College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

College Knowledge

Day games
Duke has to be concerned after losing first ACC tourney game last week to Maryland, only second time in last 11 years they lost first ACC tourney game- they went 8-8 in ACC the other year (’07) and got upset by VCU 79-77 (-7) in a 6-11 first round game, but their concern would be with Saturday’s game, not this one- Albany finished 5th in America East, the #22 league this season. Great Danes lost by 22 at Ohio State, won at Washington, and otherwise played a dismal schedule (#315 non-league/#295 overall), getting lucky they had two home games in league tourney, where they upset top seed Stony Brook after losing to them by 16-5 during season. Blue Devils lost as 2-seed to Lehigh LY; they’re 4-6 vs spread in first round games last 10 years. Over last six years, #2 seeds are 13-11 vs spread in this round. Duke beat Binghamton of America East 86-62 (-22) in this round in ’09.

Wisconsin won its last six first round games; since 2002, they’re 6-2-1 vs spread as a first round favorite. Badgers split pair of games with SEC teams this year, losing 74-56 at Florida Nov 14, then beating Arkansas 77-70 on neutral floor 10 days later- their March 3 home loss to Purdue was only one of their 11 losses that wasn’t to top 30 team. Ole Miss won last five games after a 4-6 skid had them headed to NIT; they came back from down double digits twice in SEC tourney behind two sturdy senior big men and fiery guard Henderson, who has big mouth and the game to back it up. Ole Miss is #7 in country at protecting ball- they played #333 non-league schedule, and have otherwise ordinary resume. Over last five years, underdogs are 10-6 vs spread in 5-12 games, but hard to buck tourney-tested Badgers with Ole Miss squad not used to being here. both teams played Sunday, so quick turnaround not an issue.

Temple is 1-4 in last five first round games; they're 0-3 as underdog in tourney under Dunphy; Owls have senior guard Wyatt who will take a ton of shots- they go how he goes. NC State holds opponents to 29.9% from behind arc (#19 in country); since 1989, they're 7-1 in first round, winning last four by 12-6-9-14 points. Underdogs are 18-6 vs spread in 8-9 games last six years. Wolfpack was overrated in fall, then ripped as disappointment by media that overrated them; State is 20-2 this season vs teams ranked outside top 50. Temple won seven of last eight games overall- they lost to Duke by 23, in only game vs ACC foe. Owls take a lot of 3's; Wyatt/Randall combined to shoot 32% from arc on 403 tries, not very good. State beat UMass by 18, St Bonaventure by 19 in its two games vs A-16 teams this season.

Pacific won Big West title as #2 seed last week, giving retiring Thomason going away present, as he retires after 25 years coaching his alma mater. Tigers are in NCAAs for first time since '06; they won last seven games overall, are 1-3 vs top 60 teams, losing by 20-18-28 points, with upset of St Mary's Nov 23. Big West teams are 0-7 in first round last seven years (2-5 vs spread), with five losses by 12+ points; Pacific was last Big West team to win in tourney, beating Providence in 8-9 game in '05. Miami won ACC title for first time last week, after going 2-3 in last five regular season games; they figure to have letdown here, looking ahead to facing Illinois-Colorado winner Sunday. Three of Miami's six losses are against teams ranked outside top 100; sometimes they play to level of opponent, then pull game out late. Both sides are top 10 in experience.

Creighton makes 42.1% (#1) behind arc, 56.4% (#2) inside arc, one of best offensive teams in country; Bluejays' 58-57 first round win (+1.5) over Alabama LY was their first in tournament since '02. Creighton split six games vs top 50 teams; they started year 17-1, won last five games, but went 5-6 in ugly stretch in between. Over last four years, underdogs are 13-3 vs spread in 7-10 games. Cincinnati is 2-0 in first round games under Cronin; favorites are 4-1 vs spread in his tourney games. Bearcats started season 12-0, beating Oregon/Iowa State/Xavier on neutral floors, but stumbled to 4-7 finish- they scored 55 or less points in seven of last eight losses. Cincy is strong defensive team, with #9 eFG% in country; they hold teams to 30% from arc, block 16% of opponents' shots, so is fascinating to see whether Creighton can get McDermott going inside.

