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CBB ♦ ''Sweet 16'' ♦ Thursday 3/24/16

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    Opening odds and early betting action on NCAA ‘Sweet 16’ matchups
    By Jason Logan

    After an opening weekend filled with upset stunners and heartbreaking losses, the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 is set. And for such a thrilling four days of “Big Dance” action, the remaining eight matchups are void of a true Cinderella team.

    The biggest seeds left standing face off in a No. 10 versus No. 11 showdown, when the Syracuse Orange take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Midwest Regional semifinals. But while these teams are double-digit draws this year, it’s tough to call two power programs, like Syracuse and Gonzaga, true Cinderellas.

    Oddsmakers opened with the No. 11 Bulldogs as low as 4-point favorites in Chicago Friday, with that number quickly being bet up to -4.5. In Las Vegas, sportsbook operator CG Technology opened the Zags as 5-point chalk.

    According to online book Carbon Gaming, which opened Gonzaga -4.5, they’ve seen early money on the underdog.

    “The Orange are getting 54 percent of the early action,” says Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming. following Syracuse’s dominant 25-point win against Middle Tennessee State.

    Outside of that meeting between double-digit seeds, the tournament has trickled down as many expected – for the most part.

    No. 7 Wisconsin shocked No. 2 Xavier with a last-second shot Sunday, setting up the Badgers with No. 6 Notre Dame in the Sweet 16. Oddsmakers opened this game a pick’em and early money sided with the Fighting Irish, moving this spread to -1.5. Notre Dame avoided an upset of its own with a 76-75 victory over Stephen F. Austin in the Round of 32.

    No. 2 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 3 Miami Hurricanes – Open: +4, Move: +5, +4.5

    The bottom half of the South Regional has the No. 2 Wildcats facing the No. 3 Hurricanes. Oddsmakers opened Villanova as low as -4 and watched action bet the line up as high as -5 before buyback on Miami, trimmed a half a point from that spread.

    “We initially took Nova money from a lot of the public and one player we respect. We moved the spread to +5 but then quickly got action from some smart bettors so we moved back to the opener of -4.5,” John Lester, line manager for Bookmaker. “It will be interesting to see where this goes but there haven’t been a lot of Hurricanes backers in the tournament thus far.”

    Villanova has rolled through its first two tournament opponents, crushing UNC-Asheville and Iowa to advance to the Sweet 16. Miami, on the other hand, was challenged by Buffalo in the opening round but looked sound against Wichita State in the Round of 32.

    No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 5 Indiana Hoosiers – Open: +4.5, Move: +6

    Online books opened North Carolina as low as -4.5 versus Indiana, but according to CG Technology some of their oddsmakers wanted the spread even lower for this East Regional semifinal Friday.

    “Indiana versus UNC is, in my opinion, the most intriguing matchup and it was a tricky one to make a line for,” Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology. “Our team ranged from 3.5 to 6 and we went with the higher end based on the expectation of a lot of public bets on the Tar Heels coming Saturday.”

    The move to six has been pushed by public money, says Bookmaker. Wiseguys have yet to have an opinion on this name-brand Sweet 16 showdown. North Carolina has been one of the biggest public draws of the NCAA tournament, for games and outright winner futures as well.

    “We’ve booked more action on North Carolina to win it all than any other team. Bettors have also been backing them each round and the Sweet 16 is no different,” says Lester. “We opened Tar Heels -4.5 and have moved to -6 currently. It’s mostly public money at this point but if the sharps get involved on that side, we’ll really need a Hoosiers cover.”

    No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers vs. No. 4 Iowa State Cyclones – Open: +6, Move: +5

    The No. 1 Cavaliers opened as 6-point favorites for their meeting with the No. 4 Cyclones in Chicago Thursday, and according to CG Technology early money is siding with the underdog. Simbal says the second most money wagered for the Sweet 16 is on Iowa State, trimming a half a point from their opener.

    Online books, like Carbon Gaming, are down to Virginia -5 with 60 percent of the early money grabbing the points with the underdog.

    The Cyclones breezed past Iona in the Round of 64 and rolled Arkansas-Little Rock in the Round of 32, scoring a total of 172 points in those contests. Iowa State ranks 14th in the nation in scoring, averaging 82.1 points per game, and now faces a methodical Virginia program that thrives on defense and extending possessions.

    The Cavaliers play the slowest tempo in the country, according to, leaving books to set Thursday’s total at 141 points – the lowest number for an Iowa State game all season. According to Stewart, early total bettors are expecting Virginia to dictate the pace, with 92 percent of the early handle siding with the Under.

    Remaining NCAA Sweet 16 odds:

    No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies vs. No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (-2, 145)

    No. 5 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (-7, 147)

    No. 4 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 1 Oregon Ducks (-2.5, 156)


    Sweet 16 Primer
    By Brian Edwards

    Six ACC teams and all four No. 1 seeds are still alive in the 2016 NCAA Tournament that saw its field reduced to 16 during Sunday’s thrilling set of games.

