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NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

Early Research for Saturday
By Indiancowboy

UCLA vs. Villanova

What a game this is to be. UCLA had very tough competition in round 1 vs. a very good VCU team who if they had not made countless mistakes early, could have won this game. Or, the fact they miss many FT's they would be 1 round further. Maynor is a stud btw. Villanova had their hands full against American but was able to pull through late. I actually like UCLA here given their coaching and methodical way of moving along in a game. But, again, can easily go both ways.

Western Kentucky vs. Gonzaga

I think Gonzaga has their hands full today. This WKy team is experienced from last year's tourney experience and this team is not happy to be here - they expect to be here. A lot of points to be tossed at Wky here although Gonzaga had a horrible first half against Akron and will look to establish themselves early. Wky will also have tougher competition than a "Frasier-less" Illinois team.

Michigan vs. Oklahoma

The biggest public play on the board today is Oklahoma. Oklahoma looked impressive in their first game, but Michigan is playing well. They took down Clemson and I can see them giving Oklahoma fits all day today as well. I like how Coach B has his boys play, I'm still not sold on Oklahoma.

Texas vs. Duke

Let me start by saying that I think Duke has a cake walk in many ways to the Sweet 16. Texas played well against Minnesota, but Minny was in most of that game. I wish it was Minny and that defense that was facing them as they would give Duke fits. It's hard for me to lean on Texas, they depend too much on the outside shot of Abrhams. I can see this either way. The public is split.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

Saturday's Early Action
By Brian Edwards

The 65-team field will be down to 32 going into Saturday’s afternoon action. Gamblers are loving life with an outstanding Villanova-UCLA showdown tipping off the festivities at 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

That game will stand on its own, followed by a pair of games that’ll start at 3:20 and 3:35. Those contests are Memphis-Maryland and UConn-Texas A&M.

Can the 10th-seeded Terrapins take out the Tigers? Will the red-hot Aggies send the first No. 1 seed packing? Let’s take an in-depth look at these matchups.

**UCLA vs. Villanova**

--The Pac 10 and Big East will square off in this 3/6 matchup from the East region at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. The winner advances to the Sweet 16 to face the Duke-Texas winner.

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Villanova (27-7 straight up, 16-14 against the spread) as a two-point favorite with a total of 146. As of early Friday night, most books had ‘Nova at 1 ½ with the total lowered to 145.

--Jay Wright’s team got all it wanted in its first-round win over American. The Wildcats trailed by 10 at intermission and by as much as 14 in the second half. They didn’t go in front until Dwayne Anderson buried a 3-pointer for a 55-52 lead with 6:21 left. From there, ‘Nova pulled away for an 80-67 victory, but the Eagles took the cash as 15-point underdogs.

--Anderson and Dante Cunningham finished with 25 points apiece in the win over American. Corey Fisher chipped in with 11 points off the bench. Scottie Reynolds, the team’s playmaking point guard, was shaky with four turnovers compared to two assists and just eight points on 2-of-7 shooting.

--UCLA (26-8 SU, 16-16-1 ATS) survived a game effort from VCU and collected a 65-64 victory in Thursday’s first-round game. Ben Howland’s team led by 11 at intermission, but VCU’s Eric Maynor rallied his team to within one and had a chance to win when his shot at the horn was off the mark. The Rams covered the number as 8 ½-point underdogs. Josh Shipp had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Bruins, who are attempting to make their fourth consecutive appearance in the Final Four.

--I called out UCLA’s Darren Collison before the VCU game, suggesting that Maynor would eat him alive. I wasn’t wrong by any means, but I do need to give Collison credit for his defense on the game’s final play. His strong contest forced Maynor into a difficult look. Collison finished with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting, dishing out only two assists compared to three turnovers. Maynor had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds. (For the record, my distaste for Collison stems from him essentially saying ‘uncle’ and fouling out on purpose with nearly three minutes left of last year’s Final Four loss to Memphis.)

--‘Nova owns a 7-4 spread record in 11 games as a single-digit favorite. Meanwhile, the Bruins have only been underdogs twice, going 1-1 ATS.

