In the final sector of first round games, five teams with seeds five or higher are in action. Just five years ago or slightly more, the higher seeds were strictly play against, as oddsmakers loaded the points on the chalk, trying to bait the public into p
In the final sector of first round games, five teams with seeds five or higher are in action. Just five years ago or slightly more, the higher seeds were strictly play against, as oddsmakers loaded the points on the chalk, trying to bait the public into paying dearly for heavy favorites. Yet in the last several seasons, people got wise and took the points with over-stuffed dogs and cashed a number of winners along the way. This has forced Sportsbook.com oddsmakers to produce a truer number on the higher seeds, which in turn has made picking winners that much more challenging. What will tonight bring?
(1)Duke vs (16) Arkansas Pine Bluff
The Blue Devils are being talked about in some circles as a viable option as a championship game participant. That is not exactly ďman bites dog materialĒ given Duke is the top seed in the South, but they are far and away the quietest No. 1 squad coach Mike Krzyzewski has ever had. Sports bettors have paid attention and have been betting the Blue Devils up significantly to 23-point favs at Sportsbook.com.
Duke has kept getting better as the season trudged on. Coach K knew what to expect from Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and for the most part Lance Thomas. As the season continued, the Hall of Fame coach found ways to place Thomas in more productive offensive situations, the Plumlee brothers became ripe as a plum, playing with increased confidence and making Duke a force on the glass. If senior Brian Zoubek continues to march forward (averaging 10.1 boards in last 10 games), no reason the Dukies canít improve to 6-2 ATS when favored by 13 or more since Dec. 15.
By now, most are familiar with the fact that Arkansas Pine-Bluff lost its first 11 games of the season, all on the road against mostly formidable competition. To their credit the Gold Lions showed heart and have won 18 of last 22. AR-PB isnít going to knock off Duke, but they could cover the spot if they can continue to maintain +6 rebound margin.
(1)Syracuse vs (16) Vermont
The Orangemen are a 17-point choice and need to start fast to regain their swagger after losing their last two trips to the hardwood. Syracuse needs an infusion of confidence getting Wesley Johnson started and pounding the ball inside to whomever is on the court to open up shooting lanes. Dating back 13 years, the Orange are 7-0 ATS off two or more consecutive losses as a favorite.
Vermont wonít be a pushover, as they hold teams to only 39.7 percent shooting. The Catamounts have had time to breakdown workings of Syracuseís 2-3 zone and must have top notch efforts from Marqus Blakely (two-time America East Player of the Year), Maurice Joseph and Evan Fjeld. Itís interesting to note despite Vermont not having many games showing up on big boards for bettors, they are 8-0 ATS after playing a game as favorite.
(2)Ohio State vs (15) UC-Santa Barbara
Sports talk personality Jim Rome called UCSB ďthe most dangerous 15th seed everĒ, of course that was a whimsical quote having attended the university several years ago. The Gauchos will find out just how good they are against one of the best starting fiveís in the tournament in Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have Evan Turner, as good a place to start as there is the country. Review these numbers. Ohio State is 21-4 and 17-10-1 ATS with Turner (0-6 ATS without him). His presence helps the other players get better shots and the Buckeyes are 26-2 and 17-11-1 ATS when they connect on a higher shooting percentage than opposing club. The magic number for the Buckeyes is 70, as they are 20-1 and 15-5-1 ATS when they reach that barrier and being a 17.5-point favorite with total of 132.5, suggests a 71-52 final score.
UC-Santa Barbara is presumed to put up a good fight; however they are 10-25 ATS versus solid shooting teams making 48 percent or more of their shots.
(4)Maryland vs. (13) Houston
The Terps will have a gi-nourmous edge in facing Houston. Maryland has played 20 minutes of full effort basketball since March 6, the second half in their loss in the ACC quarterfinals against Georgia Tech. The Terrapins played like turtles, moving in slow motion against the Yellow Jackets in the first half and were deservedly beaten.
Houston on the other hand played four games in four days, which is what was needed to make a first NCAA entrance in 18 years. The Cougars have to stay hotter than an August afternoon in Houston to win their fifth consecutive game. Houston heated up UTEP in the C-USA championship game with 12 treys, the 13th time this season they have drilled 10 or more deep tosses. Coach Tom Pendersí teams usually take care of the ball and are 20-6 ATS away from home after a game committing eight or less turnovers.
Marylandís Gary Williams club is a 9.5-point favorite and they need to shake off last game as bad effort, figuring they were due, after knocking off seven straight opponents and posting an 8-3 ATS record in previous 11. The Terps defense can swallow up the best of offenses, holding teams to 38.8 percent and they are also 7-1 ATS versus good ball handling teams committing 14 or fewer turnovers in the second half of this season.
(5)Michigan State vs (12) New Mexico State
The Spartans are favored by 13.5 points over New Mexico State and will cover this handily if they listen to their coach and start putting in the kind of effort that took them to the national championship game a season ago. While itís true Michigan State lacks a true center, that is not a requirement for the Aggies. New Mexico likes to motor up and down the floor, but defense is not in fashion in Las Cruces, as they concede 77.8 points per game (while scoring 78.6 PPG) and allow foes to ring up 46.7 percent shooting away from southern New Mexico. The Spartans are 21-8 ATS away from East Lansing when they score 75 to 80 points.
If Michigan State continues to be sloppy with the ball (14 turnovers a game), it could have a game on its hands. The Aggies are not a so-called mid-major that holds the ball and tries to limit possessions to slow down superior opponent; these guys are athletes and like to run. Guard Jahmar Young is a creator and an All-WAC performer at 20.5 points per game. His running mate is Jonathan Gibson and the duo combines for an average of 38 points per contest. New Mexico State wants to play fast and is 8-1 ATS after two or more Underís. Tthe Spartans are 0-7 ATS as a neutral court favorite of 12.5 to 15 points.
Click here to read latest College Basketball news