    Notre Dame is one of the ACC schools that still has a pulse thanks to a 76-75 win over Stephen F. Austin in a helluva Round of 32 slugfest at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn. The Lumberjacks covered the spread as 1.5-point underdogs, while the 151 combined points zipped ‘over’ the 139.5-point total.

    Rex Pflueger’s amazing tip-in of a Zach Auguste miss with 1.5 seconds remaining lifted the Fighting Irish to a second straight Sweet 16 appearance. The bucket was Pflueger’s only one of the game, an epic affair that never saw more than a seven-point separation that the Fighting Irish enjoyed midway through the second half.

    Demetrius Jackson and Auguste were the catalysts for Mike Brey’s team. Jackson finished with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. He drained 2-of-3 attempts from downtown, including a trey with less than one second remaining in the first half to send the Irish to the locker room with a one-point cushion. Jackson’s 3-ball allowed Notre Dame to either push (-1) or cover (pick ‘em, -120 or -125 price) for its backers on first-half bets.

    Auguste finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, making 8-of-9 shots from the field. V.J. Beachem scored 15 points and seven rebounds.

    Notre Dame, a No. 6 seed, will face seventh-seeded Wisconsin on Friday at 7:25 p.m. Eastern in Philadelphia. One book had the Irish favored by 1.5 points early this morning.

    Stephen F. Austin had won 21 in a row after bouncing third-seeded West Va. from the Tournament as a seven-point underdog Friday night. Senior Thomas Walkup saw his collegiate career end in gut-wrenching fashion, but he went out on his sword. He played terrific in his final game, producing 21 points, five rebounds and five assists without committing a turnover.

    Wisconsin advanced by edging Xavier on Bronson Koenig’s buzzer beater from the corner while fading out of bounds. The Badgers trailed by nine with 6:19 remaining, but a trey by Koenig knotted the score at 63-63 with 11.7 seconds left. After Zak Showalter drew a charge with 4.7 seconds left, UW inbounded to halfcourt before calling its last timeout to set up a play that led to Koenig’s game winner.

    Wisconsin is in the region semifinals for the fifth time in six years. The Badgers are here despite starting the season with a 9-9 record and despite losing legendary head coach Bo Ryan to retirement before Christmas.

    The late game in Philly will pit No. 1 seed North Carolina against fifth-seeded Indiana. The Tar Heels have been installed as six-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 160.

    IU bounced Kentucky from the Tournament on Saturday night in Des Moines. Meanwhile, North Carolina overcame a four-point halftime deficit to pull away and even cover as a double-digit favorite vs. Providence.

    Jay Wright has his Villanova (31-5 SU, 17-17-1 ATS) program back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 after it destroyed Iowa 87-68 in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. The Wildcats easily hooked up their backers as six-point favorites.

    Senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono led the way with 16 points and four assists without a turnover. Josh Hart scored a team-high 19 points, while Kris Jenkins finished with 15 points, two steals and six assists without a turnover.

    Villanova will take on Miami on Thursday night in Louisville, Ky. The Westgate opened Villanova as a 4.5-point favorite with a total of 142.5 points. The Hurricanes, who beat Wichita St. as two-point underdogs Saturday, are +180 on the money line (risk $100 to win $180).

    The other South Region semifinal matchup features No. 1 seed Kansas against fifth-seeded Maryland. One book had the Jayhawks installed as seven-point favorites early this morning.

    KU took the cash in Saturday’s 73-61 win over UConn as an eight-point favorite. Meanwhile, the Terrapins put away a pesky Hawaii squad with a 14-0 run midway through the second half of a 73-60 win in Spokane, WA. They covered the number as 7.5-point favorites, while the 133 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 144-point tally.

    Melo Trimble paced the winners with 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Diamond Stone and Rasheed Sulaimon finished with 14 points apiece.

    The SEC still has life – somehow. Northern Iowa blew a 12-point lead with 35 seconds remaining in a collapse of unfathomable proportions. Texas A&M took advantage and won a 92-88 decision in double overtime.

    Forty-eight hours after beating Texas on a buzzer beater off the glass from halfcourt by senior Paul Jesperson, the Panthers committed four turnovers in 33 seconds and allowed the Aggies to make six straight shots to end regulation. Nevertheless, NIU still took the money as a seven-point underdog.

    Alex Caruso led the winners with 25 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Danuel House finished with 22 points and eight boards. NIU’s Jeremy Morgan was sensational in heartbreaking defeat, producing 36 points, 12 boards, three steals, two assists and a pair of blocked shots.

    Billy Kennedy’s squad will take on Oklahoma in Anaheim on Thursday night in the West Region semifinals. One betting shop had the Sooners favored by two early this morning.

    OU slipped past VCU by an 85-81 count in what equated to a home game on Oklahoma City. The Rams trailed by 13 at halftime, but they stormed back and into the lead with 9:55 remaining thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Michael Gilmore.

    Buddy Hield’s 3-ball with 6:37 left gave the Sooners the lead back for good, though. The senior All-American erupted for 29 of his game-high 36 points in the second half. VCU’s Melvin Johnson and JeQuan Lewis scored 23 and 22 points, respectively.