LaSalle won first tourney game since 1990 Wednesday, making 11-21 on arc for an eFG% of 74.5%; they use four guards, spread court, expect its guards to make plays. Explorers are 2-2 vs top 50 teams; Villanova and VCU are best two they had beaten before Boise State win. Over last six years, #4 seeds are 14-10 vs spread in this round. Kansas State is 20-5 in its last 25 games, but they were 0-3 vs Kansas, 20-2 vs everyone else in that stretch; Weber took Frank Martin's players and ran with it- they won 65-62 at George Washington, their only game vs 1-16 foe. LaSalle scored 54-58 points in last two games, had to be thrilled just to get into play-in game, now they've got chance to duplicate VCU's run of couple years ago. Kansas City site has to favor K-State, which plays conference tourney here; Wildcats are 11-2 out of conference, with neutral court win over Florida, losses to Florida and Michigan.

James Madison is ranked lower than every team in Big Dozen, Penn St. included; Indiana is 8-0 vs teams ranked outside top 170, with all eight wins by 31+ points. JMU got off to 1-5 start this year, losing to UCLA by 30, North Dakota State by 22, but they've now won five games in a row but played 26 games in a row vs teams ranked outside top 140. #3 Indiana split its last six games, losing to Wisconsin for 12th straight time in Big Dozen tourney- worst team Hoosiers lost to this season is #53 Butler, a local rival. Over last five years, #1 seeds are 13-7 vs spread in first round games. JMU scored lot in transition vs a lousy LIU defense, won't have that luxury against Hoosiers, whose 44.0 eFG% is #18 in country. Indiana was in tourney LY for first time in five years; they won last two first round games by 13 points each.

Illinois got off to 12-0 start, with 94-64 win over USC its only game vs Pac-12 opponent; they lost 8 of 11 after that, then won five in row, but finished on 2-4 skid. Illini is 10-1 in last 11 first round games, under few coaches, with only loss as 5-seed vs Western Kentucky in '09. Over last four years, underdogs are 13-3 vs spread in 7-10 games. Young Colorado has only one senior in rotation (#311 in experience); they've won four of last six road/neutral games, are 7-4 vs top 50 teams. Buffaloes won first round game LY, upsetting UNLV; they hold teams to 32.3% behind arc, in top-third in country. Illini gets 33.6% of its points behind arc, only make 32.3% of 3's, which is why they've had droughts this year. Buffs played #55 non-league schedule, Illinois #139.

Night games
Second year in row Georgetown gets A-Sun champ in first round; A-Sun teams are 0-9 in tourney, 0-3 vs spread last three years; Florida Gulf Coast is in its sixth year of D-I ball; they went 6-5 against the #40 non-league schedule this year, with 63-51 win over Miami Nov 13, in game Durand Scott missed for 'canes. Eagles lost at Duke by 21, at VCU by 23, Iowa State by 11, but they've won 12 of last 14 games, are #48 in forcing turnovers (22.4% of time). Other than Miami, best team FGCU beat is #118 Mercer (2 of 3). Since 1990, Georgetown is 5-4 vs spread in first round, but they lost two of last three years, as 3/6 seeds. Hoyas have #6 eFG% defense in country (42.8%); other than Porter, it is a young team- when he got in foul trouble at USF, Hoyas got upset. Over last six years, #2 seeds are 13-11 vs spread in this round.

Since 1985, MAAC teams are 3-30 in non-play-in tourney games, losing last four by 8-22-6-19 points; '09 Siena was last MAAC team to win a tourney game, beating Ohio State in double OT, now Buckeyes face an Iona team that has Arizona transfer Jones at guard (23 ppg). Gaels went 6-6 vs #51 non-league schedule, 2-2 vs top 100 teams, losing at LaSalle by 14, St Joe's by 5. Iona went 1-6 in one stretch, with all six losses by 3 or less points, or in OT. Ohio State won last eight games, taking title in Big Dozen tourney; they're 5-1 in first round under Matta, covering last two years in wins by 29-19 points. Buckeyes beat Loyola in first round LY, so this is third time in last five years they've played MAAC team in first round. Iona plays fast, is chaotic and dangerous. Over last six years, #2 seeds are 13-11 vs spread in this round.

