The second batch of Elite 8 competitors will be decided on Friday when the last of the Sweet 16 games are completed in the NCAA Tournament. Five teams from the ACC reached the Sweet 16 round and two of them will square off when the No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils and No. 4 Virginia Tech Hokies decide one East Region finalist. The teams met during the regular season with Tech handing the Zion-less Dookies one of their five losses on the year. Three of those defeats came when the future No. 1 NBA draft pick was sidelined with a minor knee injury.
The presence of Williamson is enough to sway oddsmakers strongly toward Duke. The Blue Devils are the biggest favorite on the college basketball betting line giving the Hokies 7-points. Tech played that earlier meeting without one of its top players as Justin Robinson was out. VT is a better team with Robinson in the lineup, but is he enough to overcome the youthful enthusiasm of the baby Blue Devils?
BookMaker.eu will have NCAA Basketball Odds and live betting options for every game on the Friday schedule.
College Basketball Sweet 16 Schedule
LSU vs. Michigan State ( -6, 148 ), 7:09 p.m. ET (CBS)
Auburn vs. North Carolina ( -5, 164 ), 7:29 p.m. ET (TBS)
Virginia Tech vs. Duke ( -7, 144 ), 9:39 p.m. ET (CBS)
Houston vs. Kentucky ( -3, 134.5 ), 9:59 p.m. ET (TBS)
Friday Sweet 16 Best Bets
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 2 Michigan State ( -6, 148 ), 7:09 p.m. ET (CBS)
Most teams would have folded after the head coach was allegedly caught in the college basketball bribery scandal discussing possible payment to a player. The LSU Tigers instead used it as a galvanizing moment. With Will Wade suspended and the eligibility of Javonte Smart in question, LSU was ousted in its first SEC tournament game. Smart was cleared after missing one game, but many felt the pressure of not having Wade on the sideline and the scrutiny piled on the program would be too much to overcome. Think again.
The Tigers are a quality club. You don’t win the SEC regular season crown by luck. They can also score the basketball with Tremont Waters leading the way with 15 points per game. Naz Reid is having an outstanding season in his first year scoring 13.7 points with 7.9 boards per game. The offense will have to be sharp against a Michigan State team that holds opponents to 37.7 percent shooting and 65.1 points per outing.
Sparty counters with talented Cassius Winston, who averages 18.9 points and 7.5 assists. The return of Nick Ward from a late season injury propelled MSU to the Big Ten tournament title and a 70-50 rout of Minnesota in the second-round, despite committing 22 turnovers. Valuing the basketball has been a season-long issue for the Spartans and LSU will use that to cover the spread.
No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 1 Duke ( -7, 144 ), 9:39 p.m. ET (CBS)
Can the Hokies do it again? We haven’t seen many upsets in the Tournament to this point, so why not. And it’s not like Duke has been overpowering. In fact, the Dookies are lucky to be here after they escaped UCF’s second-round upset bid. Tech enters with a boatload of confidence after reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1962 and having an earlier win over the Blue Devils. The Hokies pulled out a 77-72 home win at the end of February. They didn’t face Williamson in that matchup, and the Dookies haven’t lost since the ACC player of the year returned to the lineup.
Zion scored 32 points with 11 rebounds in the UCF game, and his presence allows Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett to do what they do best. The Blue Devils can score, but depth could be an issue. They used only seven players against the Knights. The Devils were hurt by Kerry Blackshear Jr. in the first meeting. He scored 23 points, but they will be harder to come by with Williamson roaming the paint. Robinson, Tech’s third leading scorer with 13.4 points per game, also missed the first meeting and returned for the Tournament after a lengthy absence. Still, Duke must feel like a team of destiny after getting past UCF and I like them to cover in this one.
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