--Although the ‘under’ has cashed in each of its last three games, the ‘over’ still maintains a lucrative 21-12 overall record in UCLA games.

--Totals have been a wash (15-15) for ‘Nova overall, but the ‘over’ is on a 3-1 run in its last four games.

--These schools haven’t met since 2002 when ‘Nova won a 58-57 decision as a one-point favorite.

--Tip-off is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

**Maryland vs. Memphis**

--LVSC opened Memphis (32-3 SU, 22-12 ATS) as a nine-point favorite with a total of 134. As of Friday night, the number was still nine but the total was adjusted to 132. The Terps are plus-350 on the money line (risk $100 to win $350).

--Maryland (21-13 SU, 16-10-2 ATS) advanced to the second round by beating California 84-71 as a 1 ½-point underdog. Greivis Vasquez paced the winners with 27 points, five rebounds and four assists.

--Like Villanova against American, John Calipari’s squad had plenty of anxious moments in a nip-and-tuck slugfest against Cal-St. Northridge in the first round. In fact, there were nine ties and 13 lead changes before Memphis pulled away for an 81-70 win as a 20-point ‘chalk.’ Roburt Sallie, averaging just 4.5 point per game coming into the tournament, erupted for a career-high 35 points on 12-of-17 shooting. He drained 10-of-15 shots from 3-point range and finished with four rebounds, three steals, one assist and zero turnovers. Tyreke Evans had 15 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals.

--I guess we can give Gary Williams his genius card back, right? Williams came under heavy scrutiny early in the season after a home loss to Morgan St. and losing by more than 40 at Duke. Nevertheless, he has the Terps dancing again and with a shot to get back to the Sweet 16. And last time I checked, he still has a national-title ring to sport when he feels like it.

--Williams can thank Vasquez for this team’s success. The junior point guard is averaging 17.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

--In case you’re wondering, Memphis hasn’t improved much at the free-throw line. The Tigers were 12-of-21 (57.1%) at the charity stripe against the Matadors.

--Maryland has been a money maker as an underdog this year, compiling a 10-6 spread record in 16 such spots.

--Memphis is 2-4 ATS in six games as a single-digit ‘chalk.’

--The ‘under’ is 16-11-1 overall for the Terps.

--The ‘under’ had cashed in eight consecutive Memphis games before the ‘over’ hit in its win over CS-Northridge. For the season, the Tigers have watched the ‘under’ go 22-12 overall.

--Tip-off at the Sprint Center in Kansas City is slated for 3:20 p.m. Eastern.

**Connecticut vs. Texas A&M**

--Most books are listing UConn (28-4 SU, 12-14 ATS) as a 10-point favorite with a total of 139. The Aggies are plus-500 on the money line.

--Texas A&M (24-9 SU, 16-9 ATS) has won seven of its last eight games, including Thursday’s 79-66 first-round win over BYU as a three-point underdog. Bettors (like me) who backed A&M on the money line earned a plus-130 payout. Bryan Davis was the catalyst with 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.

--Jim Calhoun was hospitalized on Thursday for dehydration and missed his team’s dominant 103-47 win over Chattanooga as a 20-point favorite. Stanley Robinson scored a team-high 24 points, while Jeff Adrien finished with 13 points, 16 rebounds and four assists. Hasheem Thabeet and A.J. Price added 20 points apiece.

--Mark Turgeon’s team has covered the number in seven of its last nine games. The Aggies have been particularly effective in roles as underdogs, cashing in seven straight such situations and 10 of 13 for the year.

--With Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado out of the Tournament, Thabeet is the premier shot blocker remaining in the field. The 7’3” center changes more shots than he blocks and limits foes from coming into the paint with confidence.

--The ‘over’ has cashed in five straight games for the Aggies and seven of their last eight. However, the ‘over’ is just 13-12 overall for the season.

--Tip-off at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia is scheduled for 3:35 p.m. ET.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--A tip of the cap to East Tennessee St., which gave top-seeded Pitt all it wanted for 38 minutes before the Panthers pulled away late for a 72-62 win. The Bucs easily took the cash as 21-point underdogs.

