Examining March Madness Longshots And Contenders Heading Into Sweet 16

Written By Corey Sharp on March 22, 2023
March Madness heads into the Sweet 16 this weekend.

The NCAA Tournament has reached the Sweet 16. March Madness betting is off to a roaring start with tons of upsets in the first weekend.

The second weekend is approaching and features 16 teams from 11 different conferences.

Only the Big East, SEC and Big 12 have multiple teams left in the Big Dance.

Let’s break down the contenders, longshots and dark horse squads.

Princeton highlights March Madness longshot schools

Princeton is the lowest seed remaining and, by far, the big Cinderella left in the tournament. The Tigers became just the fourth No. 15 seed of all time to reach the Sweet 16 and only one, St. Peter’s, made the Elite 8.

The Tigers have a tall task ahead of them, taking on Creighton on Friday at 9 p.m.

No PA sportsbook is giving Princeton any kind of chance to win the South Region.

Aside from being a 9.5-point underdog, DraftKings PA Sportsbook offers the longest odds for Princeton to win the South Region at +3000.

Miami, considered a Power 5 school within the ACC, is also one of the largest underdogs left in the tournament. The Hurricanes, as a No. 5 seed, took care of Drake and Indiana in the first two rounds and now face top-seeded Houston on Friday at 7:15 p.m.

Miami is a 7.5-point underdog to the Cougars and are +900 on the BetRivers PA Sportsbook in the “Make the Final 4” market.

Jim Laranaga has led Miami to a 27-7 record and was ranked as high as 13th in the country. Houston star guard Marcus Sasser expects to play through a groin injury. If he reinjures it, Miami could steal a bid in the Elite 8.

The remaining contenders to win the NCAA Tournament

Alabama and Houston are the two programs left with minus odds in any region or Final 4 market.

Alabama is the heaviest favorite of the two, with BetRivers providing the best odds at -134 for the Crimson Tide to reach the Final 4. BetMGM PA Sportsbook is not far behind, offering -135 odds for a Final 4 appearance.

Houston is -115 on both DraftKings and FanDuel PA Sportsbook to win the Midwest Region.

To give perspective on how heavy Alabama and Houston are as favorites, Caesars PA Sportsbook has a market called “Will a 1 seed win the tournament” and odds are +130 for yes and -160 for no. That means there’s a 43.48% chance of Houston or Alabama winning the tournament.

Considering that half of the No. 1 seeds have been eliminated, the probability remains somewhat high that Alabama or Houston will win it all.

Sweet 16 dark horse teams

Anyone that’s not considered a longshot or a contender falls under the dark horse category.

Kansas State’s case as a dark horse might be the most interesting. The Wildcats finished third in the Big 12, arguably the toughest league in the country, and earned a No. 3 seed in the East Region.

Kansas State technically upset No. 6 seed Kentucky in the second round, as John Calipari’s squad was a 3-point favorite. Kansas State is an underdog again to No. 7 seed Michigan State.

As the highest seed left in the East Region, Kansas State has the third-worst odds to win it at +340 odds on BetMGM Sportsbook.

Tennessee, also in the East Region, has the best odds to reach the Final 4, likely because it is playing No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic. The Volunteers make a strong case to be a dark horse team because of the easier road.

Most competitive March Madness region

The West Region is the most competitive in March Madness.

There are three teams with odds shorter than +240 to win the region on DraftKings Sportsbook. Connecticut and UCLA are the co-favorites to win the region at +210. Gonzaga is not far behind at +240 to take it.

The lowest-remaining seed, No. 8 Arkansas, brings up the rear at +550 to win the region. The Razorbacks, who upset top seed Kansas, are a 4.5-point underdog against No. 4 seed Connecticut.

No. 2 seed UCLA is a short 1.5-point favorite against Gonzaga.

Photo by José Luis Villegas / AP
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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