Favorites Help Public to Big Win Last Weekend

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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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Things to Know about the Sweet 16

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The Sweet 16 lineup is complete following the first four-day weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Of the 16 teams, five are from the ACC, but surprisingly missing in that group of five is Virginia.

Most of basketball insiders have said all season that the Big 12 was the country’s top conference, but that likely is no longer the case. With five teams heading to the Sweet 16 from the ACC, the conference now can claim the prize of the best in the nation.

There is even a possibility of having a Final Four that is all ACC.

Four of the best Sweet 16 will be:

  • Wichita State vs. Notre Dame  - While Notre Dame is an excellent offense, Wichita State is strong at both ends. Fred VanVleet vs. Jerian Grant is one of the best point guard matchups you will find. The Shockers are lower seeded which is further proof they did not get any respect on Selection Sunday.
  • West Virginia vs. Kentucky – In 2010, the Wildcats were top seeded in the tournament and were bounced out prior to the Final Four and Bob Huggins, the coach of the Mountaineers devised the plan that eliminated Kentucky. Just because of that this matchup will be a must see.
  • Utah vs. Duke – Both the Utes and Blue Devils are solid offensive teams and suggest that this could be the game that will be the closest of all of the Sweet 16 matchups. With a strong guard on both teams and a dominant big man on both, this will not be an easy game for Duke.
  • North Carolina vs. Wisconsin – Both these teams were preseason top 10 schools, making it the only game of the 8 in the Sweet 16 between two preseason top 10 teams. Wisconsin was third while the Tar Heels were sixth.

All four of the top four teams in the preseason top 10 – Kentucky, Arizona, Wisconsin and Duke remain in the tournament and six of the 10 – North Carolina and Louisville remain overall.

Defense has been called what wins championships, but this game is all about putting the ball in the hoop and six of the top seven teams in the nation at scoring remain in the Big Dance.

The best offensive team is Wisconsin that remains and they are No. 1, the worst is Louisville at No. 74. The best defensive team is Kentucky at No. 1 and the worst Notre Dame at No. 103.

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Three Intriguing Round of 32 Matchups

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For only the first time in the past 8 seasons, there were no upsets in the matchup between No. 5 and No. 12 seeds in the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. That in turn helped set up round of 32 matchups between No. 4 seeds and No. 5 seeds for the opportunity to play in next week’s Sweet 16 to the winner.

For the first time in the past 8 seasons, Louisville seeded No. 4 will be an underdog during the round of 32. The Cardinals face Northern Iowa the No. 5 seed in Seattle on Sunday in the West Region. The Panthers were 1-point favorites to open according to Bovada and betonline. However, they were bet up and currently are 2.5-point favorites to beat Louisville, which was nearly upset in the round of 64 by UC Irvine the No. 13 seed as 8.5-point chalk on Friday.

Over its past 21 games played Northern Iowa is 20-1 straight up and 14-4-3 against the spread. In the round of 64, the Panthers routed Wyoming the No. 12 seed 71-54 as 6.5-point favorites.

Louisville has covered just 2 of its past 9 games overall and have performed well the past three weeks.

Another big game will take place in the Midwest Region, when Kansas No. 2 in the region will play Wichita State the No. 7 seed. The Jayhawks are currently a favorite by 1.5 points after it opened at -2 and was bet up at one point to -2.5.

Kansas has struggled the last part of the season before routing New Mexico State by 19 points to cover it 9.5-point favorites line.

Wichita State had won 9 straight before losing to Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference semifinals, but returned to win in the round of 64 over Indiana on Friday.

Another great matchup and possibly the most intriguing of all is Virginia the No. 2 seed play Michigan State the No. 7 seed. Last season the two met in the Sweet 16 in which the Spartans, seeded No. 4 defeated the No. 1 seeded Cavaliers.

Virginia currently is favored by 5 points. The Cavaliers defeated a valiant Belmont team 79-67 in its first game as 16-point chalk, while Michigan State beat Georgia 70-63 to cover as a 6-point favorite.

According to basketball odds makers at topbet and sportsbook.com, neither team played that well in their round of 64 games, but that is hard to go by as teams find ways to survive bad games and turn things around the next game. Those who can overcome bad shooting, foul trouble and turnovers to still win often times turn out to be the national champion.

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NCAA Tournament: Tips, Trends and Tidbits

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March Madness begins in earnest this week as the NCAA Tournament tips off with play-in games prior to half the field playing on Thursday and the second half on Friday.