    Form held in the West Region, leaving us with a semifinal showdown between No. 1 seed Oregon and fourth-seeded Duke. The Blue Devils nearly blew a 27-point second-half lead Saturday against Yale. The Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to three, but Duke pulled away in the final minute for a 71-64 triumph as a six-point favorite.

    Oregon beat St. Joseph’s 69-64 thanks to an 11-4 run in the final two minutes, but the Hawks covered the spread as seven-point underdogs. Dillon Brooks led the way with a game-high 25 points.

    In the Midwest Region, a double-digit seed with play in the Elite Eight at United Center in Chicago this weekend. That’s because No. 10 seed Syracuse and No. 11 seed Gonzaga will collide in one semifinal matchup.

    Both schools were on the bubble two weeks ago. Jim Boeheim’s team advanced by smashing Middle Tennessee 75-50 Sunday as a six-point ‘chalk.’ Gonzaga drilled third-seeded Utah 82-59 on Saturday night, two days after dropping Seton Hall by a 68-52 score.

    As of early this morning, most books had Gonzaga favored by 4.5 points with a total of 135.

    Virginia and Iowa State will face each other in Friday’s early game from the Windy City. The Cavaliers are favored by 5.5 with a total of 141 points.

    **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

    — Bettors backing Northern Iowa on the money line for a +250 return obviously sustained all-timer of a bad beat. However, those on the Panthers plus seven might’ve taken the worst beat (EVER!) if not for inept free-throw shooting from Texas A&M in the second extra session.

    — St. Joseph’s finished its season with an incredible 10-1-1 spread record in 12 games as an underdog. The Hawks won nine of those games outright, but they were unable to do so against the Ducks.

    — Texas A&M is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007.

    — Florida advanced to the NIT quarterfinals by winning 74-66 at Ohio St. as a 1.5-point favorite Sunday afternoon in Columbus. The Gators will play on the road Wednesday against the winner of Monday’s winner of George Washington at Monmouth. Dorian Finney-Smith had 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Buckeyes. Kasey Hill had 15 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals.

    — The collegiate careers of Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines came to an end Sunday night in Georgia’s 77-65 loss at Saint Mary’s as a seven-point underdog. UGA did cover second half bets (pick ‘em) after trailing by 13 at intermission. Yante Maten made 14-of-17 field goals in the Bulldogs’ opening-round home win over Belmont. But against the Gaels, he couldn’t throw it in the ocean, missing 16 of his 22 shots from the field. Mann and Gaines finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively. I offer both a hat tip to excellent careers in which they helped me to many winners along with J.J. Frazier, who is a junior and will return for Mark Fox’s program next season. Frazier had 13 points, seven assists and five boards against the Gaels, but he was only 5-of-15 from the field.


    College Basketball Betting Trends – Thurs – Mar, 24

    Maryland at Kansas, 9:40 ET
    Maryland: 9-18 ATS after a game where they covered the spread
    Kansas: 8-2 ATS after 2 consecutive covers as a favorite

    Miami at Villanova, 7:10 ET
    Miami: 7-1 OVER when playing on a neutral court
    Villanova: 18-9 ATS in non-conference games

    Duke at Oregon, 10:05 ET
    Duke: 1-7 ATS in all neutral court lined games
    Oregon: 11-4 ATS after 1 or more consecutive unders

    Texas AM at Oklahoma, 7:35 ET
    Texas AM: 20-8 ATS after 2 straight games outrebounding opponent by 10 or more
    Oklahoma: 2-11 ATS after having won 4 of their last 5

    UT Arlington at New Jersey Tech, 7:30 ET
    UT Arlington: 4-11 ATS after playing 2 consecutive games as favorite
    New Jersey Tech: 9-2 ATS after a non-conference game


    Sweet 16 has been dominated by the dogs, especially these profitable pups
    By Jason Logan

    Sweet 16 favorites were a tasty treat for basketball bettors last March when NCAA tournament teams giving the points in the regional semifinals finished with a 6-2 record against the spread (7-1 ATS).

    That proposition has typically been a sour wager for those laying the points, with Sweet 16 underdogs posting a 21-9-1 ATS record (12-19 SU with one game closing as a pick’em) the four years prior (2011-2014) – covering the spread 70 percent of the time in that span.

    That has Big Dance bettors wondering how loud the underdogs will bark in Thursday and Friday’s Sweet 16 matchups. Perhaps the one thing that should most concern those looking to wager on the eight NCAA games is the size of the dog in those contests.

    Looking back to 2007, Sweet 16 underdogs between +3 and +6.5 are a collective 18-11-1 ATS (13-17 SU), covering the spread 62 percent of the time in that nine-season stretch. And shortening the sample to those four tournaments mentioned above – 2011 to 2014 – those same-sized pups (+3 to +6.5) posted an 11-4 ATS count, for a 73 percent cover rate.