--What if ETSU had made its free throws? The Bucs were an abysmal 12-of-24 from the charity stripe.

--West Virginia is the only Big East team to be eliminated so far.

--LSU is all that’s left of the SEC after Tennessee went down in a nail-biter against Oklahoma St. Speaking of the Vols, they had some of the worst possible possessions I’ve ever seen a team have in a

--I didn’t realize that Missouri has never been to the Final Four.

Editor's note: Brian Edwards cleaned house during Thursday's first-round games, posting a 5-2 record with a pair of money-line winners! Brian has picks galore available today for both the NIT and NCAA Tournaments, including this pay-if-it-wins-only selection!

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

Saturday's Late-Night Action
By Chris David

**No. 12 Western Kentucky vs. No. 4 Gonzaga**

The second game on Saturday from Portland’s Rose Garden features a South Regional battle between Western Kentucky (25-8 SU, 17-13 ATS) and Gonzaga (27-5 SU, 15-14 ATS). opened the Bulldogs as 10 ½-point favorites, while the total is hovering between 143 and 144 points. The number seems fair, considering the Gonzaga faithful will be out and about in the Great Northwest.

“The line says a lot,” said VI handicapper Pat Hawkins. “WKU is much better than its seed. This is a team that beat Louisville during the regular season. They have experience and have been here before. Still, why are they catching double digits? Probably because this is arguably the most talented Gonzaga team we’ve seen.”

W. Kentucky was one of four underdogs to win outright in Thursday’s first round. The school held off Illinois 74-70, which kept the tradition of the 12-seed upsetting the No. 5 seed in the tournament. WKU cashed tickets on the money-line at a price of plus-170 (Bet $100 to win $170).

The Hilltopppers have been golden for gamblers lately. The victory in the first round was their eighth in a row, and more importantly it was their sixth consecutive cover against the number.

WKU controlled the game right from the start, but still needed to hit clutch free throws at the end to seal it. Against Illinois, the Hilltoppers struggled from the charity stripe with a dreadful 13-of-22 (59%) performance.

Reaching the Sweet Sixteen won’t be unfamiliar for WKU, who accomplished the feat last year. Again as a No. 12 seed, the Hilltoppers defeated Drake and San Diego before bowing out against top-seed UCLA. The school covered all three games during their run.

Gonzaga advanced to this matchup by defeating Akron 77-64. Despite trailing 38-35 at halftime, the Bulldogs busted out in the final 20 minutes and actually had a shot to cover as 14-point favorites. Unfortunately, backers were backdoored with a meaningless free throw at the end that watched the Zags fail to cover. The Bulldogs shot 52 percent from the field and drilled 26-of-31 (84%) free throw attempts as well.

The victory for head coach Mark Few and Gonzaga was their 10th in a row and nine of them have come by double digits. The team has gone 5-4 ATS during this stretch.

Thursday’s win for Gonzaga also snapped a two-game first round losing streak in the NCAA Tournament for the school. Last year, the Zags lost to Davidson and two years ago to Indiana. Gonzaga has reached the second round seven times in school history and wound up reaching the Sweet Sixteen four times.

WKU (5-1) and Gonzaga (7-1) have both been solid bets on neutral courts this year. The ‘under’ is on a 4-1 run for the Hilltoppers, but the ‘over’ has gone 7-2 in the last nine games for the Zags.

Tip-off from the Rose Garden is set for 8:10 p.m. EDT. The winner will meet the winner of North Carolina and LSU in Memphis next weekend.

**No. 7 Texas vs. No. 2 Duke**

The last game on Saturday’s card features an East Regional battle from Greensboro Coliseum between Texas (23-11 SU, 12-18 ATS) and Duke (29-6 SU, 16-16 ATS). Even though the Blue Devils have the more known basketball program, the Longhorns have been more successful in the tournament recently. Recently, Texas has earned trips to five Sweet 16’s, two Elite Eights and reached the Final Four in 2003.

Penciling Duke into your Sweet 16 pool used to be automatic, watching coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils make nine straight trips to the regional semifinals from 1998 to 2006. However, they’ve come up short the past two years.