Villanova's #9 seed said they made tourney easily; I'm not sure why, but they do lead country in getting to foul line, getting 28.1% of points from charity stripe. Wildcats are young (#275 in experience), don't sub much (#236 in bench minutes); they're 4-6 vs top 50 teams, with all four wins at home. North Carolina won eight of last nine games, losing to Miami in ACC tourney finals; they've won last ten first round games, last losing in first round in '99 to Weber State, but this is first time since '04 they're lower than a 3-seed. Tar Heels are 1-7 vs top 30 teams, 23-3 vs all other teams; Villanova is #45. Over last six years, underdogs covered 18 of 24 8-9 games. UNC is #16 at not fouling so will be interesting to see if the young Wildcats can get points from line. Carolina scored 76+ points in seven of its last eight games.

Northwestern State last made tourney in '06, when they upset Iowa by point in 3-14 game (+7.5), but this Florida team is better than that Iowa club was. Demons lost by 7 at LSU, 13 at Texas A&M, 4 at Oklahoma, 18 at Arkansas; they've won 13 of last 15 games, are deep (#6 in nation in bench minutes) and lead country in scoring. Southland teams are 0-6 in non-play-in games since then (2-4 vs spread) losing by 13-24-15-9-29-12 points. Florida won/covered four of last five first round games, with only loss as 10-seed in 2010. Florida is just 5-4 in last nine games; they beat SE Louisiana of Southland 82-43 in December. Gators score well in metrics, but are 0-6 in single digit games, which means all 26 of its wins are by 10+ points. #3 seeds are 6-2 vs spread last two years, have been upset only once in six years since Northwestern St beat the Hawkeyes.

Other tournaments
Baylor shot 16-23 from arc in 112-66 win over Long Beach Wednesday; Bears won last three games with Arizona State, by 9-3-14 points. ASU lost five of last seven games overall, losing last five true road games.

Iowa won last eight home games, with seven of eight by 8+points. Stony Brook won regular season in America East; they're 1-2 vs top 100 clubs, losing to UConn by 11, Maryland by 7- they won five of last seven on the road.

Amarillosports.com

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

NCAA Tournament Betting Preview: Colorado vs. Illinois
By Erin Rynning
Sportsmemo.com

NCAA Tournament – East Region
Friday, 12:40 pm PT, Austin, Texas
No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Illinois
CRIS Opener: Illinois -1 O/U 128.5
CRIS Current: Illinois -1.5 O/U 126.5
Recommendation: Colorado

It’s been a tale of two seasons for Illinois.  The Illini started the campaign a perfect 12-0, while climbing just short of a top 10 tanking.  Their perfect start to the season included solid wins against Gonzaga and Butler.  But their start doesn’t even tell half of the story, as the Illini finished the season winning just 10 of their next 22 games.  Since the calendar turned to 2013 Illinois simply hasn’t played NCAA Tournament caliber basketball.   To put things into perspective my final Big 10 power ratings featured Iowa five full points better than Illinois, while being rated equal to Purdue!  Obviously, with this type of rating, I’m looking to fade this squad from a value perspective.

In the half-court game the Illini have found scoring much more difficult than their preseason up-and-down-the-floor success.  This figures to be a major issue against Colorado as well.  Illinois is led by senior guard Brandon Paul and his 16.6 ppg, however the Buffaloes can counter with Spencer Dinwiddie as an underrated defender.  In Big Ten play, Illinois averaged just over a point per possession (7th), shot 46% eFG% (7th), and 29.4% from three (11th).  And on the flip side, the Illini weren't great defensively either, allowing 1.02 ppp (7th), 49.7% eFG% (10th), and 35.8% from three (11th).

Colorado also had its struggles offensively but counters with a much stronger defensive profile. For the season the Buffaloes held foes to 40.4% from the floor and boasted the No. 1 defensive efficiency (95.1) in the PAC-12 during league play. In addition, Illinois’ misses could prove even more meaningful as Colorado looks to control the boards.  Andre Roberson is the second leading rebounder in the country at 11.3 rebounds per game and as a team, CU grades out as above average on the glass.  Look for the Illini’s struggles to continue and for the short underdog to advance.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

NCAA Tournament Betting Preview: Cincinnati vs. Creighton
By Andrew Lange
Sportsmemo.com

NCAA Tournament - Midwest Region
Friday, 11:45 am PT, Philadelphia, PA
No. 10 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Creighton
CRIS Opener: Creighton -3 O/U 126
CRIS Current: Creighton -3.5 O/U 128
Recommendation: Cincinnati

