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NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

NCAA Tournament Odds – LVH Sets New Prices After Bracket Unveiling
By: The Linemakers

With the field now set, the LVH SuperBook has posted updated odds to win the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville, the tournament's overall No. 1 seed, garners favorite status at 9-to-2.

Indiana, the No. 1 seed in the East Region and the third overall seed, is the 7-to-1 second choice at the LVH.

No. 2 seeds Duke and Miami, and No. 3 Florida are next, all listed at 8-to-1.

In late October, before the season began, Miami and New Mexico were each 500-to-1 at the LVH to win the NCAA Tournament. The Lobos are now 30-to-1.

Kansas and Gonzaga, the other two top seeds, are being offered at 10-to-1 and 12-to-1, respectively.


DUKE 8-1
OHIO ST 15-1
VCU 50-1
UNLV 100-1
BUTLER 100-1
UCLA 100-1
OREGON 100-1
TEMPLE 500-1
IOWA ST 500-1
OLE MISS 500-1
ST MARY'S 1000-1
BELMONT 1000-1
LASALLE 1000-1
BOISE ST 1000-1
FIELD 150-1

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

NCAA Tournament Opening Line Report and Odds
By Jason Logan

Oddsmakers laced up their dancing shoes Sunday waiting for the NCAA tournament field to be announced so they could begin the frantic process of setting spreads and totals for the biggest betting week of the year.

Around 9 p.m. ET Sunday night, lines for the opening matchups of the tournament began to trickle out but oddsmakers started their work the second the Selection Sunday show concluded. They quickly printed off the brackets and schedules and started crunching stats and figures for Tuesday and Wednesday’s play-in games as well as the second-round matchups on Thursday and Friday.

“Those play-in games are probably the toughest,” Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, told Covers. “We don’t know a whole lot about some of those play-in teams. Other than those, we match stats for stats and figure out how high do you want to go.”

Korner bounces his projected spreads and totals off his panel of oddsmakers and they debate which numbers suit their clients the best, factoring in public opinion and expected sharp betting patterns.

The No. 1 seeds with second-round matchups already set – Gonzaga and Kansas – obviously have the highest spreads of the opening rounds. The Bulldogs, the top seed in the West Regional, are suggested 22-point favorites over No. 16 Southern. The Jayhawks, the No. 1 seed in the South Regional, are 20-point chalk versus No. 16 Western Kentucky. No. 3 Florida is also a 20-point favorite versus No. 14 Northwestern State.

As for the tightest spreads on the board, Korner’s oddsmakers sent out a “pick’em” for two No. 7-versus-No. 10 matchups: Illinois vs. Colorado and Notre Dame vs. Iowa State. The play-in game between La Salle and Boise State was also sent out as a pick.

For fans of high-scoring hoops, the biggest total on the board belongs to the game between No. 8 North Carolina State and No. 9 Temple, which garnered a 152-point number. Both teams have a potent offense, averaging a combined 150.3 points per game, and rank among the bottom in defense.

“We wanted to go with whoever had the highest for that game,” Korner says of the NC State-Temple total. “It’s a game that’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.”

The lowest over/under on the board is the 122-point total for the game between No. 3 Saint Louis and No. 13 New Mexico State. The Billikens rode their stout defense – ranked 18th in the country – to the A-10 championship while the Aggies allowed only 62.1 points per game this season.

“The toughest totals are the ones where you have one high-scoring team versus a team that plays low,” says Korner. “We usually go with the team that has the strength and should control the flow of the game. But it’s like the playoffs, we are thinking ‘low, low low’.”

Here’s the full list of odds for the opening games of the 2013 NCAA tournament:

Play-in games

March 19, 2013

Liberty vs. North Carolina A&T (-3, 127)
St. Mary's vs. Middle Tennessee State (+3, 131)

March 20, 2013

La Salle vs. Boise State (Pick, 138)
James Madison vs. LIU Brooklyn (-1, 147)

Round 2

March 21, 2013

No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 8 Colorado State (+2.5, 143)
No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State (-3, 135)
No. 13 New Mexico State vs. No. 4 Saint Louis (-10, 122)
No. 14 Valparaiso vs. No. 3 Michigan State (-9.5, 128)
No. 12 Akron vs. No. 5 VCU (-5.5, 138)
No. 13 South Dakota State vs. No. 4 Michigan (-12, 141)
No. 12 California vs. No. 5 UNLV (-3, 126)
No. 13 Montana vs. No. 4 Syracuse (-15, 130)
No. 11 Bucknell vs. No. 6 Butler (-4.5, 124)
No. 14 Davidson vs. No. 3 Marquette (-3.5, 131)
No. 16 Southern vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (-22, 127)
No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh (-5.5, 125)
No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 6 Arizona (-5, 142)
No. 14 Harvard vs. No. 3 New Mexico (-11.5, 127)

March 22, 2013

No. 10 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Creighton (-1.5. 124)
No. 15 Albany vs. No. 2 Duke (-19, 133)
No. 16 Western Kentucky vs. No. 1 Kansas (-20, 135)
No. 9 Villanova vs. No. 8 North Carolina (-4, 137)
No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 6 UCLA (+3, 133)
No. 14 Northwestern State vs. No. 3 Florida (-20, 136)
No. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 San Diego State (-2, 135)
No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 2 Georgetown (-14, 126)
No. 9 Temple vs. No. 8 North Carolina State (-4, 152)
No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Illinois (Pick, 128)
No. 15 Pacific vs. No. 2 Miami (-13, 127)
No. 10 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Notre Dame (Pick, 142)
No. 15 Iona vs. No. 2 Ohio State (-13, 142)
No. 12 Mississippi vs. No. 5 Wisconsin (-3.5, 128)

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

NCAA Tournament Tidbits
By Steve Merril

The 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament is finally here.  Below are some quick facts and thoughts to consider when filling out your office bracket.

#1 Success:

Overall #1 seed has won 5 of last 6 NCAA national championships.

In 2011 when #3 seed Connecticut won the title, it was the first time in history that no #1 or #2 seed made the Final Four.

Teams seeded #1 thru #3 have won 30 of the past 34 NCAA Championships:

#1 seed (19 times 56%)
#2 seed (6 times 18%)
#3 seed (5 times 15%)
#4 or worse (4 times 12%)

First Rounds Dominance:

#1 seeds are 88-0 (100%) SU versus #16 seeds.

#2 seeds are 82-6 (93%) SU versus #15 seeds, however two #15 seeds won last year.

#3 seeds are 78-10 (89%) SU versus #14 seeds

#4 seeds are 69-19 (78%) SU versus #13 seeds

Biggest pointspread upset in NCAA Tournament history occurred last year when #15 Norfolk State (+21.5) defeated #2 Missouri, 86-84.

Odds & Ends:

Georgetown has lost 4 straight times in the first round to a double-digit seeded opponent in the NCAA Tournament.  The Hoyas have lost to #10, #14, #11, and #10 seeds (2008-2012).

Oregon is a #12 seed, while UCLA is a #6 seed, despite Ducks being -1.5 favorite and winning the MWC tournament versus the Bruins on a neutral court?  A strange seeding which shows how the oddsmakers and the selection committee often have different opinions.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Early Round Betting Trends
By Marc Lawrence

The 2013 NCAA Tournament has arrived and with it a final chance to pad our bankrolls for the season.

To make that shining moment happen, let’s take a look at how teams in this event have fared most recently in the past.

Because it’s my belief that success in handicapping this tournament is tantamount to breaking the action down into rounds, let’s take a look at some of the more relevant and most recent trend results that have occurred in Round One games.

Here are notes from the 2013 PLAYBOOK NCAA Tournament guide. Note all results are since 1991 unless noted otherwise. Abbreviations: ATS (Against The Spread), SU (Straight Up).


If your dream of designs is completing the perfect bracket (read: picking every winner in every game), enjoy the dream.

You have a better chance of winning 50 Powerball lotteries in your lifetime!

Since expanding to 64 teams in 1985, the odds of randomly picking a perfect bracket sheet are one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 – or better than one in nine quintillion.

Hint: you can reduce the odds to one in 13.5 billion simply by picking the No. 1 seeds over the No. 16 seeds in the first round and going from there.

Now that you’re feeling better about your chances, concentrate, instead on picking the Final Four teams. That’s 16 to the fourth power, or one in 65,536.

Incidentally, there have been only seven teams seeded lower than No. 6 to reach the Final Four since 1985: 1985 Evansville (8), 1986 LSU (11), 2000 North Carolina (8), 2000 Wisconsin (8), 2006 George Mason (11), 2011 Butler (8) and 2011 VCU (11).