Duke’s weakness is its lack of size and some pundits believe Texas has the ability to control the boards in this matchup. Looking at the opening number (Duke -7) it makes you believe the oddsmakers agree.

“Texas is a team that a lot of people forgot about this year,” said VI handicapper Jason Johnson. “Rick Barnes’ club didn’t have a good regular season and went unnoticed in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. If you look at their non-conference schedule, it shows that they can play with victories over UCLA, Villanova, Wisconsin and a tough loss to Michigan State too.”

The Longhorns are loaded up front with Damion James and Dexter Pittman. The duo combined for 35 points in the team’s 76-62 win over Minnesota on Thursday, but it was guard A.J. Abrams that stole the show with 26 points. The school covered as a five-point ‘chalk’ and the combined 138 points easily went ‘over’ the closing number of 126.

Most would expect Duke to play small ball and keep James and Pittman outside the paint, which would probably force Texas to zone up and not get the big guys in foul trouble. If they go zone, then the Blue Devils will have plenty of attempts to drain the long ball, which is what they did in the first round against Binghamton.

Duke shot 49 percent from the field and drilled nine 3-pointers en route to an 86-62 win over the Bearcats. Jon Scheyer led six players in double figures with 15 points. Most of the team’s in the ACC like to run ‘n gun but Duke is one of the few that puts defense first. The defense is giving up 65.5 PPG, which has helped the ‘under’ go 20-13.

Since the game is in Greensboro, North Carolina it’s practically a home game for Duke even though some UNC fans will probably be wearing Orange come Saturday. Still, the Blue Devils posted a 16-1 record at Cameron this year and were 7-0 in neutral court games. The Longhorns struggled to a 4-6 road ledger, but were 6-2 in neutral court encounters.

Texas might be a public ‘dog in this spot but bettors should be aware that the school was just 12-18 (40%) versus the number this year and is just 3-6-1 ATS in its last 10, which includes Thursday’s cover.

If past history holds true, then Duke will be advancing. The Blue Devils have won and covered three straight against Texas, winning by an average margin of 28.3 PPG.

Televised coverage from Greensboro is set 8:15 p.m. EDT. The winner will head to Boston next weekend for a showdown of the winner between Villanova and UCLA.

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Game of the day: Maryland Terrapins vs. Memphis Tigers
By Alex Smart

No. 10 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 2 Memphis Tigers

Line: Memphis (-9) 131.5

A little respect. Just a little

Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 65 teams in 1985, only four No. 15 seeds have knocked off a No. 2 seed in the first round. On Thursday, that number was very close to increasing to five.

Second seed Memphis, who many thought deserved a No. 1 next to its name, only held a three-point lead late in the second half against Big West tourney champion Cal State Northridge. Whether it was an overload of confidence or a simple shoulder shrug towards their opponent, the Tigers weren’t able to shake the Matadors until late in the second half.

“My job is to keep their swagger, but it moved into arrogance,” Memphis coach, John Calipari told reporters following the game.

Despite the apparent arrogance, Memphis never panicked and was able to right the ship down the stretch, connecting on seven of its last 10 shots while Northridge finished just 3-for-11.

“We were never scared. Scared is never in our minds. That's never a problem for us,” senior Antonio Anderson told the media.

Perhaps fear didn't come to play, but neither did Memphis.

As for fearing the turtle, Terps coach Gary Williams was just happy to receive a tournament bid. The 2002 national champs were one of the committee’s last four teams extended a bid to the dance, automatically sending a message to players and fans alike.

Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez took the news to heart. Rather than letting a No. 10 seed dictate his team’s next move, Vasquez went off for 27 points, five boards, four dimes, and a pair of steals. With the win, Maryland has now won nine consecutive first-round matchups.

Maybe now, "Fear the Turtle" can be said with a little more conviction.

Once a hero, always a hero

Vasquez, who collected just the third triple-double in Maryland history last month, improved his team-leading stat categories in the outright win as short underdogs (+1.5). The Columbia native leads Maryland in points, steals, rebounds and assists, as well as playing the role of vocal leader on the floor. Thursday in Kansas City, Vasquez again led MD in three of the four aforementioned stat categories. He even told the California crowd to shut their yaps a few times.

