It’s tough to find many people doubting Duke.

The Blue Devils steamrolled through the first two rounds and now get a Syracuse team unable to score. As far as balance goes, Duke holds an edge on every team remaining in the NCAA tournament. Will that translate into a trip to the Final Four? They still likely have one major challenge ahead in the Midwest region.

Here’s the best bets for the Sweet 16 and beyond in the 2018 NCAA tournament’s Midwest region.

The Duke Blue Devils should be the favorite in the Midwest region. Flickr

Who’s going to the Final Four?

Duke Blue Devils

So I’m not going out on a limb. It’s hard to argue with Duke’s game action in the first weekend.

The Blue Devils dominated their way through the first two rounds and beat a pretty good Rhode Island team in the second round. Most importantly, this not new. The Blue Devils have been one of the most talented teams in the country throughout the season. The major problem is that their youth has created some road bumps along the way.

When they’re playing at this kind of level, the only team able to compete with Duke is Villanova. And Duke won’t face the Wildcats until the Final Four.

The Blue Devils create matchup problems on both ends, so they offer the best bet to make it to the Final Four.

Sweet 16 odds

Clemson (+5) vs. Kansas

If Donte Grantham was suiting up for Clemson, I would take the Tigers with the moneyline. Instead, I’ll side with a close game that the Jayhawks are more likely to win.

The Tigers are really good. They’ve shown that versatility in the first two rounds. The Tigers have been a strong defensive team throughout the season. However, in the NCAA tournament, they’ve shown just as much on the offensive end.

That should create some danger for the Jayhawks.

Even though I like Clemson’s ability to keep this close, I can’t ignore Kansas’ home-court advantage. Pretty much everybody from Kansas and Missouri will be in Omaha, Nebraska, this week, so there will be plenty of noise in favor of Kansas.

That will make a difference, along with the Jayhawks’ ability to score in bunches. The talent isn’t that far off, so I’m anticipating this will be close. But I’m not bold enough to pick Clemson straight up; just stick with them to cover. — Go Against The Chalk with Clemson

Syracuse vs. Duke (-11.5)

The Blue Devils know the Orange, so that suddenly vaunted zone defense won’t confuse the Blue Devils.

The balance for Duke is ridiculous. The Blue Devils are a top-five offense and a top-25 defense in terms of efficiency. The Orange rank 229th in offensive efficiency. It’s amazing that Syracuse made it this far without the ability to score. But here we are.

Syracuse won’t be able to score with Duke. And Duke won’t go as cold as Michigan State or TCU did in the first two rounds against the Orange. The only item that should worry Duke is that Kansas will have a major home-court edge in the Elite Eight, if the Jayhawks make it that far.

Otherwise, the Sweet 16 round should be a breeze. — Go Chalk with Duke


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