    Taking a glance at the 2016 tournament schedule, six of the eight regional semifinals fall under that pointspread category – save for Oklahoma (-2.5) vs. Texas A&M, and Notre Dame (-1) vs. Wisconsin. Miami is getting four points from Villanova, Maryland is a 6.5-point underdog to Kansas, Duke moved from +1.5 to +3 versus Oregon, Iowa State is getting five points from Virginia, Syracuse is at +4.5 facing Gonzaga, and Indiana is a 5.5-point pup against North Carolina.

    As for the Aggies and Badgers currently sitting as slim betting pups, it’s not as cut and dry as dogs between +3 and +6.5. Underdogs between +1 and +1.5 are just 3-5 SU and ATS in the Sweet 16 since 2007 while dogs between +2 and +2.5 boast a breakeven 4-4-1 ATS record, going 3-6 SU in that span.

    So far, NCAA tournament betting underdogs have finished 12-36 SU and 22-25-1 ATS heading into the Sweet 16, covering at just a 47 percent clip. Those NCAA teams getting between +3 and +6.5 are a split 8-8 ATS (7-9 SU).


    Essential betting stats and trends for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8
    By Marc Lawrence

    If you are a player, a coach, or a fan, there is nothing sweeter this time of the year than being alive in the NCAA Tournament. For those teams that survived the opening two rounds of the “Big Dance,” it’s on to the Sweet 16 and hopefully, the Elite 8 this weekend.

    So before placing your wagers for the next two rounds, Expert Marc Lawrence digs up all the essential betting notes and trends of the teams that have arrived.

    All stats are ATS (Against The Spread) unless noted otherwise.

    NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Round notes

    • No. 1 Seeds coming off back-to-back SU/ATS wins are 19-8 ATS. Kansas fits the bill this year.

    • No. 2 Seed favorites of 4-points or greater, are 2-6-1 ATS. So be cautious Villanova backers.

    • No. 3 Seed dogs of 4-points or greater, are 6-1 ATS. That is the situation for Miami.

    • No. 4 Seed dogs of 6-points or less, are 6-1 ATS. Both Duke and Iowa State are in that spot.

    • No. 5 Seeds off a double-digit SU win, are 0-4 ATS. Maryland hopes to break that trend.

    • No. 6 Seeds off a SU win as favorites, are 5-0 ATS. Notre Dame hopes that holds true.

    • No. 7 Seed dogs of 3-pts or less, are 1-3 ATS. Wisconsin is in that spot this year.

    • No. 10 or worse seed dogs of 4-points or greater, are 6-1 ATS. Syracuse is looking at that situation.

    • Favorites off a SU win of 20 or more points are 0-4 ATS. Gonzaga is coming off a 23-point win over Utah.

    Best Team ATS records in the Sweet 16:

    Wisconsin 3-0, Oregon, Virginia 2-0, Oklahoma 4-1, Duke 3-1.

    Worst Team ATS records in the Sweet 16:

    Miami-Fl 0-2, Syracuse 1-6, Gonzaga and Indiana 1-3, Kansas 4-10.

    Best Conference ATS records in the Sweet 16:

    SEC: 7-1-1, Big East: 5-1 as dogs

    Worst Conference ATS records in this round:

    Big 12: 0-6
    MVC: 0-4
    West Coast: 1-3
    Pac-12: 2-6

    NCAA Tournament ‘ELITE 8’ Round notes

    • No. 1 Seed favorites of greater than 7-points are 1-9 ATS.

    • No. 2 Seeds are 3-10-1 ATS coming off a double-digit ATS win.

    • No. 3 Seeds are 2-9 ATS.

    • No. 4 Seeds are 11-3 ATS.

    • No. 5 Seeds are 7-0 ATS.

    • No. 6 Seeds are 2-5 ATS.

    • No. 7 Seeds are 3-1-1 ATS.

    • No. 8 Seeds are 5-1 ATS.

    • Teams that score 67 points or less:
    17-49 SU and 17-46-3 ATS.

    • Teams that score 85 points or more:
    29-7 SU and 26-8-2 ATS.

    • Teams coming off three or more ATS wins are 7-1-1 ATS.

    • Teams in Revenge spots are 16-6-1 ATS.

    • Dogs coming off three straight double-digit wins are 2-7-1 ATS.

    Best Conference ATS records in this round:

    Big East: 6-1 as dogs of 4-points or less, Big 10: 5-1 as dogs, SEC: 5-1 as favorites of 7 or more points, Pac 12: 4-1 as dogs.

    Worst Conference ATS records in this round:

    Big 12:
    0-11, ACC: 0-4 as favorites of greater than 7-points,

    Pac 12:
    1-5 as favorites of greater than 2-points

    Big East:
    1-4 as favorites of less than 4-points

    2-5 as favs less than 7-points.

    Coach me if you can

    • Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is 20-5 SU from the Elite 8 Round out since 1991, including 15-2 ATS when not favored by 7 or more points.


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    ‘NCAA SWEET 16’
    The following are the game analyses for the 2 NCAA games on Thursday March 24th.