For what it’s worth, Sheldon Jacobson, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois, informs us the most likely Final Four seed combination is 1, 1, 2, 3. The odds against this occurring are about 16 to 1. It has happened three times in the past 28 years. Chalk artists beware: the odds of all four No.1 seeds reaching the Final Four: 47.5 to 1.

And long shot lovers note: the odds of a No. 16 seed reaching the Final Four: 828 to 1. The odds of all four No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four: about one trillion to 1.


No. 1 seeds are 88-0 SU and 50-37-1 ATS vs. No. 16 seeds, including 16-3 ATS if favored by fewer than 10 points off back-to-back SU wins.

No. 2 seeds are 82-6 SU and 37-47-4 ATS vs. No. 15 seeds, including 11-25-4 ATS vs. foes off a SU win.

No. 3 seeds are 78-10 SU and 47-39-2 ATS vs. No. 14 seeds, including 34-1 SU & 26-8-1 ATS off a SU favorite loss.

No. 4 seeds are 69-19 SU and 49-38-1 ATS vs. No. 13 seeds, including 34-16 ATS as favorites of less than 10 points.

No. 5 seeds are 57-31 SU and 43-45 ATS vs. No. 12 seeds, including 9-6 SU and 6-9 ATS the last four years. In addition, No. 12 seeds that participated in last year’s event are 21-16 SU against No. 5’s dating back to 1985. Those who did not play in this tournament the previous season are 17-58 SU in this round. FYI: a No. 12 seed has failed to beat a No. 5 seed only twice since 1988.

No. 6 seeds are 60-28 SU and 47-39-2 ATS vs. No. 11 seeds, including 9-8 SU and 4-12-1 ATS vs. an opponent off an ATS win of more than 7 points.

No. 7 seeds are 49-39 SU and 46-41-1 ATS vs. No. 10 seeds, including 1-7 SU and ATS 1-7 ATS when off back-to-back SU losses.

No. 8 seeds are 43-45 SU and 42-44-2 ATS vs. No. 9 seeds, including 8-14 SU and 7-15 ATS as favorites of 3 or more points.

Pete Tiernan of reminds us that since 1985, No. 5 and 6 seeds own identical 74-38 SU marks against No. 12 and 11 seeds respectively.


Conference tournament champs most recent trends in this round (numbers all ATS)

ACC: 3-1-1, Atlantic 10: 2-4, Big Ten: 4-2, Big 12: 0-3, Big East: 5-1, Big West: 1-6, Colonial: 7-4, C-USA: 1-5, Horizon: 4-1, MAC: 3-0, Missouri Valley: 2-5-1, Mountain West: 4-1-1, Pac-12: 5-2, Sun Belt: 3-2, SEC: 2-3, WAC: 2-6, West Coast: 2-5.

Best team records (SU) in this round

N Carolina: 10-0, Kansas: 6-0, Pittsburgh: 6-0, Wisconsin: 6-0, UCLA: 5-0, Gonzaga: 5-0, Kansas State: 5-0, NC State: 5-0, Syracuse: 4-0, Duke: 14-1, Cincinnati 10-1.

Worst team records (SU) in this round

New Mexico State: 0-5, Minnesota: 0-4, UNLV: 0-3, San Diego State: 1-4, Temple: 1-4. Best team ATS records in this round

VCU: 5-0, Kansas State: 4-0, NC State: 4-0, St. Louis: 4-0, Western Kentucky: 4-0, Cincinnati: 3-0, Butler: 8-1, Indiana: 5-1.

Worst team ATS records in this round

Oregon: 0-7, Temple: 0-5, Minnesota: 0-4, Creighton: 1-5, Notre Dame: 1-5, Villanova: 1-5, Memphis: 1-4.

Best conference ATS records in this round

Big Ten: 11-2, Pac-12: 8-2, Horizon: 9-3, MAC: 9-2 dogs, Colonial: 10-5.

Worst conference ATS records in this round

CUSA: 1-6, Big West: 1-5, Ivy: 2-11, Big 12: 3-9.


Favorites of seven or more points who are 3-0 SU & ATS in their last 3 games are 14-31 ATS vs. foes off a SU win… and 16-5 ATS vs. an opponent off a SU loss.

Favorites of 20 or more points with a win percentage of less than .880 are 2-14-1 ATS vs. a foe off a SU win.

Favorites of more than 7 points who scored 100 points or more in their last game are 19-7 ATS, including 14-2 ATS the last sixteen games.

Underdogs of 4 or more points playing off a SU post-season tourney win as a dog of six or more points are 14-37-1 ATS since 2000.

If this is not enough to get your blood flowing then you may be seriously in need of a cardiologist. I’ll be back next week with a look at Sweet 16 and Elite Eight round action.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

68 Stats For 68 NCAA Tournament-Bound Teams

It's tourney time, so here's a few betting stats and notes for all 68 teams vying for the national title:


(1) Louisville - Ranks 224th in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (33.1%)

(2) Duke - Went 18-0 in the regular season with forward Ryan Kelly in the lineup (11-7 ATS) but 9-3 SU and 6-7 ATS without him.

(3) Michigan State - The Spartans play strong, balanced team defense, finishing 35th or better in four key defensive statistical categories - points allowed per game, opponent field goal percentage, opponent 3-point percentage and opponent free throw percentage.

(4) Saint Louis - In seven NCAA tournament appearances, the Billikens have never advanced past their second game.

(5) Oklahoma State - The Cowboys lost in the opening round of their last tournament appearance in 2010.

(6) Memphis - The Tigers are very efficient from the floor, shooting 37.9% from 3-point range and 47.9 from the field. But their 66.7 percent mark from the free-throw line ranks 260th in the country.

(7) Creighton - The Bluejays lead the nation in field goal percentage (.508) and rank fourth in assists per game (17.2).

(8) Colorado State - Have only covered once in their last seven games.

(9) Missouri - The Tigers are the second-best rebounding team in the country at 41.4 per game.

(10) Cincinnati - The Bearcats rank 26th or better in opponent points per game, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and free throw percentage.

(11) TBD from play-in game.

(12) Oregon - The Ducks will make their first tournament appearance since 2008, when they were eliminated in the first round as a No. 9 seed.

(13) New Mexico State - Enters the tourney on a five-game winning streak and has now won six straight WAC tournament games by at least nine points, and by an overall average margin of 14.3 points per win.

(14) Valparaiso - The Crusaders are making their first NCAA appearance since 2004. They head into the tourney on a six-game winning streak after breaking the school's single-season record for victories.

(15) Albany - This will be the third tournament appearance for the Great Danes. They also made it to the Big Dance in 2006 and 2007.

(16) TBD from play-in game


(1) Kansas - Kansas has the best field-goal percentage defense in the country -- and much of it comes from its shot-blocking prowess on the interior. The Jayhawks allow teams to shoot only 38.9 percent inside the arc, and only 35.9 percent overall -- both rank first in the country.

(2) Georgetown - The Hoyas rank 297th in experience, making them one of the youngest teams in the field.

(3) Florida - The Gators were once seen as a lock for a No. 1 seed. After going 5-4 on the road during the SEC regular season and losing in the tournament title game, the Gators fell to a No. 3 seed

(4) Michigan - Posted a 19-12 over/under mark during the regular season - the most overs in the Big Ten.

(5) VCU - The Rams lead the country in turnovers forced per game (19.9) and steals per game (11.9).

(6) UCLA - Second leading scorer Jordan Adams (15.3 ppg) is out for the rest of the season. He suffered a broken foot Friday night against Arizona.

(7) San Diego State - The Aztecs have only covered once in their last six games.

(8) UNC - The Tar Heels have advanced to at least the regional final in six of their last seven NCAA tournament appearances, including two national championships in 2009 and 2005.

(9) Villanova - The Wildcats were a Big East-best 19-10-1 ATS this season.

(10) Oklahoma - The Sooners have played over the total in 10 of their last 11 games.

(11) Minnesota - The Gophers have some quality wins over Memphis, Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Indiana this season.

(12) Akron - The Zips overcame the loss of G Alex Abreu to win the MAC tournament, but their 64.5 percent free throw shooting percentage is a major cause for concern.

(13) South Dakota State - The Jackrabbits' sole NCAA appearance came last year, when they earned a trip to the dance but fell in the opener 68-60 to Baylor.

(14) Northwestern State - The Demons score 81 points per game and average 72.9 possession - both are tops in college basketball

(15) Florida Gulf Coast - The Eagles won the Atlantic Sun's automatic bid with an 88-75 victory over top-seeded Mercer on its floor on March 9. It's the first time for FGCU in the tournament in just its second year of eligibility.