Before that, bettors are quickly preparing themselves to find the biggest value and best percentages for this season’s Big Dance.

The NCAA tournament continues get more and more unpredictable. Last year’s tournament saw 15 significant upsets during the tournament. A significant upset is when there is a gap between seeds of at least four.

The most balanced teams in the field are Kentucky, Arizona and Villanova. Kentucky is No. 2 in adjusted defensive efficiency and No. 6 in adjusted offensive efficiency. Arizona is No. 3 and No. 11 respectively in the two categories, while the Villanova Wildcats are No. 12 and No. 4.

None of the other teams in the field approaches the balance these two teams have. Duke, a No. 1 seed is No. 3 offensively but a dismal No. 57 defensively. Virginia is No. 1 in defensive efficiency but No. 26 on offense.

Since the field increased in 1985, the No. 16 seeds have an overall record of 0-120, while the No. 15 seeds are a combined 7-113.

One seed that has paid off well is No. 12. The No. 12 seeds over the past two seasons are 6-2 against the No. 5 seeds. At least one No. 12 seed has reached the second round in 13 of the last 14 years. Even more interesting is that the No. 12 seeds have a better winning percentage at 36.7% than do the No. 11 seeds at 34%. This year’s teams at No. 12 are Stephen F. Austin, Wyoming, Buffalo and Wofford.

The big question entering this tournament is if anyone can stop the Kentucky Wildcats. One coach that opposed the Wildcats this season, Bruce Pearl from Auburn said only three of the teams in the tournament have an opportunity to  defeat the Wildcats: Gonzaga, Duke and Wisconsin.

He liked Gonzaga because of its overall size and Kyle Wiltjer their All-American would love the opportunity to play against his former Wildcats coach. Pearl added that teams that want to beat Kentucky must be big, physical and shot well.

This season the Big 12 has been ranked the top conference of the season. However, the Big East, ACC, Big Ten, SEC and the Pac-12 also have strong competitors.

VCU is a No. 7 seed, but will be an underdog of 2.5 points against Ohio State.

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No. 3 Gonzaga Faces Rival Saint Mary’s

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The No. 3 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs visit the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday night. Gonzaga is 27-1 straight up and 12-11-2 against the spread. Saint Mary’s is 20-6 SU and 16-6-2 ATS. Gonzaga opened as an 8.5-point favored by currently is -6.5.

Even though Gonzaga has just 1 loss straight up this season, the Bulldogs are 1-4 ATS over their past five games played. Of course, it makes it a bit more difficult when those five games the Bulldogs were favored by 10 points or more.

Besides a win by 8 points over Pepperdine, none of the past five games has been close even though they have failed to cover.

Gonzaga has one of the country’s best offenses even if the competition it faces is not the best in the country. The Bulldogs have the best field goal percentage in the nation and score an average of 80 points per game.

The defense for St. Mary’s is just average but on offense they are competitive. However, the first time the two meet earlier this season Gonzaga covered a 15-point spread.

Gonzaga is in the top 20 in the country for defensive field goal percentage. In January in the first meeting between the two, the Bulldogs held St. Mary’s to 36% shooting, while Gonzaga hit 53% of its shots. St. Mary’s could only score 47 points, which is its lowest output of this season.

Gonzaga has won 20 straight games for the third time in team history. The Bulldogs have won 10 of the past 12 regular season titles outright. St. Mary’s, who are in second place this season, was the winner of the conference in 2011-12 one season after both teams split the title.

Gonzaga has won 7 straight against St. Mary’s, with the past 6 by an average margin of 19.7 points.

St. Mary’s has won 9 of its past 10 on its home court. The Gaels will retire the jersey of former Gaels star Patty Mills, who now plays for the San Antonio Spurs, at the game tonight.

It is the first time all season that St. Mary’s will be the underdog at home. Gonzaga has not covered a spread in any of its past six games on road, but remember the spreads have been large in each game.

Pick: Gonzaga 62-57

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ACC and Pac-12 Games Highlight Sunday College Basketball …

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Betting action for the weekend in college basketball ends with two Sunday games involving Pac-12 and ACC teams. Miami hosts Clemson in ACC action, while USC is on the road against Stanford.