    Louisville, KY

    Miami, FL vs. Villanova (-4-) 7:10 ET CBS TV
    Now, that Villanova has silenced their critics by winning a pair of early Round games by a combined 49 points (covering by 27), will the Wildcats be able to carry that momentum into the Sweet 16 game? Using the rule changes to their advantage, Villanova has employed their 4-guard offense, led by Arcidiacono and Hart and the interior force that is Ochefu to their best advantage. The Wildcats are an (8.7) 3* fundamental team who holds opponents to just 40% from the field and knocks down 78% from the stripe (the highest percentage of any Sweet 16 team). But, it says here that is not enough to put away this version of the Miami, FL Hurricanes, as coached by veteran mentor Larranaga. For, Miami may have the best trio of guards that remain in the NCAA field. In PG Rodriguez, who plays his best against the best, along with McClellan and Reed, the Canes can go toe-to-toe with anyone in this field. Combined with defender/rebounder Murphy and big man, Jekiri, patrolling the paint, Miami is one of the hidden gems in the Field of 16. ACC pedigree in the underdog role an aided advantage for Miami!

    ‘Anaheim, CA’

    Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma (-2-) 7:35 ET TBS TV
    The month of March is filled with miraculous comebacks and improbable upsets. Most of them are authored by underdogs. That’s why Sunday’s Texas A&M victory was more than just another in a long line of late-season comeback wins. For, the Aggies trailed by 12 points with 40 seconds remaining before closing on a 14-2 game ending run to force OT against up-start, N. Iowa. Eventually, it took double OT before the Aggies could prevail. They did so only when fouling out the 3 N. Iowa seniors, who provided scoring and leadership for the Panthers. Now, we are faced with the handicapper’s conundrum of momentum or letdown. Do the Aggies use that comeback win to propel them to further heights? Or does the letdown occur with the subconscious dominating the mindset that they really didn’t deserve the victory? Despite the fact the Aggies are a(10.7) 3* fundamental team (Oklahoma is not), we will opt for the latter with Oklahoma on full alert after the Aggies’ miracle comeback. Yet, clearly not overconfident with the realization that they squeezed out their own wins with an (82-68) (closer than the final score) victory over Baker, followed by an (85-81) escape vs. VCU on Sunday. With a record of 6-19 ATS on the trot and failing to cover a game since a victory on February 24th against Oklahoma St., it is clear there is plenty of value in today’s line. In a one-on-one battle with Danuel House, we’ll put our money on Player of the Year, Buddy Hield, and the coaching of Lon Kruger over Billy Kennedy to get this Sweet 16 victory and advance to Elite 8.


    Sports Cheetah

    5% Oklahoma -2
    (*good to -3)


    ‘South Region Sweet 16’ betting preview

    No. 3 Miami-Florida Hurricanes vs. No. 2 Villanova Wildcats (-4, 140.5)

    Game to be played at KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY

    Villanova was one of the more impressive teams over the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, while Miami (Fla.) squeaked out a pair of victories en route to the Sweet 16. The South Region opponents square off Friday in Louisville with a berth in the Elite 8 on the line.

    The second-seeded Wildcats and third-seeded Hurricanes are barely distinguishable on the seed line, but their play last weekend left a clear difference between the two programs. Villanova topped UNC Asheville by 30 points before putting up 54 first-half points in a comfortable 19-point triumph against Iowa. Meanwhile, Miami nipped Buffalo and Wichita State by a combined 11 points behind two big performances from senior guard Angel Rodriguez. The Wildcats also got a lift from their senior guard last weekend, as Ryan Arcidiacono eyes another strong effort after averaging 15 points on 10-of-15 shooting (including 6-of-9 from the arc) in the first two rounds.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CBS

    Villanova opened as five-point favorites and was bet down to -4 by mid-week. The total debuted at 141.5 and dropped slightly to 140.5. Check out the complete line history here.

    “We had Miami sitting at +4.5 with just over 40 percent of the action to cover the spread on Monday. We have since gone to Villanova -4 with 57 percent of the action on Villanova to cover. We opened the total at 142.5 with over 90 percent of the early action on the over Monday. We have since moved the total down to 141 with some sharp action coming in on the Under.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming.

    ABOUT MIAMI (27-7, 19-13-1 ATS, 16-17 O/U):
    Rodriguez has the look of the classic college basketball senior point guard who simply won’t let his team lose, having compiled 52 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and seven steals in the first two games “He has great confidence in himself, and when he’s focused, he has the ability to play at a very, very high level,” coach Jim Larranaga said of Rodriguez, who averages 12.6 points, trailing only backcourt mate Sheldon McClellan among the team leaders. “His biggest challenge is he needs competition. When the competition is at its highest, he’s at his best.” McClellan has averaged 19 points in this tournament, although fellow senior Tonye Jekiri (7.8 points, 8.7 rebounds) has been limited to a total of seven points and 10 boards in two games.

