Your “Never Too Early” Odds for the 2016 NCAA …

    Williams
    Williams

    Roy Williams and his Tar Heels are the leading contenders to cut down the nets in 2016.

    The National Championship Trophy hasn’t even collected a speck of dust yet in the Duke University trophy case but already our friends at Bovada have graciously provided the odds for next year.

    Before I dissect a few of the teams listed below, w have to take into account a few things. First of all, Duke was listed at 16/1 prior to Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones declaring for the NBA Draft. That will most definitely change the odds on them in the coming weeks.

    On that topic in general, you have to remember that some players have yet to declare for the draft and will. There will also be a few who flirt with the draft process but ultimately they’ll decide to return to school.

    One final thought is coaching changes.The NBA regular season ended last night and what is likely to happen is that some of the coaches in Division I basketball will be enticed into taking jobs at the pro level. There is also still time for coaches to make lateral moves and join other college programs as well although most of that is now over.

    Alright, let’s talk about some of the top favorites.

    Odds to win the 2015-16 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

    North Carolina                   6/1

    Kentucky                             8/1

    Maryland                             12/1

    Virginia                                 12/1

    Duke                                     16/1

    You’ll notice in these top five favorites three of the five are teams out of the ACC. Factor in that Maryland is hardly removed from being in that conference and you’ve got yourself quite a monopoly. The Tar Heels are the leading contender simply because they didn’t get hurt as badly as the other teams in terms of early departures to the NBA. Kentucky lost seven and Duke has lost their big three freshmen from this season’s title team. Both teams will reload with top talent but whether you believe that talent can get them back to the Final Four or not is another story.

    Kansas                                  16/1

    Iowa State                          18/1

    Michigan State                  20/1

    The Jayhawks have won 11 straight Big 12 regular season titles which is pretty darn impressive any way you slice it. Iowa State (and Oklahoma) will challenge that streak. Tom Izzo’s Spartans will lose a few bodies but they will also bring in some solid talent as well. Always bank on MSU when March rolls around.

    Arizona                                 25/1

    Gonzaga                              25/1

    Indiana                                 25/1

    Oklahoma                           25/1

    Wright

    At some point, Jay Wright has to get his Wildcats back to a Final Four doesn't he?

    Villanova                              25/1

    The group here at 25/1 doesn’t put a whole lot of confidence in me. Arizona can’t seem to get over the hump and into the Final Four while teams like Oklahoma and Villanova have proven they can’t live up to lofty expectations. Tom Crean will be under the microscope big time in Bloomington. If his Hooisers don’t start well he could be in some trouble.

    Arkansas                              33/1

    Louisville                              33/1

    NC State                              33/1

    Notre Dame                       33/1

    Wisconsin                            33/1

    I love these teams at 33/1. They all made nice strides in recent years in the tournament and Louisville of course has a title under it’s belt from two seasons ago. Arkansas and NC State return good talent and the Irish and Badgers will have shoes to fill but should be able to do so with good recruiting classes.

