Sweet 16 Betting Roundup

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The next chapter in the deepening rivalry between UCLA and Kentucky gets written on Friday when the Bruins take on the Wildcats in the Sweet 16 as narrow 1-point favorites.

UCLA escaped with a 97-92 victory as 11-point underdogs when these two teams met earlier this season, lifting it to 3-1 straight up in its past four dates with Kentucky ahead of Friday night’s matchup at FedExForum in Memphis.

The Bruins claimed the South Region’s No. 3 seed after closing out the regular season on a 10-1 SU run, followed by tournament-opening victories over Kent State and Cincinnati. But since covering in 10 of its first 12 outings this season, UCLA is a dismal 7-16 against the spread, covering in consecutive contests on just one occasion.

SU winners in 13 straight, No. 2 Kentucky advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years with a narrow 65-62 win over No. 10 Wichita State as 3-point favorites. But like UCLA, the Wildcats have been an unreliable bet, going 6-13-2 ATS in their past 21 games.

Kentucky is also winless SU and ATS in two contests as an underdog this season, and 5-12 SU and 7-9-1 ATS in its past 17.

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Rounding Out the Friday Madness Slate

Earlier on Friday, top-seeded North Carolina battles No. 4 Butler as 7-point favorites. The Tar Heels were forced to fend off a second-half rally in their Round of 32 clash with No. 8 Arkansas before coming back to claim a 72-65 win as 11.5-point chalk, and have failed to cover in four of their past six outings.

Conversely, the Bulldogs easily covered in a 74-65 victory over No. 12 Middle Tennessee to remain unbeaten ATS in six straight tournament matchups. Butler has also claimed outright wins in their past two Sweet 16 appearances, while covering in each of their past three.

Over in the East Region, No. 7 South Carolina makes its Sweet 16 debut on Friday, taking on No. 3 Baylor as 4.0-point underdogs, while No. 4 Florida battles No. 8 Wisconsin as 1.5-point chalk.

The Gamecocks pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament on Sunday by knocking off No. 2 Duke 88-81 as 6.5-point underdogs, but have dropped three straight to the Bears, who are 5-1 SU in their past six overall as favorites.

The Badgers are riding high after eliminating the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats 65-62 in the Round of 32, but are winless SU in three straight as Sweet 16 underdogs. The Gators aim to keep their Sweet 16 winning streak alive with an eighth straight SU win.