    ABOUT VILLANOVA (31-5, 17-17-1 ATS, 18-16-1 O/U):
    The Wildcats followed their regular formula against Iowa, as their four top scorers all registered double-digit points – and combined for eight 3-pointers – while big man Daniel Ochefu took care of the rebounding (11) and the shot-blocking (three). “We definitely can go all the way as long as we stick to what we do,” said Arcidiacono, who averages 12 points, putting him behind Josh Hart (15.4) and Kris Jenkins (13.3) on the squad. Hart, Jenkins, Arcidiacono and freshman Jalen Brunson have combined to take nearly 700 3-pointers this season and each shoots at least 35 percent from the 3-point line, not to mention at least 74 percent from the foul line, as well.


    * Miami is 4-1 ATS in its last five games versus a team with a winning percentage above .600.
    * Villanova is 1-5 ATS in their last six versus Atlantic Coast conference opponents.
    * Over is 9-2 in Miami’s last 11 NCAA Tournament games.
    * Over is 8-1 in Wildcats last nine games following a SU win.


    1. Awaiting the winner in the Elite Eight is No. 1 seed Kansas or fifth-seeded Maryland. Miami is hoping to reach the Elite 8 for the first time in school history, while Villanova last reached that round en route to the Final Four in 2009.

    2. The Hurricanes are 10-13 all-time against the Wildcats, although the teams have not met since 2004.

    3. Opponents are shooting 36.4 percent against Miami in the tournament, although Villanova presents a different challenge after shooting 58.6 percent in its first two games, including nearly 49 percent from the 3-point line.

    PREDICTION: Villanova 68, Miami 63

    Championship Odds

    Kansas – 5/2

    Villanova – 12/1

    Miami (Florida) – 30/1

    Maryland – 25/1


    ‘West Region Sweet 16’ betting preview

    No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies vs. No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (-2.5, 146)

    Game to be played at Honda Center, Anaheim, CA.

    Texas A&M completed the greatest comeback in college basketball history to reach the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, and Thursday the third-seeded Aggies will try to maintain their momentum against No. 2 Oklahoma in the West Region game at Honda Center in Anaheim. Texas A&M rallied from 12 points down in the final 35 seconds before defeating Northern Iowa in overtime last weekend, earning a Sweet Sixteen matchup against its former Big 12 rival.

    The Sooners are making their second straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen after losing to Michigan State in this round last season. Four players who started that game have started the last 102 for Oklahoma; Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler and Jordan Woodard, each of whom has also scored at least 1,000 points in their respective careers. Hield, the two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, comes in averaging 25.4 points–second in the nation and tops among power 5 schools–and the 6-foot-4 senior guard has produced 63 points in the first two games of this tournament. Danuel House doesn’t want his college career to end Thursday either, so expect the 6-7 forward for Texas A&M to continue playing at a high level, something he’s done while averaging 24.7 points over the last three games.

    TV: 7:37 p.m. ET, TBS

    The point spread opened at -1.5 in favor of the higher seeded Sooners and the public hit that number hard early in the week which forced the books to bump the line up to -2.5. The total opened at 145 and was bet up slightly to 146. Check out the complete line history here.

    “We opened Oklahoma as a -2 point favorite with over 90 percent of the early action on the Sooners to cover. We are now sitting at Oklahoma -3 with over 85 percent of the action on Oklahoma to cover. Our total of 146.5 is getting 85 perent of the action on the OVER.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming.

    ABOUT TEXAS A&M (28-8, 16-13-2 ATS, 14-17 O/U):
    The Aggies can’t expect point guard Alex Caruso to score another 20-something points and more than triple his scoring average, as he did in the win against Northern Iowa, but demanding strong performances from their starting front court of Jalen Jones and Tyler Davis shouldn’t be a stretch. Both match up well against Spangler and fellow Oklahoma big man Khadeem Lattin, who haven’t been tested in a while. Jones, a 6-7 forward who’s second on the team in scoring (15.4) and leads in rebounding (7.1), should take advantage of his quickness off the floor and the 6-10, 265-pound Davis will have a size advantage and regularly scores in double figures as well.

    ABOUT OKLAHOMA (27-7, 12-20 ATS, 15-17 O/U):
    The Sooners will undoubtedly counter with their 3-point shooting proficiency, as they enter this game at 42.5 percent from beyond the arc this season, which is second best in the nation, and shot 41.3 in the two games last weekend in Oklahoma City. Hield was fourth in the nation in 3-point attempts (274) during the regular season and 20th in 3-point percentage (46.4), but opponents have been making it harder for him to beat them from deep the last several weeks. Hield made at least half of his 3-point attempts in 16 of the first 20 games, but only shot 50 percent or better once in the last 14 contests.


    * Texas A&M is 0-8 ATS in its last eight games after scoring more than 90 points in its last game.
    * Oklahoma is 1-7 ATS in their last eight NCAA Tournament games.
    * Over is 5-0 in Texas A&M’s last five games versus a team with a winning percentage above .600.
    * Under is 11-3 in the last 14 meetings.


    1. Oklahoma’s all-time record for 3-point field goal percentage in a season is 41.4 in 1986-87.

    2. Hield has scored at least 30 points 13 times in his career, which is tied with Michael Beasley (Kansas State) for the most in Big 12 history.