While not nearly as boisterous, Memphis relied on its star to guide the way to victory. Or did they?

Roburt Sallie, who averaged a paltry 4.5 points per game heading into the tournament, went off. He connected on 10 3-pointers and finished with a career high 35 points. Sallie’s 10-spot was good enough to earn him the first-round record for triples made.

"None of my teammates would ever expect me to score 35 points,” Sallie admitted to reporters. “I never made 10 3-pointers before."

If not for the sophomore, whose previous career high was a mere 13 points, Cal State Northridge would still be celebrating with its fans in Kansas City.

Ice cold is cooler than cool

For a team that loves getting up and down the floor like Memphis, Maryland’s pressure defense could cause fits. Just ask Cal. The Terps were downright disrespectful towards the nation’s best 3-point shooting school Thursday. California shot less than 30 percent from beyond the arc against Maryland, sinking just 7-of-24 3-pointers.

"We came into the game knowing we were going to pressure them the whole game,” Senior forward Dave Neal told the press. “We knew they would have a tough time with it."

Cal also forced 14 turnovers in the loss.

Maybe now, with an added and unsung threat in Sallie, the pressure is off of freshman Tyreke Evans (16.6 PPG) and senior Robert Dozier (12.8 PPG), who combined for only 21-points on 8-of-18 shooting Thursday afternoon.

"Tyreke Evans and Robert Dozier weren't as good as they usually are. But at this point, we're just trying to march on," Calipari said following the game.

Some advice for the Tigers: with March Madness underway, be aware of losing formation. If that happens, expect to see Vasquez fill up another box score and send Terps fans flocking to the airport for their Sweet 16 appearance in the desert.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

LSU vs. North Carolina, 5:45 ET
6-0 Over vs. non-conference
10-1 Over if favored L2 games

North Carolina:
2-8 ATS off cover as DD favorite
8-18 ATS off ATS win

Texas vs. Duke, 8:15 ET
9-24 ATS off BB Overs
2-9 ATS off ATS win

26-16 ATS off BB wins
9-0 Over on neutral court if total is 130 to 139.5

Texas A&M vs. UConn, 3:35 ET
Texas A&M:
10-3 ATS as an underdog
16-3 ATS Away on Saturday

8-23 ATS off BB games with 46+ rebounds
38-63 ATS Away off DD win

UCLA vs. Villanova, 1:05 ET

19-10 ATS off ATS loss
47-29 ATS when the line is +3 to -3

8-2 Under vs. non-conference
16-3 Under off 3+ ATS losses

Maryland vs. Memphis, 3:20 ET
11-4 Under off SU win
15-6 Under in tournament games

19-11 ATS as a favorite
12-4 Under off BB DD win

Michigan vs. Oklahoma, 5:50 ET
7-1 ATS vs. non-conference
8-0 ATS if underdog L2 games

8-2 Over off an Under
5-1 Over playing their 2nd game in 3 days

Purdue vs. Washington, 5:40 ET
8-15 ATS if favored last two games
49-78 ATS as an underdog

15-8 Over as favorite
8-2 Over playing with one or less days rest

Western Kentucky vs. Gonzaga, 8:10 ET
Western Kentucky:
15-1 ATS on a neutral court
8-1 Under when the total is 140 to 149.5

2-8 ATS when the total is 140 to 149.5
8-2 Under after scoring 75+ 4 straight games

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

Baylor is 4-12-1 ATS in its last 17 games
Baylor is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Virginia Tech is 18-6 SU in its last 24 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Virginia Tech's last 9 games at home

UCLA is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
UCLA is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
Villanova is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games
Villanova is 13-3 SU in its last 16 games

Maryland is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Maryland's last 8 games
Memphis is 12-5 ATS in its last 17 games
Memphis is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games

Texas A&M is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games
Texas A&M is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
Connecticut is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games
Connecticut is 17-3 SU in its last 20 games

Purdue is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games
Purdue is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Washington is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games

LSU is 12-3 SU in its last 15 games
North Carolina is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
North Carolina is 15-2 SU in its last 17 games

