The 2024 NCAA Tournament rolls on with a pair of Elite Eight matchups on Saturday night. We have Clemson vs. Alabama in one game and Illinois vs. UConn in the other as we lock in two Final Four teams. Check out these Elite 8 predictions for March Madness as you enjoy the Saturday night games. 




All of these college basketball betting odds and lines are accurate as of this writing but be sure to shop around at different sportsbooks. Let’s now dive into my NCAA Tournament picks for Saturday, March 30th.

Elite 8 Predictions & March Madness Best Bets: Saturday, 3/30

#6 Clemson vs. #4 Alabama Prediction: Tigers +3 (-115 at DraftKings)

The Elite Eight matchup in the West region is not one many experts predicted at the start of the NCAA Tournament. No. 4 seed Alabama will take on No. 6 seed Clemson with a Final Four berth on the line. This is actually a rematch from earlier in the season when Clemson went on the road and beat Alabama, 85-77, back in November. Will we see a similar outcome for the Tigers or will the Crimson Tide exact revenge? Let’s dive in. 

Alabama survived a high-scoring thriller against North Carolina in the Sweet 16 with a narrow 89-87 victory. The Tide pulled the win out after facing an eight-point halftime deficit and trailing by five with less than four minutes to go. 

Meanwhile, Clemson’s surprising bracket success continues after it upset Arizona in the Sweet 16. This is now three straight Tournament games where the Tigers have won despite being the betting underdog going in. 

Clemson’s defense has been especially impressive during this run, holding some potent offenses notably below their scoring averages. In the first round, New Mexico mustered just 56 points despite averaging 80.7 PPG this season. In the Round of 32, Baylor put up 64 points after scoring 80.4 PPG this year. Then in the Sweet 16, Arizona had only 72 points after averaging 87.1 PPG. For those keeping track, the Tigers held each of those three offenses to at least 15 points below their season-long averages. 




Clemson’s three-point defense, in particular, has been stellar this Tournament. The Tigers held Arizona to 18% three-point shooting in the Sweet 16, Baylor to 25%, and New Mexico to 13%. Maybe the regression monster is bound to catch up with them. Still, Clemson had an above-average three-point defense during the regular season and uses its length at every position to contest perimeter shots and get teams out of their rhythm. It’s happened in each of these first three games as the Tigers also force opposing teams to play at their own slower pace. 

As dangerous and high-scoring as the Alabama offense can be, it’s also volatile. When talking about three-point shooting, it’s a big factor for Bama. When the Tide are hitting threes, they can beat anyone – like when they shot 42% from deep vs. UNC. If they aren’t making those threes, the offense can go extremely cold and find themselves in a hole. It happened vs. Grand Canyon when Bama shot just 25% from three and nearly got upset. 

The Clemson offense, meanwhile, is very balanced and doesn’t rely on 1-2 guys or one avenue of scoring too heavily. PJ Hall and Ian Schieffelin play well off each other in the frontcourt while Chase Hunter and Joe Girard do the same in the backcourt. Hunter, especially, has turned it on this postseason with 21, 20, and 18 points in the first three games. 

In contrast, the Alabama defense continues to be a major worry and is very inconsistent. It almost cost the Tide against UNC by giving up 87 points. Clemson has the firepower across the board to exploit the Bama defensive weaknesses – especially with how hot they’re playing.

As an underdog this season, Clemson is 9-1 ATS and 7-3 SU now. That includes winning outright as dogs in the first three games of this Tournament run. Meanwhile, Alabama is just 4-11-1 ATS as favorites of five points or fewer and/or as underdogs this year. That does include the past two wins vs. North Carolina and Grand Canyon. Still, the Tide have underperformed against better competition all year at 3-10 SU and 2-10-1 ATS vs. top-30 KenPom teams like Clemson (19th). 

Let’s take Clemson to cover this spread as underdogs. You may also want to sprinkle some on the moneyline to win it outright.




#3 Illinois vs. #1 UConn Prediction: Huskies -8.5 (-110 at FanDuel)

Our other Elite Eight matchup on Saturday features the reigning champs against one of the hottest teams in the sport. No. 1 seed UConn is a sizable favorite over No. 3 seed Illinois. After spending a lot of time on Clemson vs. Alabama, this pick is a simple one. 

We’re taking UConn and not thinking twice about it. Just like last year en route to the national title, the Huskies are rolling right now. They boast the top-ranked offense in college basketball and the 6th-best defense, per KenPom. 

UConn just smashed San Diego State by 30 points in the Sweet 16, which followed up a 17-point win over Northwestern and a 39-point win over Stetson in the first two rounds. They covered as double-digit favorites in all three victories and are now 12-2 ATS in the past 14 games. 




This team is no fluke and it’s proving it with convincing wins nearly every time out – even against good opponents. This current run is very similar to what UConn did last year in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies went 6-0 ATS in the bracket with all six wins coming by double digits. So far, they are following suit and Illinois is just the next team in their path.

Illinois definitely qualifies as a tougher matchup as the Big Ten conference tournament champs and a top-10 caliber team. Still, the Illini’s path deserves a bit of context.

They beat No. 14 seed Morehead State in the first round comfortably, which was expected as an 11-point favorite. Then the Illini were gifted a second-round matchup vs. No. 11 seed Duquesne and took care of business. Give them credit for the Sweet 16 win vs. Iowa State on Thursday. Yet, Iowa State went through a dry spell offensively in the first half that ultimately cost them despite making it close in the final minutes. 

Illinois also may be too reliant on Terrence Shannon Jr. to sustain their offensive success. Shannon has been ridiculous with 26, 30, and 29 points in the first three Tournament games and averaging 31.2 PPG over the past six games in postseason play. 

UConn has the defensive ability, size, and perimeter defenders to slow Shannon down and limit his coring. If Illinois isn’t getting 25+ points from him, it could be a long night for the Illini – as everyone is finding out the hard way against UConn these days.