(16) Western Kentucky - Went 0-3-1 O/U in the Sun Belt tourney.


(1) Gonzaga - Has lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament three years in a row.

(2) Ohio State - The Buckeyes are 5-0 ATS in their last five games and 7-1 ATS in their last eight.

(3) New Mexico - The Lobos' January 9th win over UNLV is their only victory against a team in the RPI Top 20.

(4) Kansas State - The Wildcats are 9-2 in games when senior guard Rodney McGruder scores 20+ points.

(5) Wisconsin - The Badgers hold opponents to a 10th-best 55.9 points per game.

(6) Arizona - The last time Arizona posted seven losses in the regular season (2010-11) it advanced to the Elite Eight.

(7) Notre Dame - The Irish have gone over the total in four straight heading into the NCAA Tournament.

(8) Pittsburgh - This will be Pitt's first NCAA appearance since 2011, when they were eliminated by Butler in the round of 32 as a No. 1 seed.

(9) Wichita State - The Shockers were eliminated in the first round in last season's tournament by VCU. They were an at-large entry and a No. 5 seed.

(10) Iowa State - The Cyclones rank fourth in the nation in points per game (79.6).

(11) Belmont - This is the third year in a row that Belmont earned an automatic tournament bid as Atlantic Sun tournament winner. They were eliminated in the first round the previous two seasons.

(12) Ole Miss - Last made an appearance in the 2002 NCAA tournament and lost in the first round.

(13) TBD from play-in game

(14) Harvard - The Crimson are a good rebounding team that shoots well from beyond the arc. Harvard ranks seventh in the nation in 3-point percentage (40.1) and 28th in rebounding (27.2).

(15) Iona - The Gaels won the MAAC tournament last winter and were eliminated in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament by Brigham Young.


(1) Indiana - All five of Indiana's losses this season have come against teams in the RPI Top 50.

(2) Miami - The Hurricanes broke the program’s record for wins in a season, set by the 2001-02 team. Miami easily covered in all three of its ACC tournament games.

(3) Marquette - The Golden Eagles have failed to cover in their last three games.

(4) Syracuse - The last time Syracuse lost in the Big East Conference final (2009) it advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to No. 2 Oklahoma.

(5) UNLV - The Runnin' Rebels have been ousted in the opening round of the NCAA tournament three years in a row.

(6) Butler - Has been a perennial bracket buster in past tournaments and brings a balanced attack with four players averaging 10 points or more per game.

(7) Illinois - The Illini have the third most Top-25 RPI wins in the country with six.

(8) N.C. State - The Wolfpack shot 49.5 percent from the field – fourth best in the nation – but only 45.3 percent in their nine losses.

(9) Temple - The Owls tangled with some big-name programs in non-conference play, taking on Villanova, Duke, Syracuse and Kansas. Temple was 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS in those games.

(10) Colorado - Junior forward Andre Roberson is second in the nation with 11.3 rebounds per game. The Buffaloes were a great under play this season, posting a 7-16 O/U mark.

(11) Bucknell - The Bison failed to cover as big favorites in all three Patriot League playoff games.

(12) Cal - Junior guard Allen Crabbe led the Pac-12 in scoring with 18.7 points per game, but the Golden Bears were a great under play (9-16 O/U) this season.

(13) Montana - The Grizzlies were covering machines on the road this season (10-4-1 ATS).

(14) Davidson - This team is the best in the nation from the charity stripe (80.1 percent).

(15) Pacific - This is Pacific's eighth appearance in the NCAA tournament, and its first since 2006. In the Tigers' last tourney appearance, they lost to Boston College in the first round.

(16) TBD from play-in game

Play-in teams

North Carolina A&T - The Aggies have an aggressive offense that gets to the foul line on a quarter of their possessions.

Liberty - The Flames dropped their first eight games of the season and amassed 20 losses. A classic example of a team getting hot at the right time to win its respective conference tourney to earn a berth.

Middle Tennessee - The Blue Raiders are headed to the big dance for the first time in 24 years and are 2-6 all-time in the tournament, with the last win coming in the 1989 Southeast Regional appearance.

St. Mary's - The last time the Gaels entered the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid was 2008. They were eliminated in the first round.

La Salle - The Explorers have been on everybody's NCAA radar since one of the greatest weeks in recent school history when they defeated visiting Butler, 54-53 on Jan. 23 and then earned a 69-61 win at VCU on Jan. 26.

Boise State - The Broncos rank 33rd in the nation with 7.8 three pointers made per game and boast an efficient 39.1 three-point percentage.

LIU-Brooklyn - The Blackbirds became the first team to win the Northeast Conference tournament three years in a row and are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games.

James Madison - The Dukes are 5-0 ATS in their last five Wednesday and neutral site games.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Estimated Market Power Ratings

Had some time to throw down numbers after the first set of Vegas lines went up. These are based on early numbers, and could change over the next few days. If you’re new to the website, these are my estimates of how “the market” has its Power Ratings heading into the Big Dance. They’re based on the estimates we’ve been updating continually through the season, and the current numbers in Tuesday/Thursday/Friday action.

Note that the market loves Florida, Arizona, and Pittsburgh more than the polls or selection committee did…which has been true or several weeks. And, for you regulars, the ACC may be getting more respect in the market that I had been guessing in recent days based on the early prices for NC and NC State, and possibly the Mountain West too the way things are shading with some of those teams.

First, by seed.

1…Louisville 87, Indiana 87, Gonzaga 85, Kansas 84

2…Duke 86, Ohio State 84, Miami 83, Georgetown 82

3…Florida 87, Michigan State 83, New Mexico 81, Marquette 80

4…Michigan 83, Saint Louis 82, Syracuse 82, Kansas State 80

5…Wisconsin 81, VCU 81, Oklahoma State 81, UNLV 80

6…Arizona 82, Memphis 78, Butler 78, UCLA 77 (after injury)

7…Creighton 80, San Diego State 80, Notre Dame 78, Illinois 78

8…Pittsburgh 83, North Carolina 81, NC State 80, Colorado State 79

9…Missouri 81, Wichita State, 78, Villanova 77, Temple 76

10…Cincinnati 78, Oklahoma 78, Colorado 77, Iowa State 77

11…Minnesota 79, St. Mary’s 79, Belmont 78, Middle Tennessee 76, Bucknell 75

12…Oregon 78, California 78, Mississippi 77, Akron 74

13…Boise State 77, LaSalle 76, New Mexico State 72, South Dakota State 72, Montana 69

14…Davidson 76, Valparaiso 73, Harvard 70, Northwestern State 67

15…Iona 70, Pacific 69, Albany 68, Florida Gulf Coast 68

16…Western Kentucky 64, Southern 63, we’ll see with the last four later.

True that it looks like Davidson gets hosed as a #14…but they get to play the weakest #3..who would also be the weakest #4 and weakest #5…so nobody should be complaining about it.

Now, by region, using the order they were announced on CBS today…


Contenders (82 and up): Louisville 87, Duke 86, Michigan State 83, Saint Louis 82

Spoilers: Oklahoma State 81, Missouri 81, Creighton 80, Colorado State 79, St. Mary’s 79, Oregon 78, Cincinnati 78, Memphis 78, Middle Tennessee 76

Filler: Valpo 73, New Mexico State 72, Albany 68, NC A&T, and Liberty


Contenders: Florida 87, Kansas 84, Michigan 83, Georgetown 82

Spoilers: VCU 81, North Carolina 81, San Diego State 80, Minnesota 79, Oklahoma 78, Villanova 77, UCLA 77

Filler: Akron 74, S. Dakota State 72, Fla Gulf Coast 68, NW State 67, Western Kentucky 64


Contenders: Indiana 87, Miami 82, Syracuse 82

Spoilers: UNLV 80, NC State 80, Marquette 80, California 78, Illinois 78, Butler 78, Colorado 77, Temple 76, Davidson 76, Bucknell 74

Filler: Montana 69, Pacific 69, LIU and James Madison


Contenders: Gonzaga 85, Ohio State 84, Pittsburgh 83, Arizona 82

Spoilers: New Mexico 81 (might be 82), Wisconsin 81, Kansas State 80, Wichita State 78, Notre Dame 78, Belmont 78, Iowa State 77, Ole Miss 77, Boise State 77,  LaSalle 76

Filler: Iona 70, Harvard 70, Southern 63

Number of teams at 80 or higher:

Midwest (Louisville): 7

South (Kansas): 7

East (Indiana): 6

West (Gonzaga): 7

Most people are sensing that Indiana’s region is the easiest. That was my impression to. It doesn’t show up so much that way. But, if I change the threshold to 81 or more, you get…

Number of teams at 81 or higher:

Midwest (Louisville): 6

South (Kansas): 6

East (Indiana): 3

West (Gonzaga): 6

I’m not going to pretend for a second that I’ve nailed market estimates properly for every single team. The margin for error is enough that there’s little difference between who I’m guessing is an 81, and who is an 80. But, the bracket eyeball test was saying Indiana had it easiest…and I think the market pretty much agrees with that. Plus…if you’re thinking projected opponents NC State (overrated), Syracuse (exhausted), and Miami (untested at this level) are less scary than what’s in other regions…then it seems like a cakewalk to the Final Four for the Hoosiers.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Bracket Cliff Notes - Bracketology
By Dave Essler

Indiana: Having lost on Saturday may be a good thing, as it gives them an extra days' rest. Often times history is a good indicator, and last year they lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual Champ, Kentucky, 102-90. Last year in the first round the beat New Mexico State by 13 as a -6.5 point favorite. Won second round against VCU but did not cover. With the exception of when he had Dwayne Wade, his team(s) until last year had never advanced past the second round. All the talent in the world can't overcome inexperience coaching this time of year. Just sayin' ti wouldn't surprise me to see them struggle against

Kansas: Obviously coming in hot, and no matter what they've got the coach with the Final Four Experience, as well as the experience players. In making it to the Finals last season, they beat (and covered) Detroit before barely beating (and not covering) against both Purdue and NC State. Does Albany have a shot at covering (which is all we care about). This is their first trip beyond a Conference Tournament since 2007 when the then still coach Will Brown was there, and they were crushed by UVA. So, virgin territory here. The are very experienced and they do get to the FT a ton, but they simply cannot (do not) play at the pace Kansas does. I do think they can cover, if for no other reason than the backdoor might be open if and when Kansas rest people. I've watched the Jayhawks second unit, and the drop off is mammoth.

Gonzaga: Say no more about the talent and the ability to win games with offense, defense, up-tempo, slow, inside, or outside. Last year they opened with West Virginia, who they beat pretty soundly, the lost in round two to Ohio State. Perhaps the biggest factor there was they were playing in Pittsburgh, which is obviously a pro-Ohio State crowd, This year, they'll open in Salt Lake City, which is obviously the advantage of being a number one seed. JMU got hot at the right time to win the CAA, but they're clearly in over their heads. They played three teams in the Top 100, losing to UCLA in the season opener by 30, and lost to NDSU on a neutral site by 22. They're grossly undersized and this is one that I simply can't make a case for taking the points. Gongaza can name the score and I think they will. The only reason I can see them even thinking about not winning by 30 is that they've probably got Oregon (or SDSU) next, who's probably the best #8 seed in this Tournament.

Louisville: Well, we sure know they're a second half team! They've got the pedigree behind the bench and Siva was there last year when we backed them for some easy cashes early. They're a little bigger than they were last year, which is scary.

Here's a few matchups. I'll use this all week to edit as my work-in-progress.


Colorado State-Missouri:
CSU is still at seasons' end one of the most under valued teams, finishing second in the MWC, which is actually rated the third toughest Conference. Eustachy has done the same thing, which was turn them into a sick rebounding team at both ends of the floor. They're considerably undersized, but with their experience can probably beat anyone. They lost back in December to (at) Illinois Chicago, and that was in fact their only bad loss. Losing in the second round to UNLV gives them that extra day, which is key. They just don't ever beat themselves, which is the type of team we typically want our money on. Missouri is a team this is/was just 2-8 away from home, and that's always tough to get behind, but, they were 4-2 on Neutral courts against some excellent competition. However, they have fared much better against teams that will run with them, and CSU will not.

Oklahoma State-Oregon: They certainly made the Ducks road tougher. Don't get that one. The battle between the Freshman here, Artis and Marcus Smart. He who makes the least mistakes wins. Cowboys stock is certainly down after struggling to beat Baylor and losing pretty soundly to K-State, who then was thumped by Kansas. Oregon wins the Pac-12 Tournament and really only struggled all year when Artis was out. Perhaps those late season losses at Colorado and Utah hurt them more than they should have.

St. Louis-New Mexico State: If NMSU doesn't turn the ball over too much and can shoot even reasonably well (65% as a team) from the line, they are and will be a tough out. Last year St. Louis was a 9 seed and knocked off Memphis in the first round, before almost beating Michigan State in the second round. NMSU is the biggest team in the nation, FWIW.

Michigan State-Valpo: Valpo lost in the first round of the NIT last year at Miami, but the are the most experienced team in the nation. I know, how can we possibly fade the Spartans and Izzo this time of year. Easily, that's why there's a point spread. Valpo ain't skurred, here.

Cincinnati-Creighton: Obviously very unimpressed with the Bearcats and their inability to score and/or shoot free throws. And was equally unimpressed by Creighton's performance in the Bracketbuster game against St. Mary's. Still think I'd be hard pressed to take Cincinnati here, not without at least finding ONE good reason. St. Mary's is exactly the type of offense that will give them trouble, and not one they see in the Big East.


Pittsburgh at Witchita State:
The Panthers fall into almost the same category as Marquette. They're terribly deliberate, played a lousy non-conference schedule, and really only beat G-Town in the Big East. So, IMO, over rated. Sorry Mr. D'Angelo. They do have the size, but for all that length they simply do not get to the FT line and do not make them when they do. Witchita State does just about everything well, and just had the one bad loss at Southern Illinois.

Wisconsin at Mississippi: We know what the Badgers so, and that's play slow, shoot three's, and play great defense. They'll try to slow down Mississippi, and it is easier to slow a game down rather than speed it up. What does always worry me about the Badgers is that they don't get to the line, and for a great outside shooting team, they simply don't shoot FT's well.

Arizona-Belmont: Wildcats certainly still have eyes on winning the whole thing, and Lord knows that they have the talent. They beat Florida and beat Miami (badly on a neutral court). What's really interesting is that most all the teams they either struggled with or lost to were big teams. UCLA, Oregon, and SoCal, to name most of them, and they do have three Freshman that see significant minutes. So, if they should beat Belmont and these brackets are at all correct, they'd better hope the don't play New Mexico State. They'd fare better against Marquette. And then there was Belmont, the team from the OVC that really doesn't do much wrong, and relies heavily on three's. Even though they hadn't played a good team since playing Kansas back in December, they won their Bracketbuster game over Ohio by about 20 points. They're full of Seniors who lost in the first round both of the last two years, to G-Town and Wisconsin. Those are teams that can play a ton of defense, and I wonder if Arizona can. This is not a goof matchup for AZ, who simply doesn't defend the perimeter well at all, or was near the bottom in doing so in the Pac-12.  This could easily be your annual #6 beats #11.

New Mexico-Harvard: New Mexico is no longer under the radar to anyone not following the MWC after winning the title in Las Vegas, over UNLV. Harvard is disciplined, and coach by Tommy Ammaker of Duke fame, but their defense is a bit suspect.

Notre Dame-Iowa State: Both had decent post season runs, and this is a classic matchup of the big and slow Irish versus the smaller and quicker, deadly shooting, Iowa State team. My intention is to fade most of the Big East teams, really. The only issue with betting on ISU is that they've got one, and only one, way to win. Shooting three's. But, like Cincinnati, the Irish don't see much of what ISU will show them.


Kansas-Western Kentucky:
The Sun Belt Conference is pretty bad, but WKU did start the season by almost beating Southern Miss, and played the likes of VCU, Louisville, Murray State, and Iowa, so this isn't going to be totally foreign to them. Being foreign and winning are not the same thing, but we want the cover or not. The Hilltoppers won four games in the Sun Belt Tournament by a total of 13 points. Obviously Kansas can name the score here if they want to, and I suspect they will if for no other reason than that embarrassing loss a few weeks ago.