    Baylor                                   40/1

    Butler                                    40/1

    Miami FL                              40/1

    Dayton                                 50/1

    Florida                                  50/1

    Florida State                       50/1

    LSU                                        50/1

    Michigan                              50/1

    Ohio State                           50/1

    SMU                                      50/1

    Texas                                    50/1

    Texas A&M                         50/1

    UCLA                                     50/1

    Wichita State                     50/1

    Utah                                      50/1

    Oregon                                 66/1

    Purdue                                 66/1

    Syracuse                              66/1

    VCU                                       66/1

    West Virginia                     66/1

    Xavier                                   66/1

    Northern Iowa                  66/1

    Cincinnati                            75/1

    Georgetown                      75/1

    Georgia                                75/1

    UConn                                  75/1

    California                             100/1

    Illinois                                   100/1

    Iowa                                      100/1

    Marquette                          100/1

    Minnesota                          100/1

    Missouri                               100/1

    Ole Miss                               100/1

    Pittsburgh                           100/1

    Providence                         100/1

    San Diego State                100/1

    St. John’s                             100/1

    Vanderbilt                           100/1

    Colorado                              150/1

    Colorado State                  150/1

    Kansas State                      150/1

    Stanford                              150/1

    Tennessee                          150/1

    Alabama                              200/1

    Arizona State                     200/1

    BYU                                        200/1

    Clemson                              200/1

    Creighton                            200/1

    George Washington       200/1

    Georgia Tech                     200/1

    Harvard                                200/1

    Memphis                             200/1

    Nebraska                             200/1

    New Mexico                      200/1

    Oklahoma State                200/1

    Seton Hall                            200/1

    St. Louis                               200/1

    UNLV                                    200/1

    Washington                        200/1

    Temple                                 200/1

    Boston College                  300/1

    DePaul                                  300/1

    LaSalle                                  300/1

    Penn State                          300/1

    Richmond                            300/1

    South Carolina                   300/1

    St. Joe’s                                300/1

    Texas Tech                          300/1

    UMass                                  300/1

    USC                                       300/1

    Virginia Tech                     300/1

    Wake Forest                      300/1

    Auburn                                300/1

    Murray State                     300/1

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    Duke, Wisconsin Meet for the Title Tonight

    Badgers, Blue Devils
    Badgers, Blue Devils

    Wisconsin and Duke meet in what should be a great National Title game tonight.

    Wisconsin (-1) vs Duke (O/U 140) – We’ve finally arrived at the National Championship game after 62 crazy tournament games (and four ridiculous play-in games) and we have Duke and Wisconsin fighting it out. These two played each other way back in early December in Madison in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Duke shot the lights out and handed the Badgers a rare home-loss by the score of 80-70.

    Here’s my breakdown for tonight’s match-up.

    Frank

    How effective will Frank the Tank be tonight against Duke?

    Duke on Offense/Wisconsin on Defense

    There’s no question Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff will watch a lot of Wisconsin’s tape in their win over Kentucky. What they’ll be focused on is just how did the Badgers defend in the paint. The Blue Devils’ Jahlil Okafor might be just a freshman but he has a better inside game than most of the bigs for Kentucky so Wisconsin will have to vary when they double and when they don’t.

    The Badgers are incredibly long and make moving the ball around the court difficult. Quin Cook will need to use his speed and quickness to create passing lanes and he’ll need to be the catalyst. Along with Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, the Badgers will have their hands full because Duke holds an advantage in rebounding on the offensive end of the court.

    Wisconsin on Offense/Duke on Defense

    Duke hasn’t played defense this well in years. I’d go so far as to say that if they had played this well defensively in past tournaments then Coach K would have another title or two. The task will not be easy however because the Badgers can get scoring from so many different places. Obviously it starts with Frank Kaminsky, the National Player of the Year, who can score from inside or outside.

    If Duke puts Okafor on Kaminsky, look for “The Tank” to take Okafor away from the basket at times and down in the post at times as well in an effort to get him into foul trouble. The other key for Wisconsin is Sam Dekker who is as difficult a match-up as there is on the court tonight. Dekker has the ability to both drive to the basket and shoot the three-ball as well. At 6′ 9″ Dekker makes it very tough on defenders who have to be careful not to give him too much room or he will pop the deep ball before you know it.

    Where the Game May Be Decided

    Badgers’ guard Bronson Koenig will need to play well. He’s going to be dealing with guards quicker than he is on both ends of the court. What that means is that the senior will have use his experience to find open shots and direct the offense to high-percentage opportunities. I think you’ll see Bo Ryan go with fellow guard Traevon Jackson as a change up because he gets to the basket better than Koenig does. Keep an eye on this combination. It the Wisconsin guards struggle, that favors Duke in a big way.

    Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of Duke’s last seven games… Wisconsin is 21-17-1 against the spread this season… Duke leads the all-time series with Wisconsin 2-1 (all three games since 2007). The Blue Devils are 23-14-1 against the spread in the 2014-2015 season.