Cincinnati's blueprint is pretty straight forward – when the Bearcats shoot the ball well, they are tough to beat. When they don't, the outcome often isn't favorable. And there are plenty of numbers to support that statement. When the Bearcats scored 60 points or more in regulation they were 20-1 SU. When they didn't, 2-10. But it needs to be noted who they were facing. The Bearcats faced seven teams (9 games) that rank in the top 25 in defensive efficiency. In those games, Cinci scored 43, 51, 55, 68, 52, 55, 70, 54, and 58. We know that there is some offensive potential with this squad. Go back to an early season tournament in Las Vegas and we saw the Bearcats net 78 vs. Iowa State and 77 vs. Oregon – two teams somewhat similar to Creighton. The question is can Cinci flip the switch and regain its confidence after spending the better part of two months as one of the worst offenses on the power conference circuit.

Creighton doesn't play great defense. In fact, in Missouri Valley play they allowed over a point per possession (1.02). I felt there were times were situationally Creighton's defense was serviceable but we're still talking about a team that allowed over a point per possession in nearly half of its games. And while the Blue Jays have a ton of offensive firepower, unlike Cincinnati, they weren't going up against elite level defenses on a nightly basis. Wichita State and Northern Iowa were the only two truly quality defenses in the MVC this year and Creighton struggled to score against both away from the friendly confines of the CenturyLine Center. They key to this game is unfortunately something that bettors can't control and that is boys in the black and white stripes. In order for Cincinnati to hang in this game, they'll need to be able to throw their weight around and be physical with players like Doug McDermott and Gregory Echenique. If this game is called tight and a played in the bonus a majority of the time, Creighton has a big edge and deserves to be favored. If we see more of a scrum, Big East-type scenario, I think the step down in class defensively will allow the Bearcats to stick around. Keep in mind, this is not a pick ‘em game, so the lean goes with the underdog at +3.5.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

NCAA Tournament Betting Preview: Temple vs. NC State
By Rob Veno
Sportsmemo.com

NCAA Tournament - East Region
Friday, 10:40 am PT - Dayton, Ohio
No. 9 Temple vs. No. 8 NC State
CRIS Opener: NC State -3.5 O/U 149
CRIS Current: NC State -4.5 O/U 149
Recommendation: NC State

When handicapping NCAA Tournament games, the matchups are an obvious focal point. Fundamental advantages that are seen when examining games will often cause bettors to react immediately and play the side with a perceived on court edge. If there’s one thing you learn after being around the sports gambling circuit as long as I have, it’s that you’d better cross examine everything you feel is in your favor before you make a play. Such is the case in this particular matchup where at first glance this appears to be a hand in glove fit for the NC State Wolfpack. Head coach Mark Gottfried’s crew is universally defined, and rightfully so, to be an extremely talented group that has failed to learn the art of continual focus. They have a tendency to get lazy for segments of a game or even the season. A defensive minded team with a 40 minute concentration level is often a mechanical trigger to fade NC State. However, as we saw in last year’s NCAA Tournament run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed, the Wolfpack has the ability to tighten up their game, become fully focused and defeat balanced, well-schooled teams. That right there is the cross examination answer needed to get to the window with NCSU in this spot.

While they have their lapses, NC State is more than capable of erasing them and beating any team in the country. They’re gifted at the point guard position on each end of the floor with Lorenzo Brown, as rugged as any team inside with forward CJ. Leslie and center Richard Howell, and they can stretch all defenses with the perimeter shooting of shooting guard Scott Wood. Freshmen TJ Warren and Rodney Purvis make significant contributions inside and out respectively. When first handicapping this game I put a star next to NC State because of their sizeable advantage on the interior. What pushes me toward them is they have proven that under the bright lights they can correct their flaw.

Temple is an extremely talented offensive team with arguably the best NBA prospect in this game 6-4 point guard Khaliff Wyatt. The Owls have a strong supporting senior tandem in 6-6 forwards Scoonie Randall and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson. At 6-9, 230 lbs., sophomore Anthony Lee (10 ppg, 7 rpg) is their inside force. They can score with anyone but they have not found a way all season long to fix their problematic defense. Although he’s put together an excellent career resume, head coach Fran Dunphy has been frustrated all season long looking for ways to get better defensive play. Since January 19th, Temple has allowed 70 or more points in 12 of its 16 games. They’re not likely to slow NC State down in this one and in the end, the Wolfpack’s inside power and ability to get necessary stops will be the difference. Figure NC State to win this one in the neighborhood of 78-71.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

Friday's Early Action
By Kevin Rogers
VegasInsider.com

Sixteen teams have been sent home as the second day of the NCAA Tournament begins on Friday. The first batch of contests to lead off the day involves three teams from the ACC (Duke, N.C. State, and Miami), while the lone game without ACC representation showcases Ole Miss and Wisconsin. We'll start the day in Philadelphia as Duke tries to put behind them a devastating loss in last season's first round.