North Carolina-Villanova: Tar Heels had a much better March than probably anyone thought, and Villanova won just the right games to get in. 'Nova will probably run with UNC here, but it's been my experience that teams that run with the Heels have fared worse than those that have not. They feasted on the Clemson's of the ACC but had much more trouble with the up tempo games, probably because of their youth. Villanova is a team I do like to back because they can play defense, and get to the line a ton. Wright is one of the more under rated coaches, IMO. I will really wonder what playing on Sunday and losing a tough game to Miami will do to UNC. Their young, and will have a little less rest.

llinois: Illinois is sliding, and perhaps back to the mean. Were it not for their win over Gonzaga, they may not be in. They beat Ohio State and Indiana at home, but all season have piled up wins against the bottom of the Conference and basically a terrible non-conference schedule. They've got length and experience, but not sure they've really come together under Groce, who's employed a whole new system with Weber's players. CSU is still at seasons' end one of the most under valued teams, finishing second in the MWC, which is actually rated the third toughest Conference. Eustachy has done the same thing, which was turn them into a sick rebounding team at both ends of the floor. They're considerably undersized, but with their experience can probably beat anyone. They lost back in December to (at) Illinois Chicago, and that was in fact their only bad loss. Losing in the second round to UNLV gives them that extra day, which is key. They just don't ever beat themselves, which is the type of team we typically want our money on.

VCU-Akron: Akron does have the size to compete, and I suppose it remains to be seen if Abreu plays or not. That certainly would effect the line, but it certainly didn't effect them against Ohio. VCU falls short to St. Louis in a game they were clearly over matched in, which had to be disappointing.

Michigan-South Dakota State: On paper the Summit League isn't that good, but this team played the likes of Alabama (almost won), New Mexico (won) and Belmont, so playing Michigan is no big deal to them. There's a part of me that wonder is the three Wolverines that are leaving for the NBA are really focused on this Tournament.

UCLA-Minnesota: Again, I wonder how fragile the Bruins are after all the pre-season attention and the disappointing loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament. By the same token, I hate backing Minnesota because they just turn it over too much. But, if the Bruins aren't careful, Minnesota is the number one offensive rebounding team in the nation.

Florida-Northwestern State: I would think that I would initially feel badly for Northwestern State, because one would think Florida would take out the Tournament loss on them. But, Donovan is smarter than that, and knows they need to win six games, and beating everyone by 25 just isn't going to happen.

San Diego State-Oklahoma: This one to me is ALL about motivation. Oklahoma is a young team that seemed to falter a bit down the stretch, while San Diego State just had a disappointing season, period. After the Sooners beat Kansas it's almost as if they thought they had won the World Series, because after that they really beat nobody, lost to TCU, and got bounced in the first round by Iowa State.


NC State-Temple:
I think instinctively people may be still down on the Wolfpack, but they've got NBA talent. On the other hand, they've got Gottfried. NC State finished strong and COULD have beaten Miami, so they're on an uptick here. Temple has light years' more experience and will run with NC State, but they certainly don't have the athletes. Having said that, they won their last eight or so A-10 games and beat VCU, then lost early to UMass, so perhaps a little more rest. Not enamored with their defense, but they did play both Kansas tough on the road

Georgetown-Florida GC: What you might think would happen here might and might not. The big advantage for G-Town was losing early and getting the extra rest. FGC played VCU, Duke, St. Johns, and Iowa State in the non-conference part of their schedule. This is no big deal to them. They'll play, or try to, very up tempo and don't make a ton of mistakes. They have an turnover issues, which obviously against G-Town is an issue, but where are the Hoyas heads at and is a young teams' confidence at all shattered after losing Syracuse in the fashion they did, and is Porter playing this tournament or thinking about the NBA.

Marquette-New Mexico State: I've been saying for weeks how over rated Marquette really is. They didn't play a great schedule (even in the Big East) and this is a team that lost to Florida by 33 points. They are not big, they are not fast, and they do not take many outside shots. When they're "on" they're really ON, but the reverse is true and if New Mexico State's size is an issue, this is a bad matchup for them. If NMSU doesn't turn the ball over too much and can shoot even reasonably well (65% as a team) from the line, then another Big East team could well have an early exit.

UNLV-Cal: This ones' interesting to me personally because I've maintained both teams were physically and/or mentally soft all season. Rebels cannot be feeling good about themselves losing the MWC Championship on their own floor. Cal has to be questioning themselves after a nice winning streak then losing the season finale at home to Stanford and the booted in round one by Utah.

Syracuse-Montana: I will never bet on Syracuse again. Montana isn't afraid of anyone.

Butler-Bucknell: I will never bet against Bucknell, and not because my daughter goes to school there. She graduates this Spring and is off to Austria, and Mike Muscala is off to the NBA. He is light years better than anyone Andrew Smith has had to guard, and it would simply not surprise me at all if the Bison won this game.

Marquette-Davidson: I've been saying for weeks how over rated Marquette really is. They didn't play a great schedule (even in the Big East) and this is a team that lost to Florida by 33 points. They are not big, they are not fast, and they do not take many outside shots. When they're "on" they're really ON, but the reverse is true, too. Davidson is exactly the type of team that could give them trouble, because they can and will shoot from anywhere, so Marquette's interior defense is useless against these guys.

Illinios-Colorado: Illinois is sliding, and perhaps back to the mean. Were it not for their win over Gonzaga, they may not be in. They beat Ohio State and Indiana at home, but all season have piled up wins against the bottom of the Conference and basically a terrible non-conference schedule. They've got length and experience, but not sure they've really come together under Groce, who's employed a whole new system with Weber's players. Colorado hasn't really has a bad loss all year, and simply don't beat themselves. They get to the line a lot, but are young and don't have the size. However, Illinois has peaked, IMO.

NC A & T-Liberty: Liberty won the Big South Tournament after posting a 6-10 record and never won two straight games, until of course they won four straight. They're a dangerous team in that they simply shoot well. They'll take a ton of three's and make about 37% of them, and they defend the perimeter fairly well, and are not THAT small. They played Richmond, G-Town, Iona, and Southern Miss, so playing in this game might not be that big of a deal, except to the school. A & T was the dominant team in the MEAC for most of the 70's-90's. winning 15 Championships. Then, of course, they sucked. Until this season they hired Cy Alexander, who owned this Conference w/SC State then left for Tennessee State. He left there in 2009 after getting them some respect, and took this Senior Laden team over this past Spring. They play tremendous defense, but are a bit challenged offensively. Like all games, I would probably have to take the experienced team with the better coach that plays better defense.

Some thoughts on Tuesday's games:

Kentucky-Robert Morris: I simply don't know how Kentucky can be motivated to play in front of 3000 Robert Morris fans. Granted, RM isn't what they were last season, and has to be pissed about losing at home to Mt. St. Mary's, but if this is their consolation it's perhaps the biggest game in school history. And what they do is SHOOT. Almost 38% from deep, and their at home. Don't care what the number is, simply cannot take Ky-Jelly.

Niagra at Maryland: Terps gave it everything they had to win the ACC tournament, which was their only ticket. I wonder how much energy that took, to beat Wake, Duke, and almost beat NC. They were playing well, but now play a MAAC team in a game they probably don't care about. You can bet that Niagra does care. From a motivation standpoint there is no contest here, but Niagra is tiny and young, and I am not sure they can overcome the athletic disadvantage on will alone. They play quick, which could be a curse if they don't start well. With that tiny opening number they're begging for people to take the young Terps. Might have to pass that one.

St. Johns-St. Josephs: St. Joe's has been one of the most consistent teams all season. No real bad losses til the last one of the year at Charlotte, which we called, but that was far more situational than it was talent. Any other Conference but the A-10 and more people would be aware of how solid they are. They more than likely think, and want to, win the NIT.The Johnnies are simply there because they're in the Big East and have a name coach. I suppose they could look at this as a potential "start over". Super young and haven't won a game since D'Aneglo Harrison went down, and with a Freshman PG, I can't see taking them here. St. Joe's did have SOME trouble w.up tempo teams like LaSalle and Umass, but on the road. At home they beat Iona, so yeah, can't go Johnnies here.

LaTech-FSU; How can FSU seriously wanna play this game, and even though LaTech ended the season on a tough note, they've got to think they've got a chance to go deep here. They play fast, more than fast enough to play /wFSU. A little under sized here, but with the defense they can play, they can win this game.

Northeastern-Alabama: Hate to say this, but 'Bama gave it all THEY had to win the SEC because that was obviously their only ticket. They really crumbled down the stretch, losing every road game, and how must they feel after coming closer to the score indicated to beating Florida. They simply did not beat a good team, anywhere, all season. Not sure about N'eastern right now. They handily won the CAA regular season and lost to a hot JMU team, which was also aided by some over confidence, I'm sure. If Alabama isn't at their best, Northeastern is the type of team that could give them issues. NE's defense isn't stout, but 'Bama's offense isn't either, and NE can shoot from over Bama's defense. Alabama is just young enough to make this game close. Clearly they won't have much of a crowd.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

NCAA Tournament First Round preview
By Teddy_Covers

With the madness that is March now in full swing, it’s time to take a look through the brackets.  Today, I’ll offer a quick take on the 28 matchups already set for Thursday and Friday.  Games are listed in rotation order.