    The Pick: This is basically a pick’em game. There’s a lot to like about both team’s chances and we know that Coach K has won two of his four titles in Indianapolis. Wisconsin faced the highest seed possible in every game of the tournament and only three other one seeds have ever accomplished that on the way to the title. As much as I’ m thinking the Blue Devils will win this, I can’t help but take Wisconsin who has seemingly been on a mission all season. Take the OVER as well.

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    Player, Team Props for Today’s Semi-Final Action

    Final 4
    Final 4

    I've got some great prop bets for you to ponder as the Final Four tips off this evening.

    Thanks to our friends at Bovada, I’m able to provide you with some prop bets I really like heading into today’s Final Four action.

    Michigan State vs Duke

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Points – Travis Trice (MSU)

    Over                                      17½ (-140)

    Under                                   17½ (EVEN)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Assists – Travis Trice (MSU)

    Over                                      4 (-120)

    Under                                   4 (-120)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total 3 Point Shots Made – Travis Trice (MSU)

    Over                                      2½ (-180)

    Under                                   2½ (+140)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Points – Denzel Valentine (MSU)

    Over                                      14½ (-150)

    Under                                   14½ (+110)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Rebounds – Branden Dawson (MSU)

    Over                                      8½ (-130)

    Under                                   8½ (-110)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Points & Rebounds – Matt Costello (MSU)

    Over                                      9½ (-130)

    Under                                   9½ (-110)

    Spartans Analysis: I think the plays here revolve around Matt Costello and Brendon Dawson. Rebounding and second-chance points will be a critical factor in this game and the ability to neutralize Okafor and company on the boards will fall on these two. I like the OVER in both of their props. As for Trice and Valentine, I’m concerned about the quickness of the Blue Devils’ backcourt. I think the UNDER is a wise play on most of their props.

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Points – Jahlil Okafor (Duke)

    Over                                      17½ (-130)

    Under                                   17½ (-110)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Rebounds – Jahlil Okafor (Duke)

    Over                                      7½ (-140)

    Under                                   7½ (EVEN)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Blocks – Jahlil Okafor (Duke)

    Over                                      1½ (-150)

    Under                                   1½ (+110)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Points – Quinn Cook (Duke)

    Over                                      14½ (-130)

    Under                                   14½ (-110)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Points – Justise Winslow (Duke)

    Over                                      13½ (-140)

    Under                                   13½ (EVEN)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Rebounds – Justise Winslow (Duke)

    Over                                      7½ (-130)

    Under                                   7½ (-110)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Points – Tyus Jones (Duke)

    Over                                      11½ (-140)

    Under                                   11½ (EVEN)

    Blue Devils Analysis: Tom Izzo is facing a difficult choice in terms of trying to take away Okafor or trying to limit the play of the guards. Big bodies are at a premium for Sparty and that’s why I like the OVER on Okafor’s props. The emergence of Winslow will continue for Duke as well so take the OVER on him as well.

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Team Points – Michigan State

    Over                                      67 (-120)

    Under                                   67 (-120)

    (Michigan State @ Duke) – Total Team Points – Duke

    Over                                      72 (-120)

    Under                                   72 (-120)

    Final Analysis: I like the Blue Devils and the OVER. I think the great play of Michigan State has run its’ course now and talent will take over for Duke. I like the OVER for MSU as well but only because they’ll be making some hoops in garbage time.

    Kaminsky

    Frank Kaminsky will have his work cut out for him among the tall trees of Kentucky.

    Wisconsin vs Duke

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Points – Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)

    Over                                      17½ (-130)

    Under                                   17½ (-110)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Rebounds – Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)

    Over                                      7½ (-130)

    Under                                   7½ (-110)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Points – Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)

    Over                                      15½ (-130)

    Under                                   15½ (-110)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Points – Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin)

    Over                                      11½ (-130)

    Under                                   11½ (-110)

    Badgers Analysis: It’s hard not to like Sam Dekker. He plays hard and with some attitude but how long can he stay hot? I’ll take the OVER on points for him but not by much. As for Kaminsky, rebounding will be huge with so many fellow big men to compete against. I like the UNDER on him across the board. I do like Hayes and the OVER because he will be forced to make some plays.