Midwest Regional

(2) Duke vs. (15) Albany


The Blue Devils are in familiar territory as a heavy favorite in a 2/15 matchup, as Duke was tripped up by Lehigh last March in the opening game of the tournament, 75-70. Duke gets a shot at redemption as 18-point 'chalk' at the Wells Fargo Center, in spite of an early exit from the ACC Tournament after getting shocked by Maryland in the quarterfinals, 83-74 as 10-point favorites.

Albany enters this matchup as the champions of the America East conference at 24-10, while posting a 4-2 ATS record in lined games. The Great Danes won the final two games of their conference tournament in the underdog role over Stony Brook and Vermont, as Albany finished in fifth place inside the America East this season. Albany faced just one team that qualified for the tournament in the regular season, falling at Ohio State in mid-November, 82-60 in a non-lined contest.

This is the 20th time this season that Mike Krzyzewski's club has been listed as a double-digit favorite, posting a 10-9 ATS record in this role. The loss to Maryland in the ACC Tournament was the only time the Blue Devils lost straight-up when laying at least 10 points, while Duke owns a 1-4 ATS record in the last five NCAA Tournament games since 2010.

West Regional

(5) Wisconsin vs. (12) Ole Miss

   
The Rebels were sitting on the NCAA bubble heading into the SEC Tournament, but Ole Miss won three games in three days to receive the automatic bid for winning the conference. Andy Kennedy's club rallied twice against tournament squads by beating Missouri and Florida after trailing at the half, as the task doesn't get easier against Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin.

The Badgers fell short to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament championship as short underdog, 50-43, while limiting their fifth straight opponent to less than 60 points. Wisconsin covered just two of seven games away from Madison in the favorite role this season, including outright losses at Marquette and Iowa. Under Bo Ryan, the Badgers have won 10 of 11 opening round games, while compiling a 6-4-1 ATS record.

Mississippi closed the season with an 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS run, which interestingly included losses to two of the worst teams in the SEC, Mississippi State and South Carolina. The Rebels are 5-2 ATS when receiving points, while losing outright to tourney squads Missouri and Florida during the regular season, but avenged those defeats in the conference tournament. This is unfamiliar territory for Ole Miss, who is playing in the Big Dance for the first time since 2002, falling to UCLA in a pick-em spot, 80-58.

East Regional

(8) Temple vs. (9) N.C. State


The Owls saw their seven-game winning streak go up in smoke in a 79-74 defeat to UMass in the Atlantic-10 Tournament. Temple qualified as an at-large squad at 23-9, as the Owls dropped consecutive games only once this season, while winning five of their last seven contests away from the Liacouras Center. N.C. State began this season as the team to beat in the ACC, but finished tied for fourth place in the conference with Virginia at 11-7, while posting a 24-10 record overall.

The Wolfpack is listed as a 4 ½-point favorite in Dayton, as Mark Gottfried's team won eight of their final 11 contests following a three-game skid in early February. Down the stretch, N.C. State cashed six straight 'unders' prior to a pair of 'overs' in the ACC Tournament against Virginia and Miami. In the last six times as a favorite either on the road or a neutral site, the Wolfpack covered just once, while facing only one tournament team in this situation (Oklahoma State in November).

Temple hasn't been the team to back in March Madness over the years, as the Owls are just 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS since 2008 in the NCAA Tournament. Fran Dunphy's club was tripped up by South Florida last March, 58-44 as 3½-point favorites, while exiting the first round in four of the previous five tournaments. The Owls closed the season on a nice 'over' run by hitting in 10 of the final 12 contests, including five straight in the underdog role.

East Regional

(2) Miami vs. (15) Pacific

The Hurricanes were one of the huge stories in college basketball this season by winning both the ACC regular season and tournament titles. UM travels to Austin, Texas looking to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000, coincidentally the same venue in which the 'Canes were eliminated by Tulsa that season. However, Miami has to get through Big West Tournament champion Pacific to get to the round of 32 on Sunday.