Michigan is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Michigan is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
Oklahoma is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games
Oklahoma is 16-4 SU in its last 20 games

Western Kentucky is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
Western Kentucky is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Gonzaga is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games

Texas is 1-3-1 ATS in its last 5 games
Texas is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
Duke is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games
Duke is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

Tips and Trends

West Region: #5 Purdue vs. #4 Washington

Purdue: Robbie Hummel has led the Boilermakers within a win of the Sweet 16 despite playing with a fractured back that still requires a small hard-shell brace during gamedays. Hummel was named the most outstanding player of the Big Ten tournament after totaling 48 points and 28 rebounds in three games, and he followed that up with nine points and 12 rebounds in a 61-56 win over Northern Iowa on Thursday. “I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t have any pain,” said Hummel.

Purdue is 11-4 ATS in its last 15 Saturday games.
The OVER is 7-2 in Purdue's last 9 games as an underdog.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 71 (OVER - Total Play of the Day)

Washington (-1, O/U 139): The Huskies rebounded nicely from a disappointing loss to Arizona State in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals, beating Mississippi State 71-58 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday. Quincy Pondexter scored a season-high 23 points as he and his teammates took advantage of early foul trouble by Bulldogs big man Jarvis Varnado. “It was very noticeable,” Pondexter said. “I didn’t have to alter my shots.” Washington also thrived in front of the home fans at Portland's Rose Garden.

Washington is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games overall.
The OVER is 16-5 in Washington's last 21 games overall.

Key Injuries - NONE


East Region: #7 Texas vs. #2 Duke

Texas: The Longhorns will be looking to make it to the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in eight years, but they will need to overcome a tough home-court edge for Duke in the process. A good start could help them achieve their goal. “There are some staples in their program that they do - I mean, obviously, every game they come out extremely aggressive to start with,” Texas head coach Rick Barnes said on Friday. “They’re going to apply a great deal of pressure in the first four or five minutes of the game and see how you’re going to handle that.”

Texas is 4-10-1 ATS in its last 15 games overall.
Texas is 0-3 ATS in the last 3 meetings.

Key Injuries - NONE


Duke (-7.5, O/U 140): The Blue Devils are coming off their biggest NCAA tournament win since beating Seton Hall by 28 points en route to their last Final Four appearance. Whether or not they can continue their strong play remains to be seen, but the team definitely believes they can beat anybody right now. “Coming off a game where we did win pretty big, it’s a confidence-booster for our team,” Duke forward Lance Thomas said. “Everybody is in the mindset believing that we can win. Not thinking about the past. We’ve been playing really well. Very good basketball recently. So just taking that and running with it will be big for us.”

Duke is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games overall.
The UNDER is 10-3 in Duke's last 13 neutral site games.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 76 (Side Play of the Day)

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21


Saturday's NCAA games

UConn won first round game by 56 with coach Calhoun in the hospital, dehydrated, just its fourth win in last seven games, and first postseason win since '06. Texas A&M shot 58% in win over BYU Thursday; their seventh win in last eight games. Aggies covered their last six tries as an underdog. Over last six seasons, #2 seeds are 8-16 against spread in this round, with 11 outright losses. 10-seeds are 6-2 vs spread in this round.

Calipari's 2nd-seeded '94 UMass team lost to 10th-seeded Maryland in second round; now Calipari sees 10th-seeded Terps again. Memphis was down six with 11:00 to go vs Northridge Thursday, won by 11, as a kid who averages 5 ppg exploded for 35, making 10 treys. Maryland is 3-1 in last four games; they covered six of last nine games as a dog. Memphis won its last 26 games, covered four of last six as a favorite.

LSU jumped out to 9-0 lead, hung on to beat Butler 75-71, just second win in its last five games; Tigers were 3-2 as an SEC road underdog this year- they're 13-3 outside the SEC. North Carolina got zero resistance in win over Radford, their fifth win in last six games. Tar Heels won by 19 vs Kentucky in only game vs SEC opponent. #1 seeds are 9-7 vs spread in this round the last four seasons, 5-2 if they're giving double digits.