Clemson Tigers at Miami Hurricanes

Odds: Miami -7

Clemson has put together a run of 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread in its past four games overall. The Tigers defeated Florida State their last time out 62-56, as a road dog by 2.5 points. The total has cashed UNDER in seven straight games for Clemson.

Miami is below .500 in conference play. The Hurricanes are 0-3 SU and ATS in their past three games overall, including a loss on Tuesday to Louisville 63-55 as a home dog of 4.5 points.

Clemson is 4-1 ATS over its past 5 games on the road and 5-1 ATS in it past 6 games versus an opponent with a winning record straight up.

Miami has not covered in 4 of its past 5 games at home and is 0-3-1 ATS during its past 4 games after a loss straight up. The total has cashed UNDER in 16 of Miami’s past 21 home games.

The underdog is 12-3-1 ATS in the past 16 games between the two teams. The total has cashed UNDER in 6 of the past 8 games between the two in Miami. Over the past 6 head-to-head games, the series is 3-3 SU, with Clemson 5-0-1 ATS.
Pick: Miami 69-65

USC Trojans at Stanford Cardinal
Odds: Stanford -13.5

USC is buried at the bottom of the Pac-12 conference standings with a 1-9 SU and 5-5 ATS record. Thursday night as a road dog of 7.5 points, USC covered in a one-point loss to Cal.

The total has cashed on 4 of the past 7 games for USC. One bright spot for USC has been Jordan McLaughlin a freshman guard who scored 20 points and pulled down 5 boards in Thursday’s loss.

Stanford trails Arizona by three games in the Pac-12 race at 6-4 straight up and 4-5-1 against the number. Stanford is 0-2 SU in its past two games versus UCLA and Washington State.

USC is 6-2 ATS in its past 8 games on the road and 9-3 ATS in its past 12 games away from home versus a team with a straight up home winning record. The total has cashed OVER in 4 of USC’s past 5 games played on Sunday.

Stanford is 9-3-1 against the number in its past 13 games versus a team with a losing record straight up and is 4-2-1 against the number in its past seven games at home. The total has cashed UNDER in 8 of its past 11 games played at home.

Pick: Stanford 65-59

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Oregon vs. Ohio State Line, Trends and Prediction

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Monday night, the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game, will kick off from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Oregon Ducks led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will face the Ohio State Buckeye led by quarterback Cardale Jones.

In its semifinal game, Oregon defeated the Florida State Seminoles 59-20, easily covering the spread. At the same time, Ohio State defeated Alabama 43-35, winning outright as an underdog.

The last time the two teams met was in the Rose Bowl in 2010 with Ohio State winning 27-16 and covering a 4.5-point spread by winning outright as the underdog.

This is the first time in eight seasons that no SEC team will by for the national championship.

Oregon on the season is 13-1 straight up and 10-4 against the spread. Ohio State is 13-1 SU and 9-5 ATS.

The over-under for Oregon this season is 7-7 and for Ohio State 12-2.

Oregon is 9-0 SU and ATS, since is only loss earlier in the regular season to Arizona. In each of the 9 games, the Ducks covered a spread of seven points or more on eight occasions.

According to Bovada and betonline, Oregon is 5-1 SU against schools from the Big 10 since 2007.

Ohio State ended the season with a run of 8-3 ATS and since 2007 is 13-2 against the number while an underdog and covering six straight when receiving 7 points or more.
According to topbet and sportsbook.com, the line opened at Oregon -6.5 and has fluctuated between there and -7.5 the past 10 days.

The point total opened at 72.5 on most sites, but has gone as high as 75.

Offensively, Oregon has the nation’s No. 2 offense scoring 47.2 points per game against the No. 27 ranked defense of Ohio State that is allowing 22.1 points per game.

The Ducks passing game averages 311 yards a game, while the Buckeyes allowed 191.5 yards per game through the air.

Trends

  • Ohio State has covered the spread in 8 of its past 12 games overall.
  • Ohio State has won 5 consecutive games straight up.
  • Oregon has won straight up and covered the spread in each of its past 9 games overall
  • Oregon is 4-0 against the number in its past four bowl games.
  • The OVER has cashed in 12 of the past 13 games played by Ohio State.

Prediction

 Both teams will score and often. The OVER even though it seems high, looks to be a good play.

Between the teams, they average 92 points per game, which should make for fireworks on the offensive side.

The Ducks do not matchup as well with Ohio State as they did with Florida State. The spread seems high. I like the OVER and Ohio State covering.

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