Early NCAA Tournament Games, NBA Basketball Highlight …

The anticipation is nearly palpable this week as the 2012 NCAA Tournament teases its way into the forefront of the sports world, and with tomorrow’s true start of the Round of 64 competition, today will be the final lull in college basketball action before the doors are blown wide open and the brackets start to play out. I hope you’ve got your brackets filled out already for what is certain to be another exciting and wild tournament ahead, and are getting prepared just as I am for the run of 16 games set for tomorrow and Friday, which are sure to generate some amazing games and some exciting upset finishes the way the tournament always does. While we’re still on hold for another 24 hours until the kick-off of the Big Dance, there’s still plenty of great sports betting options to be had today, as a couple of 1st round games play out with 4 teams fighting to solidify their place amongst the field of 64, not to mention some exciting continuing action in NBA Basketball, which features another handful of 12 games on Wednesday, and of course another dose of NHL Hockey, which is quickly gearing up towards another exciting playoff session. For today’s options for online sports betting, travel with me down to the TopBet Sportsbook, one of the top sports betting websites reviewed here. You can always find exactly what you’re looking for at TopBet’s well laid-out website, which features quick and easy access to a plethora of sports betting options on a daily basis.

Sticking with the budding games in the NCAA tournament 1st round today, we have to get a shot in at the two games set up between a pair of 16 seeds and a pair of 12s, as first Vermont and Lamar duke it out in Dayton, Ohio, followed by a very intriguing match-up between California and South Florida, which features two underperforming teams from the Big East and Pac-12 respectively. The first match-up features a very interesting tangle of two teams that are both streaking into the tournament picture. Lamar, (in)famous for head coach Pat Knight’s public outcry against his players back on February 22nd (calling them the worst group of seniors he’d ever been around), have gone from total disarray to credible threat with 4 seniors averaging better than 9.1 points/game and have won all of their games (6) since coach Knight’s spat. On the other hand, Vermont will seek just its second tournament victory despite making an appearance in the tourney for the fifth time. The Catamounts don’t score a ton but they don’t give up many points either, allowing just 60.5 points a game to opposing offenses. This match-up should be a close one, but I’m going with Lamar with better transition offense, better rebounding, and a tighter unit that has come together well and responded to coach Knight’s berating

Onto the second match-up on the evening, look out for a fantastic clash as East meets West with the California Golden Bears squaring off against the USF Bulls. While Cal was at the start of the season ranked amongst the Top 25, their inability to deal with quality teams has them resolved to a position as the epitome of the very-weak Pac-12 this season; talented, but underperforming across the board. Cal plays good defense, and can generate strong offensive numbers behind Pac-12 Player of the Year Jorge Guiterrez, and will be tested by a very stingy South Florida defense that allows less than 57 points per contest. While South Florida doesn’t score much, ranking 328th out of 345 NCAA D-I teams this year at 59.2 points/game, they haven’t allowed more than 58 points to an opposing offense since February 22nd, a stretch of 7 games, and have contained 16 teams to under to the 60 point mark this season. That will make an interesting challenge for Cal, which does shoot the ball very well at 47.9 percent from the floor on the season, and should mean that this game will be close and very gritty all the way down to the wire. While I for one am not impressed by the Bears’ form coming into tonight’s match-up (losers of 3 of their last 4), they have solid scoring depth that will be critical against a smothering defense, and a reasonably good defense of their own that should be able to manage the Bulls’ anemic offense, which has not one single player scoring in double digits on the season. I’ll take Cal to cover the 3 points against the spread at TopBet sportsbook today, and also push for the underside of the total points, set at a low 115.5, as I fully expect this to be a painfully slow and grinding war of attrition tonight.

Moving along to action in the professional leagues tonight for online sportsbook bets, turn to the NBA basketball schedule first and foremost, as a number of quality match-ups play out on Wednesday night. After seeing Miami fail to overcome Orlando in overtime last night, the Heat will get a brutal back-to-back road meeting with the Chicago Bulls at the United Center this evening, which should definitely make for one of the top games available for online sportsbook wagers. Ahead of the trade deadline tomorrow, this match-up becomes intriguing especially for Chicago, which has been trying to acquire a true big man for some time now, making attempts at the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, and the biggest free-agent prize, Orlando’s Dwight Howard. The Heat have beaten the Bulls six straight times in this series, but playing one night after a tough overtime showdown with Orlando (note, their second straight overtime game), Miami could find the Bulls having an advantage in tonight’s game with extra rest and coming in red-hot winning 9 of their last 10 games. Chicago also could get big-man Luol Deng back from a wrist injury, which would be a big boost to the team, and for bets on tonight’s game I’m going with the Bulls to cover the 2.5 points as favorites. Catch a number of other great match-ups in store for NBA hoops this evening as the Orlando Magic battle the San Antonio Spurs in what could possibly be Dwight Howard’s last stand in a Magic jersey, look out for a scrappy battle between the Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers, and expect a great contest out of the pairing between the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers.

With more sports betting options extending into the exciting NHL Hockey calendar, which finds most teams with 12 or less games remaining on the regular season schedule, jump into the fast on-ice action this evening at TopBet with 6 contests set up for betting on sports. A big West Coast battle with playoff implications gets underway as the Phoenix Coyotes head north to battle the Vancouver Canucks, with the Coyotes holding a one point advantage over the 4 teams sitting tied for 8th place in the Western Conference playoff picture. Also in that mix are the Colorado Avalanche, who will play a tough game in Buffalo against the Sabres, as both teams have won 7 times in their last 10 games. Catch another good showdown on the West Coast as the fading Anaheim Ducks look to spoil the Detroit Red Wings’ trip west, trying to hand them back-to-back losses after Detroit’s 5-2 beating at Los Angeles. For midweek wagers at TopBet Sportsbook, find these great match-ups and more with a few clicks of a mouse button or tap of a touch screen, and as always we here at CR wish you the best of luck no matter what type of wagers on whatever sport you choose to jump into!

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