The Duel

March Madness Sweet 16 Expert Predictions

By Ian McCafferty
UCF v Duke
UCF v Duke / Kevin C. Cox

Cover Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The first week of the NCAA Tournament is over and it left us with some thrilling games and a lot of chalk. All the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds made the Sweet 16 along with two No. 4 seeds, a No. 5 seed and a No. 12 seed. The upsets were few and far between and even some of the best games of the tournament, like Duke-UCF, ended with the high seed on top.

But this isn't necessarily a bad thing heading into Week 2. It just means we're going to get top teams matched up in nearly every game.

There will be eight games on Thursday and Friday that trim the field down to eight teams and they all look like intriguing matchups. No. 1 Duke vs No. 4 Va Tech, No. 2 Michigan State vs No. 3 LSU, No. 1 UVA vs No. 12 Oregon, No. 2 Tennessee vs No. 3 Purdue, No. 1 Gonzaga vs No. 4 Florida State, No. 2 Michigan vs No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 1 UNC vs No. 5 Auburn and No. 2 Kentucky vs No. 3 Houston.

However, with great games comes closer scoring margins and an increased difficulty in predicting the outcomes. So with that in mind let's take a look at who the experts think will be moving on to the Elite Eight. For full lines, check out FanDuel Sportsbook.

Sweet 16 Predictions

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report is leaning fully into the chalk for yet another round as they have all four No. 1 and No. 2 seeds winning. That would set us up with the Top-8 seeds in the Elite Eight. The two closest games on their predictions are Tennessee 71, Purdue 70 and North Carolina 91, Auburn 88. Every other prediction has the top seed winning by more than one basket.

Elite Eight: No. 1 Duke, No. 1 UNC, No. 1 UVA, No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 2 Tennessee, No. 2 Michigan, No. 2 Kentucky


FiveThirtyEight is getting us away from full chalk, if only a little bit, as they have seven of the eight higher seeds moving on, but No. 3 Texas Tech beating No. 2 Michigan in the West Region. That game and Tennessee-Purdue are both essentially toss-ups as Tennessee and Texas Tech only have a 51 percent chance to win.

Elite Eight: No. 1 Duke, No. 1 UNC, No. 1 UVA, No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 2 Tennessee, No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 2 Kentucky

ESPN Basketball Power Index Matchup Predictor

ESPN BPI is also unsurprisingly full of chalk as it has seven of the eight higher seeds advancing. However, unlike FiveThirtyEight, it believes that Michigan will beat Texas Tech, giving the Wolverines a 52.2 percent chance to win. The "upset" that BPI is predicting is Purdue over Tennessee, giving the Boilermakers a 50.7 percent chance to win. Outside of those two games, the other six games have the favorite firmly at advantage.

Elite Eight: No. 1 Duke, No. 1 UNC, No. 1 UVA, No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 3 Purdue, No. 2 Michigan, No. 2 Kentucky

So all three of our experts have fairly similar Elite Eights, with all four No. 1 seeds making it across the board to be joined by Michigan State and Kentucky. The predictions split a bit in the other two games as two out of three have Tennessee moving on while ESPN has Purdue and two of the three are going with the Michigan Wolverines while FiveThirtyEight has Texas Tech. Either way it looks like the tournament of chalk will continue.

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Ian McCafferty is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ian McCafferty also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username itmccaff. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.