Missouri spent the entire season losing close games on the road, falling in OT at UCLA and Kentucky, while dropping games by three points or less at Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU and to Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament.  Larry Eustachy got the most he could out of Colorado State’s talent level this year, but the Rams, too, lost nearly every step-up game on the highway.

As a #3 seed, Marquette is only a 3.5 point favorite over #14 seed Davidson; the shortest 3-14 pointspread in recent memory.  The betting markets clearly respect the Wildcats five upperclassmen starters that started 30 of their 33 previous games together this season.

Butler has won at least the first two games of every single postseason tournament they’ve played since 2010, including runs in the Horizon League and A-10 conference tourney’s, two runs to the championship game in the Big Dance and last year’s run to the CBI semi-finals.  Bucknell’s fellow Patriot League member Lehigh knocked off #2 seed Duke in the first round last year.

Valparaiso has eleven juniors and seniors on the roster, and they’re loaded with size and good shooters.  But Michigan State will have an enormous crowd edge playing in suburban Detroit and Tom Izzo has a pretty darn good history of avoiding first round upsets.

Everyone knows that Akron’s point guard got kicked off the team just prior to their regular season finale.  Everyone knows that VCU’s defensive pressure is their bread and butter, leading the nation in forcing turnovers.  The ‘KISS’ strategy (keep it simple, stupid) was on full display when the TV talking heads broke down this matchup when the brackets were announced on Sunday Night.  So why have we seen some early wiseguy money come in support of the underdog Zips?

Senior point guard Nate Wolters gets the headlines, averaging more than 22 points and five assists per game, but he’s one of four double digit scorers for South Dakota State.  They were good enough to steal a game at New Mexico just before Christmas, but were bad enough to lose by 24 at Minnesota. Michigan does something that few Summit League teams are very good at – they play defense!

When Gonzaga faced Southern in a non-conference tilt three years ago, the Zags won the game 117-72 and won the rebounding battle 54-11.  I know the Jaguars have improved by leaps and bounds in the two years since head coach Roman Banks arrived in Garland, but the Zags had a winning ATS record in the dozen games that they’ve been favored by 15 points or more this year.

Pitt is on a 2-7 ATS run in the Big Dance dating back to 2008, and they’ve lost SU as a favorite in each of their last four NCAA tournament appearances.  Wichita State has ‘Big East’ level size and depth, but lost five times down the stretch by five points or less, repeatedly unable to pull out tight games away from home.

Harvard lost and failed to cover in their opening round matchup against Vanderbilt last year, continuing a long and storied string of SU and ATS failures for the Ivy League’s Bi g Dance entrant.  Steve Alford’s New Mexico squad won the regular season and tournament titles in the strongest mid-major conference in the country for the second consecutive year.

Belmont is loaded with strong three point shooters, including Ian Clark, Trevor Noack and JJ Mann; a trio that combined for better than 40% shooting from beyond the arc this year.  But the Bruins lack of size and consistent string of double digit defeats in the Big Dance gives Arizona a solid chance for redemption following a disappointing 5-5 SU, 4-6 ATS mark in their last ten games.

Oregon gets a friendly, close-to-home venue after winning the PAC-12 tournament title, and Dana Altman’s track record in tournament situations cannot be understated.  That being said, the Ducks weren’t the same team after point guard Dominic Artiz got hurt mid-season – he scored only 20 ponits with 14 assists in six games since his return to the lineup.  Oklahoma State has a clear edge in the backcourt with Marcus Smart and Markel Brown combining for more than 30 points and 10 boards between them.

St Louis was as hot as any team in the country down the stretch: 15-1 SU and ATS in their last 16 games, the lone loss coming in OT at Xavier.  New Mexico State got a lucky draw in the WAC tournament after conference leaders Denver and Louisiana Tech both got upset as double digit favorites in their opening round matchups.

I remember the first meeting between Cal and UNLV very clearly, because I had a Bears ticket at pick ‘em in my pocket.  Trailing by one, UNLV’s Anthony Marshall threw up a last gasp airball in the closing seconds, but Quintrell Thomas grabbed it and scored on a short hook shot with a single second on the clock for a one point Rebel win.  The rematch could be just as close.

Syracuse has three NBA draft picks on their roster (Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland and Brandon Triche), something that correlates extremely well with extended Big Dance runs.  Montana won the Big Sky regular season and tournament titles for the second straight year, hoping to improve on their performance from last year when they lost by 24 against Wisconsin in the opening round.

Duke will surely remember their opening round loss to Lehigh as eleven point favorites from last year, and they’ve only lost one game all season with a healthy Ryan Kelly in the lineup.  Albany lacks any sort of a signature win this year; a team with limited interior size to complement their strong guard play.

Cincinnati wasn’t particularly good down the stretch, losing seven of their last eleven in straight up fashion while going 2-9 ATS.  Creighton, on the other hand, snapped out of an ugly mid-season funk (1-9-1 ATS, losing SU six times during that span) by reeling off five consecutive wins and covers on their way to a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title.

Florida Gulf Coast has only been a D-1 program for six years.  They lost on the road at VCU, Duke, St John’s and Iowa State all by double digit margins, but pulled the upset at home over Miami and covered the spread in all four of their lined games this season.  Georgetown has only two Big Dance wins since 2007, consistent underachievers in March.

Lon Kruger knows Steve Fisher’s Aztecs well from his tenure at UNLV, when his Rebels battled San Diego State for years in a series of ‘down-to-the-wire’ classics.  But Oklahoma did not fare well down the stretch, including bad losses at Texas and Texas Tech.  That being said, San Diego State lacks low post size and they struggled away from home against quality foes in Mountain West play.

NC State has future NBA talent with Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie, two of the five starters who average at least a dozen points a game for the high scoring Wolfpack.  Temple has struggled with poor shot selection from leading scorers Khalif Wyatt and Scootie Randall, and their three point defense has been problematic all year.

Iona has the nation’s third leading scorer, MAAC Player of the Year Lamont Jones, and the nation’s second highest scoring offense (80.7 ppg).  Unfortunately for the Gaels, they’re matched up against a defensive minded, slowdown Ohio State team playing a just short drive from Columbus.

Last year, Iowa State entered the Big Dance with a strong 18-9-1 ATS mark and pulled off a double digit win as an underdog in the first round against UConn.  They were a strong pointspread team again this year, facing off against a Notre Dame team that is just 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS in their last five Big Dance games.

Kansas will enjoy tremendous crowd support against Western Kentucky at the Sprint Center in Kansas City; the same venue where the Jayhawks just won another Big 12 Tournament title.  Western Kentucky won their final three Sun Belt Tournament games by three points or less; every bit as lucky as they were good.

Villanova was a pointspread juggernaut all year, losing ATS only ten times in their thirty lined games.  But North Carolina was a pointspread juggernaut when it mattered most – down the stretch – cashing seven of their last eight prior to the ACC Tournament.

Ole Miss won SU as an underdog against LSU, Missouri and Florida away from home over the past two weeks; an ascending team right now.  Wisconsin is as tough as nails defensively, but their lack of consistent scoring options was on full display in their Big 10 title game loss to Ohio State.

Florida has been remarkably adept at blowing out lesser foes, closing out the regular season on an 11-5 ATS run as double digit chalk.  Northwestern State leads the nation in scoring (82.4 ppg) and have ten players who average at least 15 minutes per game, deep enough to avoid a second half meltdown.

UCLA looked like a completely different team in the PAC-12 Championship Game, the first game they’ve played all year without second leading scorer Jordan Adams (ankle).  Minnesota has the veteran talent to pull off the ‘upset’ as clearly demonstrated by the pointspread --  the #11 seed is favored over the #6 seed.

Miami enters the Big Dance tied with Iowa, St Louis and James Madison as the best pointspread teams in the country this year, all with 11 more covers than non-covers.  Pacific has only one double digit scorer, relying on a ten deep rotation to make up for their lack of size in the paint; bad news against the dominant Hurricanes frontcourt.

Illinois is always capable of knocking off superior foes when sharpshooters Brandon Paul or DJ Richardson get hot from the perimeter.  Colorado pulled the upset over UNLV in the Big Dance last year before getting blown out by Baylor; unable to reach the Sweet 16.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Coaches to Bet
By Mike Rose

Top ATS Teams and NCAA Tournament Coaches

The 2013 NCAA Tournament is here! Before you start to fill out your brackets and place bets on the dance, check out this list of the top NCAA Tournament coaches who are leading their teams to wins and covers consistently in the big dance.