Purdue won last four games; Hummel seems to be healthy, so Boilers are more dangerous than they've been all year- they are 1-2 as underdog this season. Washington will have crowd support in Portland; they won by 13 Thursday, holding Miss State to 34.5% from floor while forcing 17 turnovers. Purdue led Northern Iowa by 12 at half, held on to win by 5, holding Panthers to 37%-. Over last six years, #4 seeds are 3-11 vs the spread when facing the #5 seed in this round- not really sure why.

Villanova was down 14 in second half to American, will need lot better effort here, vs determined UCLA team that has been in last three Final Fours. Home game for a Wildcat squad that is 13-1 outside of Big East, losing 67-58 to Texas- they covered one of last six as a favorite. UCLA won six of last seven games; they led by 10 at half vs VCU Thursday, hung on to win by a point. Bruins were 6-3 on Pac-10 road this season.

Michigan's 1-3-1 zone defense is tough to prepare for in two days; they won two games in row once since Jan 11, are 5-2 vs spread in last seven games as an underdog. Oklahoma is 3-4 in last seven games, but they've got two NBA talents and a senior point guard; Sooners are 4-6 vs spread in last ten games as a favorite. As noted above, #2 seeds are 8-16 vs the spread the last six years; #10 seeds covered six of last eight in this round.

Texas shot 11-20 from arc, was +11 on boards vs Minnesota; now Rick Barnes gets road game in Greensboro against Duke, which shot 1-and-1 foul shots before the second TV timeout Thursday. Blue Devils won by 24 vs overmatched Binghamton, but Bearcats shot 52%-- Duke struggles against quick guards. Longhorns are 1-3 as an underdog this year, losing by 15 at Oklahoma, 9 at Okla State, 10 at Kansas, winning at Baylor.

Gonzaga held Akron without hoop for 12+ minutes midway thru second half when they trailed Zips by 6, in game they won by 13; only team to beat Zags since New Year's Eve is Memphis- Zags covered five of their last seven as a favorite. Western Kentucky won last eight games, but is just 6-5 outside Sun Belt, with four of the five losses by 13+ points. #12 seeds are 5-3 vs spread as an underdog in this round the last seven years.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

Michigan vs. Oklahoma Preview
By Scott Spreitzer

Not too many pundits expected this matchup in the second round. While they all had Oklahoma advancing over Morgan State without much trouble, most had Clemson advancing over a Michigan team that sparked controversy just by being invited to the Big Dance.

But as stated in our Michigan/Clemson preview, the Wolverines owned a distinct advantage at the top with Coach Beilein over Clemson's Oliver Purnell. It's worth noting once again that Beilein had "danced" well before as coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers. They advanced to the Elite-Eight in 2005 as a seven-seed and to the Sweet-16 as a six-seed in 2006. So, not only does Beilein know what it takes to advance with an unheralded team, but his game style fares well in the Big Dance formula.

We also mentioned in that preview that the Wolverines fortunes would ultimately all on the shoulders of guard Manny Harris. The 6'5 sophomore came through with flying colors. Harris led the team in scoring with 23-points. He also pulled down seven rebounds and finished with six assists. Harris can present a matchup problem for opposing backcourts, first due to his size because he can take a shorter defender to the rack, but also because Harris can stop and pop from area code three at any given time.

Oklahoma's guards have decent size and won't be at such a disadvantage like most who matchup with Harris. Willie Warren and Austin Johnson go 6'4 and 6'3, respectively. Their one weakness, however, is that they, along with their backups, tend to play out of control at times, turning the ball over too frequently. The Sooners, despite dominating Morgan State, finished with 15 turnovers in round one, the same number of assists dished out. The Sooners must shoot decently to keep Michigan from sagging in on Blake Griffin. The good news for coach Capel is that his team definitely brought their "A-game" on Thursday. Griffin had his usual big game, but the rest of the team connected on 50% of their shots, which made Blake tough to double.

