Sweet Sixteen Betting Preview: Gonzaga, North Carolina Among Favorites

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The Gonzaga Bulldogs will be looking for their second win in the Sweet Sixteen in as many years when they take on the Syracuse Orange on Friday as 4.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The No. 11 Bulldogs posted their seventh consecutive straight-up win on Saturday, handing No. 3 Utah an 82-59 defeat as slim 1-point chalk, extending a run that earned them both a share of the West Coast Conference regular season title and the WCC Tournament championship while locking up a March Madness berth for an incredible 18th straight year.

Gonzaga has reached the Sweet Sixteen in six of their prior 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, but takes just a 2-4 SU record in those contests into Friday night’s Bulldogs vs. Orange betting matchup at the United Center.

No. 10 Syracuse continued its unlikely March Madness run with a lopsided 75-50 rout of No. 16 Middle Tennessee on Sunday, easily covering as 6-point chalk to punch their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since reaching the Final Four in 2013.

Despite a strong opening weekend at the Big Dance, the Orange have underwhelmed in recent weeks, wrapping up their regular season schedule on a 1-4 SU run before being largely dominated by Pittsburgh in a 72-71 loss in the second round of the ACC Tournament.

Syracuse topped Gonzaga, 87-65, in their only previous March Madness meeting six years ago, but are winless SU in their past five outings as underdogs, and 2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS, in their past five Sweet Sixteen contests, according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database.

While the Orange and Bulldogs meet in a clash of higher-seed squads, all four No. 1 seeds are also in action at the Sweet Sixteen, including the Kansas Jayhawks, who look to notch a third straight win by double digits when they battle No. 5 Maryland as 6.5-point chalk.

No. 1 North Carolina also dominated in their first two East Region matchups, winning by an average margin of 17.5 points, but will be in tough when they face No. 5 Indiana as 5-point chalk on Friday.

The Tar Heels have won seven straight SU, 5-2 ATS, but have struggled in recent meetings with the surging Hoosiers, posting SU losses in three of their past four matchups, while failing to cover in each of those contests.

In other March Madness odds action, No. 1 Virginia searches for their first Sweet Sixteen win since 1995 when they take on No. 4 Iowa State as 5-point chalk, while No. 1 Oregon clashes with No. 4 Duke as 2-point favorites.