Tom Izzo, Michigan State Spartans – Has there been a better picture of consistency in the dance than Izzo? He only went 1-2 against the spread in last year's dance, but he is 11-7 ATS in the NCAA Tournament since 2008, and that includes two runs to the Elite Eight. The last time MSU was knocked out of the tourney in the first round was back in 2006 when a little school named George Mason went on a magic run to the Final Four.

Brad Stevens, Butler Bulldogs – How's 17-5 ATS in your last 22 postseason games? That's what Butler's record is since the second round of the NIT in 2006, and in there includes a nice run in the CBI last year as well. The Bulldogs of course, have been to a pair of National Championship Games under Stevens, and it's a miracle that he is even still coaching with the boys at Hinkle Fieldhouse. This is shaping up to be another great Butler team this year.

Shaka Smart, VCU Rams – How could we talk about Stevens without talking about Smart? This is another one of these coaches that passed up the big bucks to continue to try to grow his mid-major program, and it has really paid off. The Rams are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games here in the NCAA Tournament, and that's thanks to their patented HAVOC defense, which this season, forced nearly 12 steals and over 17 turnovers per game.

Jim Larranaga, Miami Hurricanes – This is a new experience for Larranaga, as he is used to playing the underdog role with George Mason. However, Larranaga jumped to Miami this year and took over a program that was set to potentially fall into shambles with NCAA sanctions potentially coming. Instead of folding, Larranaga led his team to the ACC regular season and tournament titles, going 20-9-1 ATS in the process. On top of that, the former George Mason boss was 3-1 ATS in his four first round games, which is a good sign for "The U" in Austin on Friday against Pacific.

Bo Ryan, Wisconsin Badgers – The Badgers have made back to back good runs to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, and they are 5-1 ATS to show for their work in those games. This has never been a team that has had great shooters, but stout defenses have been the key. Ryan has been the orchestrator of all of this, and he is sure to be on the prowl for another run to the second week of the tourney this year as well.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

NCAA Tournament Biggest Betting Mismatches: Round of 64

The NCAA tournament presents college basketball bettors with some unique matchups they wouldn’t get anywhere else, which makes the Big Dance ripe with mismatches.

Of course, you see more of these in games involving high and low seeds – like a No. 1 versus a No. 16 – but here are four underlying mismatches that may make or break your bets in the second round.

No. 3 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 14 Valparaiso Crusaders (+10, 127)

Spartans’ home-court edge vs. Crusaders’ Indiana roots

Michigan State wound up in the toughest region in the tournament – the Midwest – but it got the luck of the draw with its first two tournament games scheduled in its home state. The Spartans make the short trip to Detroit to face the Crusaders in the Palace of Auburn Hills Thursday, a homecoming for many of MSU’s players.

Valparaiso is just four hours from Detroit but Michigan basketball fans don’t take kindly to teams from Indiana, whether their names are the Hoosiers or the Crusaders.

"It's going to be a home game for them basically in Michigan," Valpo head coach Bryce Drew told

No. 12 Mississippi Rebels vs. No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (-6, 28)

Rebels’ up-tempo offense vs. Badgers’ slow-motion sets

Ole Miss ranks 10th in the country in points per game (77.9) and fires up an average of 62 shots an outing – fifth most in the land. Wisconsin, on the other hand, attempted just 47 field goals in its 50-43 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game and averages 65.5 points on the season. Someone’s got to give in this West Regional showdown.

The Rebels come into the tournament with a ton of momentum and a chip on their shoulder after winning the SEC championship but only receiving a No. 12 seed for their efforts. Ole Miss is hoping starting point guard Jarvis Summers can return from a concussion and dictate the flow but books seem to think Wisconsin will control the pace with the total set at 128 points – Mississippi’s second-lowest total all season.

No. 4 Saint Louis Billikens vs. No. 13 New Mexico State Aggies (+9, 122)

Billikens’ undersized F Dwayne Evans vs. Aggies’ 7-footer Sim Bhullar

Saint Louis built a ton of buzz heading into March, winning both the A-10 regular season and tournament titles. That success is in part due to 6-foot-5 forward Dwayne Evans, who has stepped up as the Billikens’ go-to scorer in recent games. Evans was recently called a "below-the-rim workaholic” by local reporters, which may not bode well for the SLU junior versus the Aggies’ towering frontcourt.

New Mexico State will plug 7-foot-5, 355-pound center Sim Bhullar in the middle of the paint in order to disrupt Evans. Bhullar averaged 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and swatted more than two blocks per game. Behind him is fellow Toronto native 6-foot-10 forward Renaldo Dixon, who averaged 1.3 blocks in just under 19 minutes a game. The Aggies finished 13th in the nation in swats – 5.5 an outing – and held opponents to 39.8 percent shooting.

No. 5 VCU Rams vs. No. 12 Akron Zips (+7.5, 135.5)

Rams’ pressure defense vs. Zips’ shaky backcourt

VCU leads the nation in steals (11.8 per game) and turnovers forced (19.9 per game). The Rams thrive on their foes' mistakes and turn those into points, a big reason why they shoot 44.9 percent from the field. It’s not too tough when you keep getting fast break layups.

The Zips are a man down heading into the NCAA after starting point guard Alex Abreu was arrested for drug trafficking and suspended before the MAC tournament. Akron had 31 total turnovers in the two games without Abreu and average 13.7 on the year. VCU head coach Shaka Smart was once an assistant for the Zips and knows Akron head coach Keith Dambrot very, very well.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

NCAA Tournament Tidbits                      
By Steve Merril

The 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament is finally here. Below are some quick facts and thoughts to consider when filling out your office bracket.

#1 Success:

Overall #1 seed has won 5 of last 6 NCAA national championships.

In 2011 when #3 seed Connecticut won the title, it was the first time in history that no #1 or #2 seed made the Final Four.

Teams seeded #1 thru #3 have won 30 of the past 34 NCAA Championships:

#1 seed (19 times 56%)
#2 seed (6 times 18%)
#3 seed (5 times 15%)
#4 or worse (4 times 12%)

First Round Dominance:

#1 seeds are 88-0 (100%) SU versus #16 seeds.

#2 seeds are 82-6 (93%) SU versus #15 seeds, however two #15 seeds won last year.

#3 seeds are 78-10 (89%) SU versus #14 seeds

#4 seeds are 69-19 (78%) SU versus #13 seeds

Biggest pointspread upset in NCAA Tournament history occurred last year when #15 Norfolk State (+21.5) defeated #2 Missouri, 86-84.

Odds & Ends:

Georgetown has lost 4 straight times in the first round to a double-digit seeded opponent in the NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas have lost to #10, #14, #11, and #10 seeds (2008-2012).
Oregon is a #12 seed, while UCLA is a #6 seed, despite Ducks being -1.5 favorite and winning the Pac-12 tournament versus the Bruins on a neutral court? A strange seeding which shows how the oddsmakers and the selection committee often have different opinions.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Betting the NCAA Tournament – Profitable Trends and Nuggets
By: David Purdum

Seven coaches who cover (NCAA Tournament records against the spread since 2005)

Michigan’s John Beilein 10-2 ATS

Arizona’s Sean Miller 11-2-1 ATS

Butler’s Brad Stevens 11-4 ATS

VCU’s Shaka Smart 7-1 ATS

Florida’s Billy Donovan 16-7 ATS

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo 15-10-1 ATS

North Carolina’s Roy Williams 19-12 ATS

Five coaches who don’t (NCAA Tournament ATS records since 2005)

Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon 5-11 ATS

Gonzaga’s Mark Few 6-10 ATS

Notre Dame’s Mike Brey 1-6 ATS

New Mexico’s Steve Alford 1-5 ATS

Duke Mike Krzyzewski 8-13-1 ATS

Best, worst, fastest, slowest, tallest, shortest (of NCAA Tournament teams)

Davidson is the best free-throw shooting team at 80.1 percent.

Wisconsin is the worst free-throw shooting team at 63.3 percent.

Michigan commits the fewest fouls, 13.0 per game.

Middle Tennessee State commits the most fouls at 20.6 per game. VCU is next, at 19.9 per game.

Saint Louis (20-9 ATS) has the best record against the spread.

UNLV (13-20 ATS) has the worst record ATS.

Gonzaga has outscored opponents by 18.2 points per game.

Liberty has been outscored by an average of 0.8 points per game.

Syracuse is the tallest team, with a roster averaging 6-foot-7.

Long Island is the shortest, with a roster averaging 6-foot-2.

