NCAA Sweet 16 odds preview: Alabama favored in upset-riddled South Region

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Alabama coach Nate Oats reacts after a score during the second half of the team's second-round college basketball game against Maryland in the men's NCAA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament has seen its share of upsets, and some of the most notable have occurred in the tournament’s South Region.

However, the national championship favorite remains No. 1-seeded Alabama, who’s the only top-four seed in the South Region to have made it to the Sweet 16, as the Crimson Tide will be joined No. 5 San Diego State, No. 6 Creighton and No. 15 Princeton.

Alabama is a -140 chalk favorite to win the South at FanDuel Sportsbook, followed by Creighton at +175, San Diego State at +650 and Princeton at a long +2000.

Here’s how the matchups stack up, followed by a regional winner pick:

Princeton Tigers vs. Creighton Blue Jays

Time: 6:30 p.m. Friday

TV: TBS

Point spread: Creighton -9.5

Money line: Creighton -580, Princeton +420

Over/under: 139.5

Analysis: Princeton’s had an impressive Cinderella run, as it was able to sneak past No. 2 Arizona and follow that up with a commanding win over No. 7 Missouri. But the Tigers might finally meet their match during the Sweet 16 considering how strong Creighton has looked. Creighton’s been scoring points at an elite clip and is one of the eight most efficient teams left in the tournament according to KenPom, so Princeton’s tough defense likely won’t be enough to slow down Creighton’s potent offense.

Prediction: Creighton 68, Princeton 52

San Diego State Aztecs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Time: 9 p.m. Friday

TV: TBS

Point spread: Alabama -7.5

Money line: Alabama -330, San Diego State +265

Over/under: 137.5

Analysis: Alabama’s first-round matchup was a cakewalk, but they followed that up with a dominant second-round victory over a more respectable opponent in No. 8 Maryland. San Diego State nearly got bounced in the opening round against No. 12 Charleston, but the Aztecs head into the Sweet 16 with momentum after steamrolling No. 13 Furman. It likely won’t matter against a loaded Alabama team that saw star freshman Brandon Miller return to full health in its second-round win.

Pick: Alabama 70, San Diego State 58

Odds to make the Final Four

Alabama -145

Creighton +175

San Diego State +650

Princeton +2000

Pick to win the South: Alabama

It appears that the South Region final will be between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Creighton, and while it’s tempting to go with the underdog considering how fun Creighton’s been to watch as a dangerous scoring team, this Alabama team appears to be a step above the rest of the field. Creighton will likely give the Crimson Tide some trouble, but Alabama’s elite combination of being able to score points in bunches and shut down opponents with their defense gives us no choice but to rock the chalk.

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