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OK, so we went three of four on the Sweet 16 round picks with Tennessee the only team to let us down in their somewhat surprising loss to FAU. Not only did the Owls cover the 5.5-point spread, but they advanced to the Elite Eight after beating the Vols by seven points.

Alabama’s tournament also came to a bitterly disappointing end, even though most people viewed the Tide as championship favorites heading into the Sweet 16. San Diego State did what it has done all season in holding ’Bama on the defensive end and limiting one of the nation’s best-scoring teams to just 64 points.

We have four matchups to consider before the Elite Eight kicks off, as I present my best NCAAB picks against the spread. Will we see more upsets on the way to the Final Four? With all the No. 1 seeds now eliminated, who is the new favorite to win this 2023 edition of March Madness?

2023 NCAA Tournament – March Madness Best Bets Today: Elite 8 picks against the spread

Kansas State vs Florida Atlantic Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under – Elite Eight Betting Lines 3/25

Moneyline: Kansas State -135, Florida Atlantic +115
Spread: Kansas State -1.5, Florida Atlantic +1.5
Total: Over/Under 144.5

Kansas State vs Florida Atlantic Prediction and Pick

Florida Atlantic is now the Cinderella story of this year's tournament. The ninth-seeded Owls enter the Elite Eight round as the lowest-ranked surviving team. They are great defensively and really tightened up against Tennessee in allowing the Vols to score just 55 points. 

FAU is very well-balanced offensively and can strike on the fast break. Their win over Tennessee certainly deserves its props, but the Vols were without starting point guard Zakai Zeigler for the tournament, and Kansas State has one of the best PGs at the competition this year.

Markquis Nowell had one of this year’s best March Madness performances in the Wildcats’ 98-93 OT win over Michigan State. The K-State guard scored 20 points and a whopping 19 assists in that game, running the point as well as anybody I’ve seen so far this year. The Wildcats had six players score at least 10 points, including high-percentage efficient scoring off the bench from both David N’Guessan and Ismael Massoud, who combined for 26 points and 10-for-13 shooting.

I have been impressed by FAU, but I don’t think they’re a match for Kansas State. Nowell poses a problem, and his ability to run the game and find open scorers will be too much for the Owls’ defense here. The Wildcats might not score almost 100 points again, but it will be enough to cover and advance in one of my preferred college basketball picks against the spread this weekend.

The Pick: Kansas State -1.5 (-115)

UConn vs Gonzaga Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under – Elite Eight Betting Lines 3/25

Moneyline: Connecticut -135, Gonzaga +115
Spread: Connecticut -2.5, Gonzaga +2.5
Total: Over/Under 153.5

UConn vs Gonzaga Prediction and Pick

Gonzaga built up a 10-point lead against UCLA in the second half of their Sweet 16 matchup, only to allow the Bruins back into it with less than a minute remaining. The Bruins broke down the lead by cutting inside for multiple scores, including a costly layup-and-one with 45 seconds to play.

UCLA regained the lead with 12 seconds to go before Gonzaga took the basketball down the court and pitched it back to Julian Strawther, who sank a deep 3-pointer that ultimately won the game. 

Senior Drew Timme covered for Strawther in the first half before the guard found his stroke in the second, scoring 14 of his 16 points over the game’s final 20 minutes. Timme finished with a hefty 36-point scoring night that included 13 rebounds and four assists. The Bruins didn’t have an answer for him for the majority of the Sweet 16 game, and the question now is whether UConn can contain him while keeping the Zags guards quiet, too.

UConn strolled past Arkansas in its Sweet 16 game, winning 88-65. No team the Huskies have faced so far at the tournament has had an answer for them, as UConn has a combined winning margin of 62 points through its first three games.

The Huskies are one of the best-looking teams in the country right now, and at this point in the tournament, they look like one of the most capable to win it all. The Zags will need to keep forward Adama Sanogo from dominating inside if they want to advance, but UConn’s guards can really hurt opponents, too, and the Huskies have a deeper bench.

