Dalzell's Dish


by Vaughn Dalzell
Updated On: March 20, 2023, 8:47 pm ET

Vaughn Dalzell ranks every underdog 1-8 in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

The best bets are ranked lower (1, 2, 3) and the worst underdogs are ranked higher, towards the bottom of this article (6, 7, 8).


1. Gonzaga +2 vs. UCLA: The Bulldogs still have the No. 1 offensive efficiency in the country and lead the nation in points per game (86.3), while the Bruins own the No. 2 ranked defense. UCLA being down a player or two hurts and with the firepower Gonzaga's offense has shown in the second-halves of the tournament makes me believe they have what it takes and that the Bulldogs are a better team this season than last year, even with less talent.

2. Kansas State +2 vs. Michigan State: K-State survived Kentucky and that elite offensive rebounding percentage from Big Blue (UK 19, KSU 4). Now, K-State has a much more positive matchup versus Michigan State who ranks 222nd in offensive rebounding percentage and 341st in defensive turnover percentage. The spread has moved in the Spartans' favor, but that doesn't matter to me.

3. Florida Atlantic +5.5 vs. Tennessee: FAU ranks 286th in defensive tempo compared to Tennessee who is 264th. The Vols are No. 1 in defensive efficiency and FAU is 35th, so expect another dog fight and low-scoring affair involving the Vols. The Owls are top 25 in minute continuity (66.3%) and bench minutes (38.6%) with the 30th-ranked offense. Tennessee looked great versus Duke, but I would not be shocked to see the Vols lose outright here to a scrappy, deep and experienced team with a 33-3 record.

4. Princeton +10 vs. Creighton: Princeton is getting over 75% of the bets and spread handle so far, so that is concerning, but so was Fairleigh Dickinson against Florida Atlantic and FDU covered. Creighton has played the No. 82nd and 105th ranked defenses in the tournament so far and now face Princeton's No. 96 ranked defense. Expect Creighton to put up points yet again after 72 and 85 points scored on NC State and Baylor.

5. San Diego State +8 vs. Alabama: This is an awfully big number, but if San Diego State gets trapped into Alabama's tempo, then it's going to be a long night for the Aztecs. Alabama is 5th in tempo and SDSU is 263rd overall, plus 346th on defense (out of 363). After beating Charleston and Furman, this matchup with Alabama is a significant step up in competition for San Diego State.

6. Miami +7 vs. Houston: Right now, multiple sports books are taking over 75 and 80% of the bets and handle on the Hurricanes' spread, so if the public is riding Miami heavy, then Houston will be the play. Houston handled Auburn 50-23 in the second-half of the previous game with Marcus Sasser and Jamal Shead playing a combined 65 minutes and 32 points. The Final Four is in Houston, so the Cougars have some added motivation.

7. Xavier +4 vs. Texas: The Longhorns are my pick to win the NCAA Tournament and despite being on Xavier in the previous win over No. 11 Pitt, that was easy because the Panthers don't have a defense and played two subpar offenses before seeing the Musketeers' high-flying offense. Texas is ranked No. 15 in offensive efficiency and No. 10 in defensive efficiency, one of five teams ranked top 20 in both, which should make the Longhorns too much to handle.

8. Arkansas +3.5 vs. UConn: The Huskies might be the best team in the country and are rolling, while the Razorbacks are coming off a monumental win over No. 1 Kansas and attempt to earn the third-straight trip to the Elite 8. Arkansas beat Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 last year and Oral Roberts the season before. However, this UConn team could be better than all three of those other squads (Arkansas, Gonzaga, Oral Roberts).



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