The second round of the NCAA tournament wasn’t much fun for either underdogs or fans of underdogs: All 16 betting favorites won, the first time that’s happened since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, per ESPN, with 11 of the 16 games decided by double digits and five decided by at least 20 points.
Will the chalk continue? Here’s an early look at the betting trends for the region semifinals.
All times Eastern. Point spreads and totals via VegasInsider.com as of Monday afternoon.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 Florida State
Thursday, 7:09 p.m., CBS
Point spread: Gonzaga -6.5
Of note: The Bulldogs and Seminoles meet in the Sweet 16 for the second straight season after Florida State’s upset win as a six-point underdog in 2018.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Texas Tech
Thursday, approx. 9:39 p.m., CBS
Point spread: Michigan -2
Of note: It’s a battle of two of the slowest-paced teams remaining in the tournament (the Wolverines rank 317th nationally in pace, per Ken Pomeroy, while the Red Raiders rank 231st). Texas Tech and Michigan also rank 1-2 nationally in KenPom defensive efficiency.
No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Purdue
Thursday, 7:29 p.m., TBS
Point spread: Tennessee -1
Of note: The Boilermakers have gone 40-19 ATS in their last 59 games against nonconference opponents (8-5 this season, with two NCAA tournament covers). The Vols have gone over the total in six straight.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 12 Oregon
Thursday, approx. 9:59 p.m., TBS
Point spread: Virginia -8
Of note: The Cavs and Ducks also operate at extremely slow speeds, with Virginia ranking dead last nationally in KenPom pace and the Ducks not far behind at 328th. Oregon has stayed under the total in 14 of its last 19 games. A No. 1 seed has never lost to a No. 12 seed in 19 all-time Sweet 16 matchups and top seeds are 9-3 ATS in the last 12 such games.
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 LSU
Friday, 7:09 p.m., CBS
Point spread: Michigan State -6
Of note: The Spartans enter on a 9-4 ATS run. The Tigers are 8-5 ATS in their last 13 games, but they have yet to cover in three postseason games.
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech
Friday, approx. 9:39 p.m., CBS
Point spread: Duke -7.5
Of note: The Blue Devils have been one of the nation’s more reliable under teams this season, staying below the total in 24 of 35 games, but split on the total over their first two NCAA tournament games. Duke failed to cover in each of its first two NCAA tournament games as a No. 1 seed; the last two times that happened — 2000 and 2005 — the Blue Devils lost their Sweet 16 game outright.
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Auburn
Friday, 7:29 p.m., TBS
Point spread: North Carolina -5
Of note: The Tar Heels have covered the spread in five of their last six games, while the Tigers have covered in six of their last eight.
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Houston
Friday, approx. 9:59 p.m., TBS
Point spread: Kentucky -2.5
Of note: It will be interesting to see where this spread goes after we hear about the status of Wildcats leading scorer and rebounder P.J. Washington, who missed Kentucky’s first two NCAA tournament games with a sprained left foot. The Wildcats won and covered their first two NCAA tournament games without him.