Gonzaga poses a different threat level, of course, but I feel that UConn could prove to be too much here. They’re one of the nation’s best teams in rebounding and Sanogo is what UCLA was missing against Timme. The Huskies are now my pick to win it all.

The Pick: Connecticut -2.5 (-105)

Miami vs Texas Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under – Elite 8 Betting Lines 3/26

Moneyline: Miami Hurricanes +150, Texas Longhorns -187 
Spread: Miami +4.5, Texas -4.5
Total: Over/Under 149.5

Miami vs Texas Prediction and Pick 

Texas put on a strong performance against Xavier and coasted through the Sweet 16 round into the Elite Eight. The Longhorns led 42-25 at the half and controlled the game the rest of the way. 

The Longhorns played most of the Xavier game without center Dylan Disu, who is currently listed as day-to-day with a foot injury. Disu started the game, but he exited after just two minutes and was ruled out for the remainder. The Texas center was averaging 22.5 points through his first two games at the tournament.

The Longhorns’ backcourt rallied. Three guards scored at least 16 points, and the team had an efficient night from 3-point range. The Texas starting five went 6-for-7 from deep, and Tyrese Hunter was 3-for-3 from behind the arc for a team-high 19 points.

The Miami Hurricanes picked apart one of the country’s best defenses in sending No. 1 seed Houston home from the Sweet 16. The ’Canes rallied in the second half to pull away from the Cougars, scoring 89 points against a team that had frustrated opposing offenses all season.

Miami looked very good with its multifaceted offense led by Nijel Pack’s big night from deep. Pack shot 7-for-10 from 3-point range and led his team in scoring with 26 points. Are the Hurricanes a great pick again this weekend against the spread?

Yes, they are. The blowout victory over Houston certainly got everyone’s attention going into the Elite Eight, as all four No. 1-seeded teams are now out of the tournament. I have Miami covering the spread here with a strong chance to advance again if the Hurricanes can replicate their Sweet 16 scoring efficiency.

The Pick: Miami +4.5 (-115) 

San Diego State vs Creighton Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under – Elite 8 Betting Lines 3/26Moneyline: San Diego State +105, Creighton -110
Spread: San Diego State +1.5, Creighton -1.5
Total: Over/Under 133.5

San Diego State vs Creighton Prediction and Pick

The Aztecs went into the Sweet 16 as a 5.5-point underdog against what is arguably the best team in the nation. Despite that, San Diego State beat Alabama by seven points to butcher the NCAA experts’ picks against the spread by a wide margin. The Aztecs now turn their attention to the Creighton Bluejays in the Elite Eight.

Even more impressive than the victory itself was the second-half rally that brought San Diego State back into the game after the Aztecs had seemingly given up control. Alabama went out in front by nine points, but the Aztecs rallied for a 12-0 run that kept the Tide from scoring for more than four minutes of the half.

In my Sweet 16 round post, I said Alabama forward Brandon Miller’s performance would be key to the Tide advancing. He finished 3-for-19 in shooting and went 1-for-10 from 3-point range with Aztec players in his face all night long.

San Diego State’s Elite Eight opponent, Creighton, took care of business against Princeton, this year's Cinderella story. Creighton was efficient in scoring against the Tigers. Ryan Kalkbrenner shot 9-for-12 inside, while senior guard Baylor Scheierman went 8-for-11 from the floor and 5-for-7 from behind the arc.

The Aztecs don’t have the shooting power to match an 85-plus point performance like Creighton’s Sweet 16 showing. That’s not their game. They will try to eliminate good looks and force the Bluejays into low-percentage shots while capitalizing on their own scoring opportunities. If they could do it against Alabama, why can’t they do it again here? The question is how long that defensive-entrapment game plan can last before somebody gets the better of it. Can Creighton shoot through it? 

I’m picking San Diego State again. Creighton shot a very impressive percentage to advance past Princeton, but cutting off open 3-pointer looks for the Bluejays guards could result in a very different Elite Eight outcome.

The Pick: San Diego State +1.5 (-110)

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