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“Market Madness” Elite 8: West & South Divisions

As the NCAA March Madness continues, the "Halftime Report" is playing through its own "Market Madness" stock tournament.

On Friday the experts on the desk kicked off the contest in our "Elite 8" by voting on the first two divisions: West & South; containing Bank of America, Home Depot, Nike, and Alphabet.

Our first matchup continued with a seemingly inevitable battle between Home Depot and Bank of America – with our panel unanimously choosing to play the housing trade.


Match-up 1

"Housing is definitely where it's at," Pete Najarian, Najarian Family Advisors, said. "You know it, I know it, everyone knows it – gotta' go with Home Depot here."

Sarat Sethi, Managing Partner at Douglas C. Lane, saw Home Depot as a clear way to benefit from current macroeconomic conditions.

"It's a great way to play the housing market and the consumer in this low interest rate environment," he said.

And in terms of recent price action, Home Depot also has the edge over Bank of America, up 2% and down 19% respectively.

During the day's second matchup, between Nike and Alphabet, our panel made a first in this year's competition – voting the day's winners forward in clean sweeps.


Match-up 2

Alphabet made its way quickly through its bout with fellow West division rival Nike.

"Alphabet still has a long way to go up, lots of potential there," Sethi said, as he pointed to benefits resulting from the company's new fiscal management in hiring CFO Ruth Porat.

Pete Najarian took things to a more stock-specific playing field; seeing an attractive entry point.

"Alphabet is cheap, the valuation is really attractive and they're the most dominant company within their core business," Najarian said, "and they have YouTube, it's great."

When examining recent stock performance, these two competitors were more evenly matched than in our experts' voting round, with each down nearly 1% on the year.

Here are the official standings as we close out our "Sweet 16".