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NCAA Tournament Brackets and Bets: Tackling 8s vs. 9s

Terrence Shannon

Terrence Shannon

Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Seems like the majority of NCAA Tournament brackets award extra points for those who successfully pick the winner in all four 8-seed vs. 9-seed games. Three of the four No. 9 seeds won their opening round games in 2022, but that lone No. 8 seed to advance was North Carolina which just so happened to make it all the way to the national championship.

It should come as no surprise that the 8 vs. 9 matchup is more competitive than any other matchup in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round. However, a bit of a surprise is the overall record in this matchup since 1985. The 9-seed leads the series with a record of 76-72 on the ML over the 8-seed. A slightly deeper dive reveals the 9-seed holds an 11-5 advantage on the ML over the last four years and in the last three tourneys, No. 9 seeds are 8-4 ATS vs. No. 8 seeds.

Thinking of betting the 8s or 9s to make a deep run in this year’s tourney? Remember that the winner of the 8 vs. 9 game has faced the No. 1 seed in their respective region 99% of the time. Seven times in the history of the NCAA Tournament has an 8-seed reached the Final Four (most recently, UNC in 2022). Twice has a No. 9 seed reached the Final Four (most recently, Wichita State in 2013).

Jay Croucher (@croucherJD), Drew Dinsick (@whale_capper) and Vaughn Dalzell (@VmoneySports) broke down the Tournament from a variety of angles including a look at each 8 vs. 9 matchup.

Betting the NCAA Tournament

Here are the 8 vs. 9 matchups in each region in 2023:

South Region: No. 8 Maryland Terrapins vs. #9 West Virginia Mountaineers -2 O/U: 137.5

“Maryland is 2-11 in their last road or neutral site games,” said Dalzell. “West Virginia (is) very underrated in my opinion. Give me the Mountaineers who opened as a pick ‘em and are now 2 point favorite.”

East Region: No. 8 Memphis Tigers -2 vs. #9 Florida Atlantic Owls O/U: 152.5

Dinsick expects offense in this one.

“They (Memphis) do struggle on the defensive glass. Florida Atlantic also struggles on the defensive glass. I expect lots of second chance points…I do think Memphis goes through.”

(Read More: Which No. 1 seed has the easiest path?)

NCAA Tournament Midwest Region: No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. #9 Auburn Tigers -1 O/U: 152

Dinsick likes Auburn but is eyeing the Total as well.

“This should be in the 155 range. Iowa has woeful defensive efficiency. Auburn is going to feast.”

(Read More: Betting the 12-seeds vs. 5-seeds)

NCAA Tournament West Region: No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks -2.5 vs. #9 Illinois Fighting Illini O/U: 143.5

“Arkansas…they are the more athletic team, the deeper team, and the more talented team,” said Dalzell. “Illinois is a team that has question marks all around.”

NCAA Tournament Best Bets

Its unclear whether Dalzell likes Auburn because the Tigers are playing well or more so because the Iowa Hawkeyes play zero defense, but he is grabbing the Tigers in this matchup.

“Iowa is ranked 303rd in 2-point defense over the last two weeks. Auburn scores 55% closer to 58% of their points from 2-point range. They should have no problem.”

Dinsick is siding with the Big 10 in the Maryland vs. West Virginia matchup.

“Over the last month this is a team (Maryland) that is shooting the ball especially well. I think that can be a distinguishing factor.

You can find more Brackets and Betting videos on the NBC Sports YouTube page as well as on Bet the EDGE weekdays wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Enjoy the games and enjoy the sweat.