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Points – Aaron Harrison (UK)

    Over                                      11½ (-130)

    Under                                   11½ (-110)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Points – Willie Cauley-Stein (UK)

    Over                                      9½ (-130)

    Under                                   9½ (-110)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Rebounds – Willie Cauley-Stein (UK)

    Over                                      7 (-130)

    Under                                   7 (-110)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Blocks – Willie Cauley-Stein (UK)

    Over                                      2 (-110)

    Under                                   2 (-130)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Points – Karl-Anthony Towns (UK)

    Over                                      12½ (-130)

    Under                                   12½ (-110)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Rebounds – Karl-Anthony Towns (UK)

    Over                                      6½ (-130)

    Under                                   6½ (-110)

    (Wisconsin @ Kentucky) – Total Points – Trey Lyles (UK)

    Over                                      9½ (-140)

    Under                                   9½ (EVEN)

    Wildcats Analysis: Towns will be the focal point after he proved he could score in the low post much better than Cauley-Stein could. That said, go with the UNDER on points for him and the OVER for Cauley-Stein who plays better than he did against Notre Dame. Aaron Harrison will have to hit some outside shots and I think that’s why the OVER is a smart play with him.

    Wisconsin Total Points 63.5

    OVER (-130)

    UNDER (-110)

    Kentucky Total Points 68.5

    OVER (-130)

    UNDER (-110)

    Final Analysis:

    I don’t see how this game is anything but a nail-biter. I like the Wildcats and the UNDER and the Badgers with the OVER in a game that is settled by a couple of points or less.

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    Final Four and Championship Game Trends

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    The NCAA Final Four is nearly here. In 24 hours, the four teams will play leaving two standing for the NCAA National Championship on Monday April 6.
    A number of different trends have taken place and angles to look into for betting purposes, as the Final Four gets ready to tip off in Indianapolis.
    These trends are only ones that are AGAINST THE SPREAD or ATS unless noted differently. Some of them go back to 1990.
    Trends for Final Four
    No. 1 seeds that are 5-point chalk or less (Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin) have a combined record of 17-8 against the number.
    No. 1 seeds that are champions from their conference (Wisconsin) as an underdog are 4-1 against the spread
    No. 1 seeds that are conference champions (Kentucky) have covered the spread in 5 of 6 games following a loss ATS.
    Teams from the ACC (Duke) are 6-1 ATS.
    Teams from the SEC (Kentucky) are 0-3-1 ATS
    Dogs from the Big Ten (Wisconsin, Michigan State) have a record of 3-5-1 ATS.
    Teams coming of an outright win as a dog (Wisconsin) have a record of 5-0-1 against the number.
    Championship Game Trends
    Favorites that are No. 1 seeds have a record of 8-2 against the number.
    Seeds that are No. 5 or lower are 1-6 straight up and 2-5 against the spread.
    Favorites by 5 point or less have covered the number in 12 of 14 games.
    Favorites scoring 80 points or more during the Final Four have covered the spread in the championship game 5 of 6 times.
    Coaches Trends
    Mike Krzyzweski – Duke
    NCAA Tournament career – 65-19 straight up and 41-41-2 against the spread
    Versus Big Ten – 48-12 SU, 35-25 ATS
    Versus SEC – 14-4 SU, 10-8 ATS
    John Calipari – Kentucky
    NCAA Tournament career – 47-14 SU, 35-27-2 ATS
    Versus ACC – 17-10 SU, 13-14 ATS
    Versus Big 10 – 11-6 SU, 9-7-1 ATS
    Tom Izzo – Michigan State
    NCAA Tournament Career – 46-16 SU, 36-24-2
    Versus ACC – 13-24 SU, 18-19 ATS
    Versus Big 10 – 250-122 SU, 206-171-4-1 ATS
    Versus SEC – 15-4 SU, 12-6-1 ATS
    Bo Ryan – Wisconsin
    NCAA Tournament Career – 24-13 SU, 21-14-2 ATS
    Versus ACC – 11-10 SU, 15-6 ATS
    Versus Big 10 – 189-83 SU, 135-133-4 ATS
    Versus SEC – 8-5 SU, 7-4-2 ATS

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    Final Four, Tournament MOP Odds for Your Betting Pleasure

    JW
    JW

    Justise Winslow is an excellent pick for tournament MOP if you have Duke winning of course.