Iowa State makes the most 3-pointers, 9.8 per game.

New Mexico State makes the fewest 3-pointers, 4.0 per game.

Colorado State is the best rebounding team, out-rebounding opponents by 12.1 per game.

La Salle is the worst rebounding team and has been out-rebounded by an average of three per game.

Michigan turns the ball over the least, only 9.2 times per game.

Villanova turns it over the most, 15.7 per game.

VCU forces the most turnovers, 19.8 per game.

Creighton creates the fewest turnovers, 10.5 per game.

Northwestern State plays at the fastest pace.

Pittsburgh plays at the slowest pace.

North Carolina State has the most NBA prospects with five, according to

10 strength-of-schedule mismatches (strength-of-schedule stats according to

Davidson (261) vs. Marquette (12)

Southern (347) vs. Gonzaga (96)

Albany (323) vs. Duke (11)

South Dakota State (241) vs. Michigan (15)

Florida Gulf Coast (248) vs. Georgetown (29)

Montana (212) vs. Syracuse (13)

Valparaiso (193) vs. Michigan State (1)

Iona (134) vs. Ohio State (9)

Harvard (144) vs. New Mexico (14)

Mississippi (109) vs. Wisconsin (5)

Five at less than full strength

Michigan G Tim Hardaway Jr. tweaked his ankle in an opening loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament. He is expected to play Thursday against South Dakota State.

Colorado State PG Dorian Green missed the Rams’ opening win in the Mountain West Conference tournament with a sprained ankle. He returned in the semifinal game against UNLV and was held to five points and no assists in 18 minutes. He is expected to play Thursday vs. Missouri.

New Mexico State F Tyrone Watson (ankle) has been out since March 9 and is doubtful to play Thursday vs. St. Louis. He is leads the team in assists and is third in scoring.

Temple C Anthony Lee (concussion) has been cleared and is expected to play vs. North Carolina State on Friday.

UCLA will be without starting freshman guard Jordan Adams for the tournament. Adams broke his foot on the last play of the game in the Bruins’ win over Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament.

Conferences’ first-round records since 2005

ACC: 27-10 SU, 19-18 ATS

Big-12: 28-10 SU, 22-16 ATS

Big East: 36-18 SU, 27-27 ATS

Big-10: 28-14 SU, 19-19-2 ATS

MWC: 8-9 SU, 6-9-2 ATS

Pac-12: 22-9 SU, 17-14 ATS

SEC: 20-15 SU, 15-18-1 ATS

How seeds have fared in the first-round since 2005

No. 1: 18-14 ATS

No. 2: 13-17-2 ATS

No. 3: 20-12 ATS

No. 4: 18-14 ATS

No. 5: 16-16 ATS

No. 6: 14-17-1 ATS

No. 7: 17-15 ATS

No. 8: 16-13-3 ATS

Favorites in the first round since 2005: 132-118-6 ATS

Play-in games since 2007: Favorites: 6-5-1 ATS, 9-3 SU

Double-digit first-round favorites since 2005: 44-45-2 ATS, 85-6 SU

Odds & Ends

Florida is the only team to be favored in each of its games this season (minimum 10 lined-games). The Gators were favored by 396.5 points this season, an average of 13.21 points per game. Even with those lofty spreads, Florida went 16-14 against the number.

Since 1998, only three teams, including Kentucky last season, have won the national championship with a losing record against the spread. North Carolina (17-19 ATS) in 2009 and UConn in 2004 (16-18-1 ATS) are the other two. Kentucky finished last season 16-22 against the spread. Three top-four seeds have losing ATS records this season – Michigan State (12-16-2), Michigan (14-16-1) and Marquette (13-14).

Twenty of 24 Iowa State games have gone OVER the total.

22 of 26 Cincinnati games have stayed UNDER the total.

Favorites have won 72.8 percent of NCAA Tournament games since 2005. Favorites are 267-240-9 (52.6 percent) against the spread during that time period.

There have been 113 double-digit underdogs in the NCAA Tournament since 2005. Only five has won straight-up.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Cinderella Schools
By Antony Dinero

It's almost cliché, digging through your couch cushions for enough to make it worthwhile to wire your cousin in Las Vegas that longshot-backer. Shame, shame.

Since you're going to do it anyway, may as well do it right. This is a season where parity has reigned and where someone can indeed defy huge odds by winning their last six games. Here are the teams most likely to yield a nice vacation, limited only to those paying off better than 50/1 (Bet $100 to win $5,000).

The Midwest Region is among the toughest I've ever seen, compounded by seeding mistakes that punished Missouri (75/1) and Oregon (100/1) for key injuries they've now overcome. As a result, you've got two teams capable of making a run that would square off in the Sweet 16 if they survive the opening weekend.

Ninth-seeded Missouri plays a unique pressing style that is going to pose problems for Louisville on short rest. A win over the tournament favorite (9/2) would be a tremendous confidence boost for a team that really didn't take off the way many hoped given all the talent on board. Talented guard Jabari Brown has been inconsistent for the past two months, but he's capable of being a huge X-factor. Due to all the transfers on board, Mizzou is an older team, even able to rely on 22-year-old Alex Oriakhi's championship experience with UConn from 2011.

Oregon, which knows Brown well since he was their top recruit last season, overcame his departure through an infusion of talent in Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi and freshmen Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson. When those guys are all in the mix, the Ducks are 21-4 and they’re fresh off a Pac-12 championship.

On the opposite side of the Midwest bracket, Creighton (100/1) looks most appealing. Although they would potentially have to get through physical Duke and Michigan State, the Blue Jays have Greg McDermott to lean on. No one has had an answer for the All-American, who gets plenty of help from burly center Gregory Echenique and a batch of solid guards.

The other three divisions aren't as loaded, so while the teams aren't necessarily as formidable, the draw will be considerably lighter.

In the South, VCU (50/1) is loaded with veteran talent and a pressing style accurately termed "Havoc" that will test everyone in its path. The Rams have already walked this road before. Head coach Shaka Smart has long surpassed novelty status and is in position to make his seemingly far-fetched belief that Richmond's Virginia Commonwealth University can become a national program come to fruition. Another long run looks likely, since there isn't anyone in the region they can't defeat.

The same can be said about San Diego State (300/1) if they find a way to get consistent offense. Head coach Steve Fisher is a tournament winner who has a driving force in slashing guard Jamaal Franklin and a few shooters capable of sniping a number of upsets. Scoring has been an issue throughout the past few months, so there's a reason they're such a longshot, but they've got a puncher's chance.

In the East, the top candidates capable of shocking the world also consist of a newly minted Atlantic 10 school and a Mountain West power that has had bouts of inconsistency. Butler (100/1) and UNLV (100/1) are at opposite ends and may loom as the biggest threats to top teams Indiana and Miami, Fl.

Brad Stevens and his Bulldogs have already graduated from being talked about as a candidate for a sleeper to being legitimately considered a threat to break through in a third championship game in four seasons. Although Butler has lost a few key cogs, it has game-changing 3-point shooters as part of its equation in Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham, who have combined for 164 makes.

UNLV is led by a future lottery pick in freshman Anthony Bennett and has momentum after winning its league tournament and watching senior Mike Moser look closer to his former self. The Rebels have as much quality size as anyone in the region and has shooters Bryce Dejean-Jones and Katlin Reinhardt to bust zones, necessary given Syracuse's presence. If point guard Anthony Marshall is a factor at both ends, the Rebels have all the pieces to contend with the heavily favored Orange and Indiana.

Lastly, the West often winds up being the wildest, so if you're not sold on Gonzaga or Ohio State, know there are some wild options that would allow you to impress your friends while cashing in.

Seventh-seeded Notre Dame (100/1) is a pretty solid play given its veteran guard play, skilled shooters like Pat Connaughton who come in hot and a traditional center in Jack Cooley to space the floor. Still, there are zanier options that could very well become the talk of the country.

Wichita State's Shockers (300/1) advertise their potential on nickname alone. Forwards Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early are athletes needed to hang with the physical teams in their portion of the bracket. Guard Malcolm Armstead makes it a chore to run offense. Although Pittsburgh and Gonzaga will both be rightfully favored during this opening week, Wichita won't be overmatched.

One final shot in the dark would be to ride 11th-seeded Belmont's pace, efficient offense and ability to bury teams behind a flurry of 3-pointers.  At 1,000/1, the capable Bruins are worth a buck or to for a shot at the greatest Cinderella story ever told. Unlikely, sure, but they are in the most offensively challenged region of the four. Dare to dream if they get by Arizona.

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