal percentage, and eighth in shooting percentage. The Wildcats are also ranked 18th in KenPom offensive efficiency rating, and their duo of Azuolas Tubelis and Christian Koloko will cause hell in the paint on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. 

However, Houston may just have enough to make a championship run. Outside of Gonzaga, the Cougars are the only team inside KenPom's top 10 for offensive, and defensive efficiency rating and the Cougars are 5-0 ATS in their last five, and 24-12 ATS this season. 

Arizona has been held to under 75 points in all three of their losses this season, and Houston has not given up that many points in a month. If Arizona struggles to score on arguably the best pound-for-pound defense in the country, they have no chance in this game. 

Pick: Houston +1.5 (-110)

PARLAY ODDS: (+1228) 1 UNIT TO WIN 12.28 UNITS

Photo: Getty Images