    With the Final Four almost here, I have the latest key odds from our friends at Bovada.

    Odds to Win the 2015 NCAA Championship 

    Kentucky #1                       2/3

    If you find it surprising that Kentucky is that type of favorite then I also have some ocean front property in Nebraska to sell you as well. The Wildcats survived a monumental upset bid by Notre Dame last Saturday night by riding the inside play of Karl Anthony Towns. His big night will certainly gain the attention of the Wisconsin Badgers and could also open things up for Willie Cauley-Stein.

    Duke #1                                3/1

    Mike Krzyzewski brings his Blue Devils to the Final Four for the 12th time which ties him with John Wooden of UCLA. What was most impressive about Duke on Sunday was that they advanced without a big day from Jahlil Okafor who had single digit points and rebounds. Enter Justise Winslow who has been outstanding in the tournament and looks to continue that play against the Spartans.

    Wisconsin #1                     4/1

    With most people thinking the de facto National Title game is between UK and the Badgers in the Semis, it’s a bit strange to see Wisconsin lower than Duke. Either way, the Badgers have to be focused on the Wildcats and I believe they are. Where Notre Dame struggled was in hitting threes at the rate they normally do; I don’t think that will be a problem for the Badgers who will learn from the Irish that taking the ball to the hoop against Kentucky can lead to high percentage shots and kickouts for three-pointers.

    TI

    Tom Izzo will look to Travis Trice to control the floor for his Spartans.

    Michigan State #7            8/1

    This team has beaten one top 25 team all season. They lost to Texas Southern… at home in East Lansing! Yet here come the Spartans and Tom Izzo who has mastered the art of preparing his teams for successful runs in March. If the big men can stay out of foul trouble and Brandon Dawson and Darnell Valentine limit some of the bone-headed mistakes from recent games then I believe Michigan State has every chance to be right there in the end.

    The Verdict: I’m doubting the Wildcats. I have all season and all they do is keep winning. Still, you’d be hard-pressed not to throw a few bucks on the Spartans who just won’t go away.

    Exact finals matchup in the 2015 NCAA Championship

    Kentucky vs Duke                            10/11

    Kentucky vs Michigan State        3/1

    Wisconsin vs Duke                          3/1

    Wisconsin vs Michigan State      7/1

    The match-up we all want to see: Kentucky-Duke… The match-up no one wants to see: Wisconsin-Michigan State… The match-up we are going to see: Put your money on Wisconsin-Duke.

    Odds to win Tournament MOP

    Karl Anthony Towns (Kentucky)                3/1

    Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)                 4/1

    Jahlil Okafor (Duke)                                       5/1

    Justise Winslow (Duke)                                5/1

    Aaron Harrison (Kentucky)                          7/1

    Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)                       8/1

    Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)                              8/1

    Travis Trice (Michigan State)                      12/1

    Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)          16/1

    Branden Dawson (Michigan State)           20/1

    Analysis: Towns is the sexy pick right now because of his play against Notre Dame last weekend and rightfully so, but now he’s facing coaches who won’t let him operate the way he did against the Irish. Cauley-Stein is always a good bet but I’ll be honest; his inside game isn’t very good. If Wisconsin and Duke/MSU keeps him off of the boards, I don’t think he’ll score enough.

    For Duke, I look at Okafor the same way I do Kentucky’s big men but the difference is that his low post game is actually a little better. Winslow is a fantastic play because he’s been so hot.

    Wisconsin can be so balanced at times that it’s hard to lay the MOP honors on just one guy but Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are listed here for a reason. Either would excellent plays.

    In terms of the Spartans, I think you have to go with Travis Trice. To me, he’s the only one who has the consistency to score, dish and play defense.

    Verdict: Winslow is my guy.

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    Each Final Four Team has a Flaw That Could Be Their Downfall

    casino-1

    The NCAA Tournament’s Final Four will tip off on Saturday. Each of the four teams has won its four games to reach this point and fans know the strengths of each team, but what weakness or weaknesses could spoil their national championship dreams.

