NCAA Tournament Betting: These Underdogs Have Sweet 16 Potential
Saint Peter’s was the ultimate cinderella in college basketball last year.
The Peacocks became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight after beating No. 2 Kentucky, No. 7 Murray State and No. 3 Purdue to bust the majority of brackets and give life to a campus with an enrollment of just 2,637.
We might not see an underdog run to the same degree as Saint Peter’s again anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t long shots who could reach the second weekend. To help with your March Madness betting, here are two mid-majors with Sweet 16 potential to move on.
No. 10 Boise State +520 on FanDuel
The 2022 NCAA Tournament was one to forget for the Mountain West, with the conference getting four bids to the tournament and Boise State, Colorado State, Wyoming and San Diego State all losing.
Boise is back this year and returns an experienced cast that fits all the criteria for a cinderella team who can go on a run.
The Broncos defend at one of the best rates in the country, limiting opponents to 64 points a game while holding offenses to 31% shooting from beyond the arc.
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Four of the five starters are upperclassmen, with sophomore post-presence Tyson Degenhart leading the team with 14.3 points per game.
All five starters average in double-figures, and in addition to Degenhart’s versatility inside, the Broncos also have a do-it-all point guard in Marcus Shaver Jr. The senior point guard averages 13.5 points but also leads the team with 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Boise State has tournament experience, a defensive-minded veteran rotation and a reliable guard and post player to make them one of the more difficult outs in the tournament.
The Broncos face No. 7 Northwestern on Thursday before potentially matching up with No. 2 UCLA, who will be missing its top defender, Jaylen Clark (Achilles). Given its makeup, there’s a path for Boise State to advance to the second weekend.
No. 13 Kent State +600 on DraftKings
It’s been an interesting year for the Golden Flashes. A year ago before the MAC Tournament final against Toledo, four players were suspended for their role in a profane Snapchat video, resulting in Kent State losing 75-55.
Fast forward to last weekend, and Kent State dominated Toledo 93-78 in the MAC title for the school’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2017.
Five of the six leading scorers at Kent State were on the team last season. The offense is run through point guard Sincere Carry, who was the 2022 MAC Player of the Year and averaged 17.6 points, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Carry has the offensive flare and skill set to be one of the most fun players to watch in this tournament which may be coming in under the radar.
Malique Jacobs is one of the top defenders in the country, averaging the second-most steals per game (2.7). The Golden Flashes rank 15th in the country as a team with nine steals per contest.
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In addition to rolling through the MAC, Kent State has already proved it can play with the nation’s elite. Houston had to rally to edge the Golden Flashes at home, 49-44. Gonzaga also struggled with Kent State at home, needing to battle to secure a 73-66 win.
The Golden Flashes open up with an inconsistent Indiana team that has lost four of its last eight. If Kent State can pull off the upset, a matchup with another mid-major in Drake potentially awaits, or a showdown with a Miami group with injury concerns.
Adam Morrison, the Gonzaga icon who now calls the team’s games on the radio, mentioned he spoke with the Kent State radio crew before the Golden Flashes matchup with the Bulldogs.
The Kent State radio team told Morrison how the team attempted to load up its schedule with perennial powerhouses and called everyone across the country, but the only two teams to take their calls were Houston and Gonzaga.
Teams knew how good Kent State was, but understood it wasn’t worth the risk to take on a loss to a mid-major that could potentially damage a tournament resume. Well, now there is no ducking the Golden Flashes.
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