One final word on this one. Unlike the matchup with Clemson, the Wolverines don't own a big advantage from the bench on Saturday. In fact, I'd have to rate the coaching staffs dead-even. The bottom line: Michigan wins if Harris goes for 20-plus and limits his team from offensive miscues. Oklahoma wins this one if Tyler Griffin, Tony Crocker, Willie Warren, and Austin Johnson, all hit their shots and the backcourt plays under control. In either case, this should be an outstanding matchup of two fine coaches, and two of the better players in the tourney in Michigan's Manny Harris and Oklahoma's Blake Griffin.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 3/21

Texas A&M vs. Connecticut Prevew
By Matt Fargo

The Betting Numbers

This game opened at -9.5 and was pushed up to -10.5 not long after. Both teams won their opening game rather easily but the Huskies blowout win by 56 points has definitely inflated this line by a point or two. The total was set at 139.5 which is about where it was expected to be as the majority of totals this season for both sides fell in that range. The number is lower than the closing totals in the opening game for both teams.

Series History

This is the third meeting between Texas A&M and Connecticut with each side owning one victory. This is the first meeting since the 1989 Great Alaska Shootout.

The Teams

Connecticut was the preseason favorite to win the Big East Conference and it nearly met expectations, finishing a game behind Louisville. The Huskies were looking for a rematch with the Cardinals in the Big East Tournament but they were upended by Syracuse in that classic six-overtime contest at MSG. The time off looked as though it helped as the Huskies steamrolled UT-Chattanooga in the first round. The game was tight early but Connecticut exploded for a 31-5 run to put the game away early.

Connecticut is now 14-2 away from home on the season and of those 14 wins, six victories came against teams that are in the 64-team field as well as four others against teams playing in other postseason tournaments. The Huskies are ranked third in shooting defense in the nation, allowing 37.3 percent from the floor and they are now first in the country in rebounding margin at +10.9, passing Michigan St. after the Huskies outrebounded the Mocs 56-33.

Texas A&M closed the season very strong with six consecutive wins heading into the Big XII Tournament. The Aggies faced Texas Tech in the first round, a team they defeated twice during the regular season, but they came up small in losing to the Red Raiders by five points. They were banged up, most notably Josh Carter had a bum ankle, so the time off was needed and it proved to help. Texas A&M made its first 10 shots against the Cougars while building a 22-7 lead and it never looked back.

Texas A&M is 8-7 away from home this season including 3-2 in neutral court games. The Aggies, long known for poor free throw shooting, have a decent 69.1 percent success rate from the line this season but that drops to just 66.4 percent in road games and they shot 68.4 percent against BYU. The best news against the Cougars was a 1.33 assist/turnover ratio after coming in with a below average 0.95 ratio on the season including a dismal 0.65 ratio away from home.

Against the Numbers

The Huskies, being a high profile team are often overvalued and it showed at times with their numbers. Connecticut is 14-14 against the number including a 10-13 ATS mark as a favorite. Covering massive numbers has not been the strength of the Huskies as they are 1-6 ATS this season when giving up 15 or more points but that one ATS win came on Thursday against UT-Chattanooga. They have had more success on the road than at home, going 10-6 ATS in road and neutral court games. Fading the Huskies down the stretch would have paid huge dividends as they went a money-burning 1-6 ATS in their final seven games prior to Thursday.

The Aggies are now 15-10 ATS for the season and most of that success has come late. Texas A&M went 5-7 against the number in its first 12 lined games but then it really heated up with covers in 10 of its final 12 regular season contests. The Aggies were lethal as underdogs this season and are now 10-3 ATS while winning seven of those 13 games outright including the game against BYU. As an underdog of fewer than three points, they are now a perfect 5-0 ATS. The Aggies received double-digit numbers three times this season, going 2-1 ATS but lost all three outright. They are now 6-2 ATS mark as a road underdog.


The 56-point Connecticut win is the third-largest margin of victory in NCAA Tournament history...The Huskies are now 15-1 in the first round in 16 NCAA Tournament appearances in the Jim Calhoun era and they are 11-3 in 14 previous second round appearances…Calhoun had to sit out two other previous tournament games (1999 and 2004) and the Huskies won the National Championship both times…Texas A&M shot 57.7 percent from the field against BYU, the highest shooting percentage in school history in an NCAA Tournament game.

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