    Duke defeated Gonzaga despite big man Jahlil Okafor having an off night. The Blue Devils played tough defense and only had three turnovers in the game.

    Kentucky is likely the best defensive team to ever play college basketball. Willie Cauley-Stein can play defense as well as anyone and alter shots. Add in another 8 or 9 players capable of staring for any other team and you have a recipe for success.

    Michigan State has a mental toughness better than any of the other teams. Even though Travis Trice was cold and Denzel Valentine’s made a few too many errors, the Spartans over came that by leaving it behind and moving on.

    Wisconsin is the consummate “team” in this Final Four. Everyone seems in sync and everyone knows where everyone should be and usually is, on the floor.

    The four head coaches – Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan,  Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo – are four of the best in the history of college basketball. Each will have his team properly prepared for their Saturday game.

    Even though all four are superb teams, just one will win the national championship.

    Duke has great freshmen, of which three start, but take one of them out of the equation or neutralize Quinn Cook the team’s star senior guard and Duke has a huge problem on its hands.

    Kentucky was lucky no to have Karl-Anthony Towns double-teamed by Notre Dame. Because of that, the Wildcats were 10 of 12 late in the game from the field. Towns shot 50%. If there is one slight crack in Kentucky’s armor, it is from the outside. The best possible way to beat them is sag on the inside and make them hit the outside shot all night. Oh, and if you can get Cauley-Stein in foul trouble it would help as well.

    Michigan State knows it has its shortcomings. Izzo’s group of Trice, Valentine and Branden Dawson has its flaws, but their fighting spirit cannot be measured. The team is a terrible free throw shooting team and has little overall depth, which could hurt late in games.

    Wisconsin, with Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, has two players that were preseason All-American selections. Traevon Jackson the sixth man is coming into his own after being sidelined with injuries.

    The backcourt for Wisconsin is likely its weakest link with Josh Gasser and Bronson Koenig. Kentucky’s Harrison twins along with Tyus Ulis are all former McDonald’s high school All-American and a much more dynamic set. If they are able to have their way against the Badgers, Wisconsin will once again lose another national semifinal.

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    Favorites Help Public to Big Win Last Weekend

    casino-128

    The NCAA Tournament’s second weekend was much kinder to the public bettor. It might take some time before bettors can recuperated all they lost during the first Thursday of March Madness to the sportsbooks but this past weekend bettors were able to win some of their monies back thanks to an array of favorites winning and covering.

    The results from the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight helped recoup some losses, as the favorites helped the bettors hit back at the books on both Friday and Sunday when the favorites were an impressive 6-0 against the number.

    One sportsbook said the weekend was the publics and Duke was their jackpot. He added that he knew what the books were looking at after Michigan State’s overtime win over Louisville that covered 2-5-point chalk.

    Even though some sharp money came in over the weekend on the Gonzaga Bulldogs, that made it appear the action was more balanced, once the bettor popular Michigan State Spartans won by 6 to cover, all the action on live parlays swung to Duke.

    On Friday, both Michigan State and Duke hurt the books as well. However, for the books there could be some relief. This weekend Duke plays Michigan State so the public will only be able to choose one.

    On Sunday evening, Duke opened as the favorite by 4.5 points against Michigan State at most books both in Vegas and online with Bovada and topbet. However, that number was bet up with early Duke money to -5 in just two hours.

    Kentucky on Saturday opened as 6-point chalk on books such as betonline and sportsbook.com. However, early money on Wisconsin pushed the line for the Wildcats down to just -5. The shortest spread the Wildcats have had the entire season was against Louisville on December 27 when the line was -5 to -5.5 and Kentucky covered with a 58-50 win.

    One bookmaker believes that with all the close games that have been played that both of the Final Four games could be blowouts. He feels that Kentucky was given their biggest scare by Notre Dame on Saturday and will respond with two huge games over Wisconsin on Saturday and either Duke or Michigan State on Monday in the national championship game.

