Elite Eight plays for Creighton-SDSU and Miami-Texas: Best Bets for March 26

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San Diego State's Miles Byrd (21) and Darrion Trammell (12) celebrate a win over Alabamaa in the second half of a Sweet 16 round college basketball game in the South Regional of the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 24, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. San Diego State won 71-64. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Sunday, March 26:

TOP PLAY

The play: NCAA tournament: San Diego State money line over Creighton

The odds: +114

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 2:20 p.m. (CBS)

Our take: San Diego State is flying high after knocking the No. 1 overall seed, Alabama, out of the tournament in the Sweet 16. Even though the Mountain West champion has beaten Charleston, Furman and the Crimson Tide en route to the Elite Eight, perhaps more impressively is the fact that it has kept each of its tournament opponents to under 65 points. The Aztecs haven’t given up more than that since Boise State put 66 on the scoreboard on February 28 — this is where they have the edge.

Creighton is one of the best offensive teams in the country. The Bluejays have outlasted opponents throughout the tournament with their high offensive efficiency. While they’ve averaged an astonishing 81 points per game against the likes of NC State, Baylor and Princeton, they’ve also given up over 71 points per game. Creighton’s been lackluster defensively and San Diego State could expose that flaw in their Elite Eight matchup.

The Aztecs will slow the game down and make the Bluejays work for every basket. A slower pace of play and defensive battle favors San Diego State — which is No. 4 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom — so it’s hard to understand why the No. 5 seed is the underdog.

I won’t question it though. I’m just going to sit here and drink the plus juice while I watch the Aztecs punch their ticket to Texas for the Final Four.

‘HORNS ROLL HURRICANES EN ROUTE TO HOUSTON?

The play: NCAA tournament: Texas -3.5 vs. Miami

The odds: -118

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 5:05 p.m. (CBS)

Our take: Every NCAA Tournament champion since 2002, except for one (2014 Connecticut), has shared a single trait. When you add up KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency metrics, the sum of each has added up to a number less than 50 — again, UConn being the exception.

This became a widely known fact this year across social media as college basketball fans filled out their brackets. People played it safe this season and picked their tournament champions from the aforementioned group of schools rated highly by KenPom. One such team was the Texas Longhorns. I’ll level with you, the Longhorns were my pick, and they’ve more than justified my confidence in them thus far in the tournament.

Texas beat the brakes off Xavier in the Sweet 16. Miami may be the popular pick because the Hurricanes were the ones to slay the beast that was the Houston Cougars, but they have plenty of flaws. These weaknesses — which are mostly defensive — were exposed in the last month by Florida State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Duke and, arguably, Drake. The Longhorns will surely be foaming at the mouth as they await their chance.

Texas is simply too well-rounded to not rout Miami.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Saturday’s best bets

NCAA tournament: UConn-Gonzaga UNDER 153½ (WON)

NCAA tournament: Florida Atlantic money line over Kansas State (WON)

Saturday’s profit/loss: 2-0

Total for the week: 8-4

Total for March: 28-23

Total for 2023: 60-63

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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