After yet another surprising day in the NCAA Tournament, with one more #1 seed falling out as Kentucky dropped Ohio State in a close 62-60 victory, we press on towards the Elite 8 round of competition, with two games taking place today in great match-ups on either side of the country. Though once again we enter another day of betting on NCAA basketball in the wake of some unforeseen outcomes, especially the unexpected blowout of Marquette at the hands of North Carolina, and the quick, unchallenged exit of Richmond that no doubt had all us Cinderella backers shaking our heads, today’s two games for the Elite 8 will offer another great challenge for online sports betting fanatics, and more likelihood of well-contested basketball contests as the match-ups become more balanced and more exciting over the course of the weekend. For the first two wagers on the day, spot your best bets at the Betonline Sportsbook (read the review of Betonline Sportsbook), one of the best sportsbooks reviewed here on our website. With Butler now having to erase the underdog/Cinderella prefix from their names as they enter the Elite 8 for the second time in two years, and with Arizona handling the #1 seed Duke Blue Devils out West and proving their athleticism is enough to run with any team in the country, these opening match-ups today pitting Butler vs. Florida and Arizona vs. UConn will be hotly contested, and certainly not the likes of the two blowouts yesterday as Kansas dismantled Richmond, and Marquette simply failed to show up against the North Carolina Tarheels.
For opening wagers on the day, let’s turn to the first game slated for Saturday night, pitting Brad Stevens’ thrilling Butler Bulldogs against Billy Donovan’s well-balanced, veteran Florida Gators. What stands out for this match-up is the inside presence of Florida, which was out for all to see on Thursday night as the Gators simply dominated the boards en route towards forcing BYU’s outside game to make almost all their points. Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin and Chandler Parsons will certainly make it difficult for the smaller Butler squad to win the battle of the paint, needing to rely more on outside threats from point guard Shelvin Mack to help offset the lack of production down low. However, as has always been the case in this year’s tournament, the match-ups alone won’t dictate the outcome of the games on any given day. Butler has won by clutching up at the right times, and taking advantage of mistakes, something which Florida is prone to do, especially when defended well. Butler has more balance than the BYU team that should have knocked off the Gators, and as such this game should be just as close, if not going to overtime to decide who gets the bid into this year’s Final Four. With Butler coming in +4 on the spread and +170 win, another good underdog opportunity presents itself today for betting on sports at Betonline.com, and with last year’s runners-up looking to make the final dance once again, expect this to be within 4 points at the end, if Butler doesn’t edge out Florida outright.
For the second match-up between Arizona and UConn, the Wildcats have already achieved more than anyone could have expected coming into the tournament, and this contest tonight should be one of the most exciting games of the tournament with star players Kemba Walker for UConn and Derrick Williams for Arizona helping to push the pace and lead a high-scoring, high-energy showdown that either team could win. Arizona no doubt will get a home advantage playing in Anaheim tonight, but the way that Jim Calhoun’s Huskies have been led in the face of adversity lately, it’s little consolation to anyone thinking Arizona holds the advantage on location alone. It’s interesting to watch the spread tighten up for Arizona, once a 10.5 point underdog to Duke, and now only getting +2.5 points to UConn. The way UConn was able to shut down a similar forward in Kawhi Leonard, they’ll look to do the same against the athletic Derrick Williams, keeping him out of the paint and forced to shoot more from the outside. Though the stars will play their role, look out for the supporting cast to be the difference here, which UConn simply has more of with improving freshmen Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier helping the Huskies to continue their impressive run towards the Final Four. With a 146.5 point over/under, expect plenty of scoring tonight, and if you’re not set on one team or another, look for the over wager on total points to be a good option for you on the betting lines.
Switching gears to NBA Basketball today, the race to the playoffs continue with 6 games on tap tonight, with a couple of interesting match-ups potentially affecting playoff seeding specifically in the Eastern Conference race. After nabbing an impressive come-from-behind win last night in Boston, Charlotte heads home in a turnaround game against the struggling New York Knicks, who have dropped five straight and don’t seem to have any answers to their floundering. Where the Bobcats could take advantage like they did last night against the Celtics, is in the fourth quarter. The Knicks have been scoring less than 20 points in the 4th in each of their last 5 losses, and though Charlotte likely will be without leading scorer Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas once again, at home and building confidence, the Bobcats could put up a good fight. The one concern however remains offensive production. In their victory against Boston, Charlotte managed on 83 points, which no doubt won’t cut it against New York who has plenty of offense to spread around. New York faces a must-win tonight to stay in their 7th seed position, and taking them to cover the 4.5 points, we’ll lean on them to pull out of their funk against the depleted Bobcats. Next up for basketball bets, the Chicago Bulls look to stay strong in the East as they head to Milwaukee, with a Bucks team desperate for a win to climb up into the 8th seed currently occupied by Indiana at only 2 games ahead. The Bucks have been hot, winning 4 of their last 5 games, however the Bulls have been even hotter, winning 11 of 12, and owning the season against Milwaukee thus far. Defense has played the key role for the Bulls, and with Milwaukee already last in scoring offense and 3rd in points allowed as well (Chicago is 20th in scoring, 2nd in scoring D), this likely will be a tight game with points hard to come by. Chicago is the right pick however, taking them to cover the 5.5 points as they continue to battle for best in the East and home court through the playoffs.
Onto a few other wagers worth checking out today at the Betonline.com sportsbook, more NBA games with potential playoff implications are available, including Dallas at Utah, with the Jazz desperate to hang on to a final shot at a playoff seed in the West (4 games back of 8th seed Memphis now), the Atlanta Hawks needing a win at home against the New Jersey Nets to help keep Philadelphia at bay, and Indiana looking to bounce back against Detroit to hold their 8th seed in the East. Switching to NHL Hockey options for betting on sports today, the Los Angeles Kings need to win at home against struggling Colorado to remain the 5th seed, as all other playoff contenders in the Western Conference are also in action today. Elsewhere in the West, Dallas needs to pick up a road win at Nashville to stay relevant in the playoff chase, Anaheim heads to Chicago with only 1 point separating the 7th and 8th seeded teams, and San Jose and Phoenix duke it out for top position in the Pacific Division, with the Sharks just 2 points ahead of the Coyotes (though with a one game advantage). In the East, check out exciting games between Montreal and Washington, with the Canadiens needing to bounce back after a crushing 7-0 loss to Original Six rival Boston, Carolina needing a home victory over Tampa Bay to stay on pace with Buffalo for the 8th seed (as Buffalo hosts New Jersey in what should be another great game), and the Rangers and Bruins already underway in a battle that New York will need to win to keep ahead of Buffalo and perhaps move into a tie for sixth if Montreal falls against Washington. Another great day for sports fans and for online sports betting at the top sportsbooks reviewed here, check into Betonline.com for action from basketball, hockey, soccer and more each and every day, and as always good luck in all your wagers to come!