    The public needs another strong Saturday and Monday if they hope to make back what they lost on opening Thursday. That will not be that easy since two of the most popular teams are facing off against one another when Duke plays Michigan State.

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    East Region Final: Louisville vs. Michigan State (-2.5)

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    The two lowest seeds remaining in the NCAA Tournament face off today when the No. 7 seeded Michigan State Spartans play the No. 4 seeded Louisville Cardinals for the East Region title and a trip to the Final Four to play against the winner of Duke and Gonzaga.

    Michigan State is the lower seeded team, but is favored in this game by 2.5 points with the total points sitting on 128.5. One thing is certain, two of the best college basketball coaches will be on the sidelines at this game, with Rick Pitino leading Louisville and Tom Izzo leading the Spartans.

    Michigan State is 26-11 SU and 21-16 ATS. The Spartans have been an underrated team but has proceeded to knock higher seeds out. The Spartans defeated No. 3 seed the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sweet 16 to reach this game. The Spartans now have been the favorite the past two games even though they have been the lower seed.

    Louisville is 27-8 SU and 14-19-1 ATS. Six years ago, the Cardinals were a No. 1 seed and were upset by Michigan State, but three years ago, Louisville has its revenge when they defeated the Spartans who at the time were a No. 1 seed during the Sweet 16. Louisville is 2-0 SU and ATS in its last two appearances in the Elite Eight.

    Under Izzo, the Spartans are 6-2 SU while 5-2-1 ATS over its past eight games in the Elite Eight.

    This is the only region that has had the top three seeds eliminated. The Spartans defeated the No. 2 Sooners and Virginia the No. 2 seed. Louisville has not had to face any opponent higher that Northern Iowa at No. 5.

    Louisville cashed as an underdog of 2.5 points in its 66-53 win over Northern Iowa in its round of 32 game, which improved the team to 8-3-1 ATS over its past 12 games as a dog, with six outright wins during that run.

    Michigan State has won six straight as a favorite and 10 of its past 11 with an 8-3 mark ATS.

    This game should be both physical and tough between two programs playing head to head the third time in the past seven NCAA tournaments. Each team has played well in the tournament, which is not surprising due to their top coaches, However Michigan State seems to be playing better and carry more overall momentum.

    The game should be close throughout, with the spread never being more than single digits the entire game.

    Pick: I look Louisville to cover and the UNDER to cash out.

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    Utah Meets Duke in South Region Semifinal

    casino-124

    The Utah Utes the No. 5 seed in the South Region played the No 1 seeded Duke Blue Devils in one of the region’s semifinal games. Both Utah and Duke have won as well as covered the number in their two games in the NCAA Tournament so far.

    Something must give however when the two meet in Houston tonight following the first semifinal game between the UCLA Bruins and Gonzaga Bulldogs.

    Duke is currently favored by 5.5 points with the point total sitting on 134.5

    This is the first time Utah has been in the NCAA Tournament since 2009. The last time the Utes reached the Elite 8 was in 1998.

    Duke a perennial powerhouse has reached the Elite 8 just twice over the past 10 years – 2010, 2013 – and losing here would be a huge disappointment for the Blue Devils. Duke is 6-1 against the number in its past 7 games played. The UNDER has cashed in each of the past four games played by Duke.

    Utah reached the Sweet 16 with wins over Stephen F. Austin by the score of 57-50 and over Georgetown 75-64.

    Duke punched its Sweet 16 tickets with wins over Robert Morris by 29 points and over San Diego State by 19 points. Jahlil Okafor their freshman phenom who is averaging 23.5 points per game on 78% shooting leads the Blue Devils. He is one of three starters for Duke who are freshmen along with Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow. All three look very confident on such an important stage.

    Duke is averaging 80.4 points per game and is hard to stop when it is at its best. Delon Wright a senior at point guard for Utah will be an important factor in starting Utah’s offense and stopping Duke’s backcourt.
    Freshman Jakob Poeltl the Utah center will have the task of stopping Okafor. He must slow Okafor down and must score a few point inside to keep the Duke defense honest.

    Utah’s only hope is to control Okafor without getting into major foul trouble.

