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March Madness Elite 8 Best Bets: Purdue vs Tennessee, NC State vs Duke, UConn vs Illinois, Clemson vs Bama

Impressed with Alabama's defensive ability vs. UNC
Clark Kellogg joins Dan Patrick to discuss if UConn has any vulnerability ahead of a matchup with Illinois, Alabama's defense holding UNC, Zach Edey's NBA Draft outlook as Player of the Year, and more.

Vaughn Dalzell breaks down his Elite 8 picks in the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee vs Purdue (-3): O/U 147.5

Purdue is two games away from making the run they expected last year but has to go through the Tennessee Vols for a Final Four appearance.

Tennessee will need to force turnovers to win this game and while they have the edge (73rd vs 342nd), the Vols only totaled five steals and forced nine turnovers against Creighton after five steals and 17 total turnovers for Texas in the second round.

The Boilermakers are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and shoot at an NCAA-best 41% from three. The Vols are 70th and 135th in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, so there is a significant edge for Purdue and the 7-foot-4 Zach Edey.

Tennessee went 3-of-25 (12%) from three against Texas and Purdue limited Gonzaga’s offense to 68 points on seven free-throw attempts and 6-of-19 from three (31.6%).

I believe Purdue is the all-around better team and has grown tremendously since last season. As long as the Boilermakers don’t turn the ball over or have a stinker from three, I think they win and cover.

I played Purdue -3 at -112 odds on DraftKings and also played the -3.5 at -105 odds on another book.

Pick: Purdue -3 (1u)

NC State vs Duke (-7.5): O/U 142.5

We have five teams ranked in the top 12 left in the NCAA tournament field and one team ranked 49th per Kenpom. That team is the NC State Wolfpack.

On paper and by models, Duke should win by nine or more points giving value on the Blue Devils spread, but after they beat Houston in a grind, I am not sure I am willing to take Duke to win by a wide margin.

The Cougars were banged up and missing multiple players, especially big men. NC State has the biggest man, D.J. Burns who should cause issues for Duke (37 points and 8 rebounds vs Duke).

These teams met twice this year and Duke won by 15 at NC State, pulling away in the second half, but lost in the ACC Tournament by five points.

NC State held Marquette to 4-of-31 from three (12.9%) after Oakland (14-of-35, 4.3%) and Texas Tech (7-of-31, 22.6%) went below their season averages as well.

Duke went 14-of-50 (28%) from three in the two meetings with NC State, so stopping three and getting D.J. Burns going are the two keys for the Wolfpack.

I played NC State at +7.5 at -115 odds on DraftKings and the ML at +245. I’d go down to +6 and +200 on the ML.

Pick: NC State +7.5 (1u), NC State ML (0.5u)

Illinois vs UConn (-8.5): O/U 155.5

UConn’s bracket of death hasn’t appeared as deadly, but they still have one more test and that’s Terrance Shanon and the Illinois Fighting Illini.

This should be a fast-paced game with Illinois’ defense providing a good matchup for the Huskies to get off to a quick start.

The Huskies have scored 52, 40, and 40 first-half points in all three tournament games this season and Illinois has the style of play for that to continue.

Illinois plays the 69th-quickest tempo in the country and the 56th-quickest on defense. The Illini have scored 85, 89, and 73 points in their three tournament games with Iowa State’s stellar defense keeping them under 80 points.

However, no one outside of Morehead State (38) gave Illinois a competitive offensive game in the first half. Enter, UConn.

I played the Huskies Team Total Over 39.5 at -105 odds and would play the 38.5 for -125 odds. I also lean toward the UConn spread of -8.5 as they have covered nine straight NCAA tournament games.

I also played UConn to win the National Championship at -105 odds on DraftKings for 2 units. I love their chances to go back-to-back even more with Houston out.

Pick: UConn 1H Team Total Over 39.5 (1u)

Clemson vs Alabama (-3.5): O/U 164.5

Clemson held Arizona (5/28), Baylor (6/24), and New Mexico (3/23) to 14-of-75 from three (18.6%) in the NCAA Tournament, which makes this Elite 8 matchup with Alabama that more interesting.

Alabama is a top-five team when it comes to possessions per game, offensive tempo, and offensive efficiency. On the year, Alabama shoots 36.8% from deep (25th) and turned up for 42.3% from deep against North Carolina (11/26) after everyone outside of Mark Sears went 3-of-20 versus Michigan State.

If Clemson defends the perimeter, they can beat Alabama. Arizona has similar numbers to Alabama in terms of tempo, efficiency, and three-point marks, so I skipped the points and took Clemson on the ML at +140 odds. I’d go down to +120.

No one expected Clemson to get here, including me, but I expect we see at least one huge underdog in the Final 4, whether that’s Clemson or NC State.

Pick: Clemson ML (1u)

Season Record: 90-97 (48.1%) -12.03u

CBB Futures In My Pocket:

2u: UConn to win the National Championship (-105)

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