2021 March Madness Sweet Sixteen Best Bets

Looking for advice on what games to put down real-money during the 2021 Sweet Sixteen? Our best bets will give you three picks against the spread, an upset special, and some futures and prop choices.

Best Bets

Will the chaos of the first weekend carry over into March Madness Sweet Sixteen betting? Or will the best teams remaining rise above lesser competition for the rest of the tournament?

After a very profitable first round, let’s check in our 2021 March Madness results:

  • Spread bets: 4-1, up 3.5 units
  • Upset special: 1-0 +280
  • Futures bets: Loyola +8000 still alive/Iowa +2000 dead and buried
  • Props: 0-1 with one bet still in play

The 2021 March Madness Sweet Sixteen begins on Saturday, March 27 before ending on Sunday. Four games will be played each day. Whether your bracket is alive or busted, you can still find some best bets in the Sweet Sixteen.

March Madness Sweet Sixteen Best Bets

Through the first two rounds of the tournament, underdogs have covered the spread 23 times. Compare that to favorites, who have covered the spread … 23 times! Now that there are fewer games, it is more difficult to uncover value in the lines. With that said:

Oral Roberts vs. ARKANSAS (-11.0)*, Saturday, 7:25pm EDT, TBS

Frankly, Oral Roberts had no business beating Florida in the second round. They also benefited in the first round from Ohio State’s season-long inability to close out an opponent. Point guard Max Abmas’ play has been a revelation, but Oral Roberts is still overly reliant on the three.

Unlike Ohio State and Florida, Arkansas plays quick, with the 17th highest Adjusted Tempo in KenPom’s metrics. By maximizing the number of possessions through tempo, Arkansas’ talent advantage has more opportunities to take over. ORU still cannot play defense, instead relying on its opponents to make mistakes.


Arkansas guard Jalen Tate is a graduate transfer with plenty of big-game experience. He can be a difference maker once the shots stop falling for Oral Roberts.

Put a unit down on Arkansas -11.0 (-115) and pour one out for the end of Cinderella’s run.

Florida State vs. MICHIGAN (-2.5), Sunday, 5:00pm EDT, CBS

I know, I know. The Big Ten stunk so bad in Indiana that they could smell it back at headquarters outside Chicago. However, Michigan survived the best LSU could give them. The mark of a good team is being able to take your opponent’s best punch and advance. That clearly applied to UM in round two.

Fivethirtyeight essentially views this game as a pick ‘em. It also does not sound like top shooter Isaiah Livers will return for the Wolverines. So, why Michigan?

Despite the Seminoles’ height stacking up to Michigan’s, the duo of Hunter Dickinson and Franz Wagner make the difference. The freshman Dickinson in particular has room to grow as he gains more tournament experience. Look for him to build on his second-round double-double.

Take Michigan -2.5 (-105) for a unit.

USC (-2.0) vs. Oregon, Sunday, 9:45pm EDT, TBS

There is no need to create storylines for this PAC-12 matchup. USC big-man Isaiah Mobley started the fireworks by saying the Ducks “stole the PAC-12 championship” from the Trojans. The elder of USC’s Mobley brothers, Isaiah missed the team’s February 72-58 demolition of Oregon. Now, he’s back for the rematch on a much grander stage.

Since that loss, the Ducks have been playing outstanding basketball. Their dismantling of Iowa was impressive. However, USC is the better squad and looked scary-good against Kansas.

Now up to the sixth spot in KenPom’s Adjusted Efficiency Margin (AdjEM), USC’s superior size will win out.

Ride USC -2.0 (-105) and get some rest before the Elite Eight tips-off Monday night.

Sweet Sixteen Upset Special

Just because I like three favorites to cover does not mean chalk will rule the Sweet Sixteen.

VILLANOVA (+265) vs. Baylor, Saturday, 5:15pm EDT, CBS

This one is all about value. Nova is a 7.5-point underdog. There are three teams listed as 6.5-point underdogs for the Sweet Sixteen, but those moneylines lack punch. Oregon State is +230, while Syracuse and UCLA are only +220. And I believe Nova has a better shot of pulling the stunner than any of those three squads.

First, Nova has a proven championship coach in Jay Wright. It appears he has the Wildcats peaking at the right time. Of course, Baylor is a significant step up in competition over their prior opponents.

Villanova Logo

Villanova features an offense that can catch fire and put the Bears in a precarious position late. At 6th in KenPom’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, there is a possibility to exploit Baylor’s relatively weak defense.

According to fivethirtyeight’s analysis, Baylor was the second biggest defensive underperformer of the top seeds coming into the tourney. Others near the top included: Ohio State, West Virginia, Iowa, and Texas. All those teams are already gone.

If the Wildcats get hot, look for pressure and a coaching advantage to push them across the finish-line.

March Madness Sweet Sixteen Futures and Prop Bets

If you have a live Loyola Chicago winner ticket at +8000, congratulations. The Ramblers’ odds have dropped all the way to +1500, sixth best of the Sweet Sixteen teams.


Gonzaga still looks great, so it is hard to see anyone beating them. For a Futures bet with value, look to teams that can avoid the Zags until the Championship game.

Arkansas Winner +2000

One team that can make a run is the Razorbacks. Decided favorites in their Sweet Sixteen matchup versus Oral Roberts, they also would get the winner of Baylor-Villanova. I just told you why Baylor needs to be wary of that game.

In the Final Four, Arkansas’ likeliest opponent would be either Houston or Loyola. There is definitely a path for them to get all the way to the Championship game. At +2000, they present more upside than similarly situated squads.

Exact Finals Result – Michigan to Beat Villanova +12500

Finally, how about we put an extreme longshot on the board? Michigan would avoid Gonzaga until the Final Four, and definitely has a team that could cut down the nets. Meanwhile, Nova going on a run would not be unprecedented, and their path is wide-open if they can take down Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen.

I’m not saying this is going to happen. But at 125 to 1, it may be worth reinvesting a small portion of your winnings from round one.

Looking for the best place to make all your March Madness Sweet Sixteen bets? Check out our thorough explanation of betting on NCAA basketball, then find your perfect match in our sportsbook reviews.

*All odds per Bovada on 03/26/2021 at 1:00pm EDT.

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