    A huge difference exists between the point spread and the power ratings between these two teams. Many look at this game as a pick ‘em and not as Duke by 5.5 points. Utah’s defense is much better than Duke’s.

    Utah could very well win the game outright, let allow cover the 5.5 points on the spread. A moneyline bet on Utah would not be a bad decision by any means.

    With Utah’s strong defense, the UNDER could also be a good choice to take. The two plays look to be Utah and the UNDER.

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    Tonight’s Games in the Sweet Sixteen

    Bob Huggins
    Bob Huggins

    Can Bob Huggins and his Mountaineers pull off the upset of Kentucky?

    Here are my thoughts on tonight’s Sweet Sixteen action.

    West Virginia (+13.5) vs Kentucky – In case you didn’t notice, this kind of a big game. It’s not your ordinary Sweet Sixteen game simply because of what’s at stake. The Kentucky Wildcats are four wins away from the first unbeaten season since the mid-‘70’s Indiana Hoosiers.

    If I’m the Mountaineers, I look at this line and immediately I’m playing the “disrespect” card. Bob Huggins’ team has beaten some good clubs this year including fellow Sweet Sixteen teams NC State and Oklahoma as well as Kansas.

    WVU will dial up the heat with pressure defense but will Kentucky’s guards crack?

    Trends: UK is 8-3-1 against the spread in their last 12 games… West Virginia has gone 19-13 ATS this season… The Mountaineers rebound better offensively by a margin of 16.5 to 12.9.

    The Pick: I like West Virginia getting a bunch of points.

    Brey

    Mike Brey has to put his emotions aside and get his Irish focused on the Shockers.

    Wichita State (-1.5) vs Notre Dame – This is easily my most difficult game to pick for tonight. Wichita State is so tough and they get every loose ball while Notre Dame can shoot the lights out if you aren’t careful.

    I’d be remiss if I ignored the fact that ND Coach Mike Brey is dealing with the loss of his mother who passed away just prior to their game this past weekend. Will it factor in? I don’t think so but certainly his attention isn’t 100% on the Shockers.

    At the same time, WSU Head Coach Gregg Marshall has to know his name has been tossed about for several openings or “potential” openings. Will this distract him? Hard to say.

    Trends: The Shockers are 18-14-1 against the spread this year… The Irish are 15-13 ATS this season… Notre Dame has won five in a row.

    Xavier (+10.5) vs. Arizona – The Musketeers are probably the team flying lowest below the radar in the Sweet Sixteen but any basketball fan knows this is a very good program. In both wins of the tournament, Xavier had to defeat teams with momentum. In the opener they beat an Ole Miss team that hung 90+ points on BYU and then had to beat the feel good story of week one Georgia State.

    As good as Xavier is, they will need near perfection to beat Arizona. The Wildcats have won 20 of their last 21 games and are riding a very talented group of starters and role players. If the Musketeers will have a chance, they need to limit Arizona’s field goal shooting. The Wildcats are 6th in the country at just a shade under 49% on the season.

    Trends: The Wildcats have won five straight games… The Musketeers are 17-17-1 against the spread this year… Arizona is 23-13 ATS this season.

    The Pick: Give me Xavier and the points as they give the Wildcats some trouble early.

    North Carolina (+6) vs Wisconsin – The Big Ten Champs got a bit of a wake-up call from Oregon in the round of 32. While I don’t think the Badgers were ever in harm’s way, it was a good dose of reality for them heading into a game with a traditional power. Wisconsin will go as Frank Kaminsky goes.The seven-footer is a match-up nightmare because of his ability to shoot from the outside and he’s an excellent passer as well.

    Tar Heels’ Head Coach Roy Williams has already said the team will play tonight without sophomore center Kennedy Meeks who’s dealing with a knee problem. He reportedly practiced in Los Angeles during the team’s first practice there. Despite him being in a slump recently, his presence on the court is important.

    Trends: The Badgers are 18-17-1 against the spread this season… The Tar Heels are 20-16-1 ATS in the 2014-2015 season.

    The Pick: I like the Badgers to cover behind some stifling defense.

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