    3. The Sooners have won 31 of the 41 meetings.

    PREDICTION: Texas A&M 76, Oklahoma 72

    Championship Odds

    Oregon – 12/1

    Oklahoma – 9/1

    Texas A&M – 20/1

    Duke – 20/1


    ‘West Region Sweet 16’ betting preview

    No. 4 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 1 Oregon Ducks (-3, 156.5)

    Game to be played at Honda Center, Anaheim, CA

    Oregon has matched a school record for wins in a season, but anything short of a trip to the Final Four will rate as a disappointment for the top-seeded Ducks, who face No. 4 seed Duke in the NCAA Tournament West Region semifinal Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. The Blue Devils are trying to become the first team to win back-to-back national titles since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

    The Ducks’ title hopes have new life, as they trailed by seven with five minutes remaining before rallying to beat No. 8 seed St. Joseph’s 69-64 on Sunday, avoiding becoming the first No. 1 seed to bow out of this year’s tournament. The Blue Devils know the feeling of flirting with disaster – they allowed No. 13 seed UNC Wilmington to hang around for most of their first-round matchup and squandered most of a 23-point halftime lead before holding off 12th-seeded Yale 71-64 on Saturday. “Our house is on a cliff, and we hope it doesn’t rain,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters. “That’s who we’ve been, and so I really have an appreciation for that.” It’s only the second meeting between the programs with Duke winning the first, 98-71 in Portland in 2010.

    TV: 10:07 p.m. ET, TBS

    The point spread for this game opened at -1.5 on the side of the no. 1 ranked team in the region. The public felt this number wasn’t high enough and forced the books to move their initial line up to -3. The total opened at 156.5 and has been steady all week. Check out the complete line history here.

    “We opened Oregon as a -2.5 point favorite and all the early action was on the Ducks to cover that number. We are now up to Oregon -3.5 with just over 65 percent of the action on the Ducks to cover. The 156.5 total is seeing a slight edge towards the OVER, with 51 percent of wagers on it.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming.

    ABOUT DUKE (25-10, 14-18-2 ATS, 15-19 O/U):
    The Blue Devils have evolved significantly since losing star big man Amile Jefferson to a broken foot in December. They now rely heavily on their outside shooting, and when they’re hitting from the perimeter it can mask other shortcomings – like a 42-28 deficit on the boards against Yale. Leading scorer Grayson Allen (21.8 points), standout freshman Brandon Ingram (17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds) and junior guard Matt Jones (10.5 points) all can light it up from outside, but the Blue Devils also need 7-footer Marshall Plumlee (8.4 points, 8.7 rebounds) to be effective in the post to pull off the upset.

    ABOUT OREGON (30-6, 20-13 ATS, 15-18 O/U):
    The Ducks are extremely efficient at the offensive end with point guard Casey Benson (5.9 points, 4.7-to-1 assists-to-turnovers) spreading the wealth among a quartet of double-digit scorers. The frontcourt does much of the damage – a potential matchup problem for Duke – with forwards Dillon Brooks (16.8 points, 5.6 rebounds) and Elgin Cook (14.5 points, 5.1 rebounds) leading the way. The Ducks also defend the post well, but their perimeter defense has been suspect at times, which they can’t afford against an excellent 3-point shooting Duke team.


    * Duke is 7-1 ATS in its last eight NCAA Tournament games.
    * Oregon a 0-4 ATS in their last four versus Atlantic Coast conference opponents.
    * Under is 7-1 in Duke’s last eight games following a SU win.
    * Over is 4-1 in Ducks last five non-conference games


    1. Krzyzewski (90) has more NCAA Tournament wins than any coach in history.

    2. Oregon is 25-0 when leading at halftime.

    3. The Ducks have blocked a school-record 214 shots, led by F Chris Boucher’s school-record 109 swats.

    PREDICTION: Oregon 75, Duke 71


    ‘South Region Sweet 16’ betting preview

    No. 5 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (-6.5, 143.5)

    Top-seeded Kansas roared through the opening week of the NCAA Tournament and attempts to post its 17th consecutive victory on Thursday when it faces fifth-seeded Maryland in the Sweet 16 at Louisville, Ky. The Jayhawks are looking to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2012, while the Terrapins are part of the Sweet 16 for the initial time since 2003.

    The Jayhawks lost their second game in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments and this year’s squad has had the Final Four as a goal since the start of the campaign. “These last couple years we’ve been bounced a little bit early, and it’s definitely left a bad taste in our mouth as a team,” senior forward Jamari Traylor said at Wednesday’s press conference. “We’re just more focused. Every possession matters. We’re just more in tune, more of a tight-knit group.” Maryland is thriving under coach Mark Turgeon – a former Kansas player and assistant coach – and senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon feels his team is primed to knock off the Jayhawks. “I think it’s just going to come down to how each team executes their game plan,” Sulaimon said at Wednesday’s press conference. “It’s going to be a heavyweight battle between two great teams, between two great coaches. I’m sure they have a great game plan for us and we have a great game plan for them.”

    TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, CBS

    The no. 1 seeded Jayhawks opened as seven-point favorites and the spread has dropped slightly down to -6.5. The total opened at 146 and has been bet down to 143.5. Check out the complete line history here.

    “We opened Kansas as a -7 point favorite and took over 85 percent of the early action on the Jayhawks to cover the -7 points. With the action starting to come in on Maryland we have moved to Kansas -6.5 with just over 60 percent of the action to cover the spread. Our 144 point total is getting dead even action with 50 percent on the over/under.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming.

    ABOUT MARYLAND (27-8, 16-17-1 ATS, 13-20-1 O/U):
    Guard Melo Trimble is averaging 21.5 points in NCAA tourney wins over South Dakota State and Hawaii but the sophomore who leads the squad in scoring (14.8) and assists (five per game) is a streaky outside shooter despite sharing the team lead of 57 3-pointers with senior forward Jake Layman (11.7). “I’m a confident player,” Trimble said at the Maryland press conference. “If I miss one, I’ll shoot the next one. It’s supposed to be a short memory. When you’re having fun, you don’t worry about the misses. You keep shooting and do whatever it takes to help your team win.” Joining Trimble and Layman as double-digit scorers are freshman center Diamond Stone (12.7), junior forward Robert Carter (12.4 points, team-best seven rebounds per game) and Suliamon (11.1).

    ABOUT KANSAS (32-4, 23-11 ATS, 13-20-1 O/U):
    Junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. is putting the ugly performances of the past two NCAA tourneys behind him – he averaged 2.5 points on 4-of-21 shooting in four games – to average 18 points on 13-of-25 shooting in victories over Austin Peay and Connecticut. “Everybody’s going to go through times where everything’s not going well,” Selden said at the Kansas press conference. “Nobody’s perfect, but it’s all about just getting through it. If you’re winning at that time, it doesn’t matter.” Senior forward Perry Ellis leads the Jayhawks in scoring (16.9) and is followed by Selden (13.6), junior guard Frank Mason III (12.8 points, team-best 4.6 assists) and sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham (11.4).


    * Maryland is 1-4 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
    * Kansas is 8-1 ATS in their last nine neutral site games.
    * Under is 7-1 in Maryland’s last eight games following an ATS win.
    * Under is 25-7 in Jayhawk’s last 32 NCAA Tournament games.


    1. Kansas holds a 3-2 series edge but the Terrapins won the last meeting 97-88 in the 2002 Final Four en route to winning the national championship.

    2. Ellis scored 21 points in each of the Jayhawks’ two NCAA victories and was 17-of-24 shooting.

    3. Layman is averaging 18.5 points on 11-of-19 shooting in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

    PREDICTION: Kansas 82, Maryland 75


    Sweet 16 Stats & Angles
    By ASA

    No. 3 Miami, Fl. vs. No. 2 Villanova (CBS, 7:10 p.m. ET)

    — Villanova had the highest combined margin of victory of any team in the field in the first 2 rounds at +49 points (vs Iowa & UNC Asheville)

    — Nova had 8 players average double digit minutes in first 2 rounds with nobody topping 31 minutes in either game

    — Miami is 129-89 ATS as an underdog since 1997

    — 22% of Miami’s points this year have come from the FT line which is the highest percentage remaining the in field – the Canes shoot 75% from the line

    No. 3 Texas A&M vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (TBS, 7:37 p.m. ET)

    — Oklahoma relies on the 3-pointer more than any other team remaining with 38.6% of their points this year coming from deep

    — Texas A&M starts 4 seniors however NOBODY on their team had ever played in an NCAA tourney game before this season

    — The Sooners have the 2nd highest 3-point % in College BB this season at 42.5%

    — Oklahoma has played in 6 NCAA tournament games the last 3 seasons covering the spread just once

    — OU coach Lon Kruger has coached in 5 Sweet 16’s. This will be A&M coach Billy Kennedy’s first.

    No. 5 Maryland vs. No. 1 Kansas (CBS, 9:40 p.m. ET)

    — Over the last 12 games, Maryland guard Melo Trimble has made only 32% of his shots and just 26% from beyond the arc

    — Kansas is 21-10 ATS as a favorite this season

    — The Jayhawks have won 24 of their last 28 games (straight up) when facing a team with a winning record

    — KU coach Bill Self has an NCAA tourney record of 39-16 (70%). Maryland coach Mark Turgeon is just 8-6 lifetime in the Big Dance

    No. 4 Duke vs. No. 1 Oregon (TBS, 9:57 p.m. ET)

    — Duke turns the ball over less than any team remaining at just 14% – 5th nationally

    — The Ducks have 7 players averaging 21+ minutes this season

    — Duke’s coach Krzyzewski is an amazing 90-26 (77%) in the NCAA tournament which is the most wins for any coach AND the highest win percentage for those who have coached at least 10 games in the Big Dance

    — Oregon’s Dana Altman is 8-11 (42%) in NCAA tournament games

    — The Total has gone UNDER every time Duke has been tabbed an underdog this year (6 UNDERS, 0 OVERS)

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