The Tigers finished in second place in the regular season inside the Big West at 13-5, while winning seven consecutive games down the stretch to clinch the automatic berth for the tournament. Pacific put together a 16-13-1 ATS record, including a 5-2-1 ATS record in the final eight contests. The Tigers won just one of three times against teams in the NCAA Tournament, beating St. Mary's prior to losses against Gonzaga and Cal.

Miami turned in one of the best ATS records in the country at 20-9-1 ATS, while going 10-6-1 ATS away from Coral Gables. The Canes' offense ran teams out late in the season by posting 'overs' in six of the last eight contests, as UM put up 81 points against N.C. State and 87 against North Carolina in the final two games of the ACC Tournament. Jim Larranaga's squad cashed in two of four opportunities as a double-digit favorite, but none of those four teams qualified for postseason play.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

Friday's Afternoon Action
By Kevin Rogers
VegasInsider.com

The second set of games on Friday afternoon involves eight teams from seven different conferences. The only two teams from the same league are Indiana and Illinois (Big Ten), while two squads needed victories in the First Four just to make it to Friday action (La Salle and James Madison). We'll begin with an intriguing matchup at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia between a Big East club against a tournament veteran from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Midwest Regional

(7) Creighton vs. (10) Cincinnati


The Blue Jays are fresh off their second straight MVC Tournament title after slipping past Wichita State, 68-65 as 1 ½-point favorites. Creighton has won and covered five consecutive contests, but that came following a dreadful 0-8 ATS run throughout most of February. Cincinnati enters the tournament at 3-5 SU and 1-7 ATS the final eight games of the season, including a 62-43 blowout defeat to Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

The Bearcats cashed 'unders' at nearly an automatic rate this season, going 22-4 to the 'under.' Mick Cronin's team put together a 2-4 ATS record in the underdog role, which certainly looks better than the 9-14 ATS mark as a favorite. Cincinnati's offense has struggled to score recently by putting up 61 points or less in six straight contests, while losing five of the last six games away from home.

Creighton is coming together at the right time following a three-game skid in mid-February, including a pair of victories over a Wichita State team that routed Pittsburgh in Thursday's tournament action. The Blue Jays are also an 'under' team, posting a 13-4 mark to the 'under' the previous 17 games. Creighton won its tournament opener last March over Alabama in a one-point triumph, but fell short in the round of 32 to North Carolina, 87-73 as 8 ½-point underdogs.

West Regional

(4) Kansas State vs. (13) La Salle

   
The Explorers needed to beat Boise State in Dayton on Wednesday night just to make it to this point, as La Salle travels to Kansas City for a meeting with K-State. The Wildcats lost to rival Kansas at the Sprint Center for the third time this season in last Saturday's Big 12 championship. K-State returns to this venue in a big home-court advantage spot, especially with La Salle going from Brooklyn (A-10 Tournament) to Philadelphia to Dayton to Kansas City in the span of a week.

La Salle snapped a two-game skid with Wednesday's 80-71 triumph as short 'dogs against Boise State, as the Explorers shot a blistering 63% from the field. The offense picked up after getting shut down by St. Louis and Butler in losses to close the season, while La Salle broke the 72-point mark for the sixth time in eight contests (6-2 to 'over'). The Explorers grabbed just their second cover in eight tries as an underdog in Wednesday's win, but four of those ATS defeats came when receiving less than two points.

K-State is participating in the Big Dance for the fourth straight season, while winning its first game each of the last three times. The Wildcats are playing in their first tournament with Bruce Weber as head coach, as Kansas State cashed in victories over North Texas ('10), Utah State ('11), and Southern Mississippi ('12) in the first round the past three tourneys. This was a very consistent team all season, losing consecutive games only once, while K-State posted a 10-3-1 ATS record the last 14 times as a favorite.

East Regional

(1) Indiana vs. (16) James Madison


The Hoosiers grabbed a top seed in the East, but stumbled down the stretch by splitting their final six contests. All six losses this season for Indiana came against NCAA Tournament teams, as Tom Crean's club looks to take that next step following a Sweet 16 appearance last March. James Madison will attempt to be the first 16-seed to upset a 1-seed, but the Dukes need to slow down an Indiana offense that ranked sixth in the country in field-goal percentage at 48.6%

The Dukes owned the third-best ATS record in the country at 22-10, including covers in eight of the last nine trips to the court. JMU took care of LIU-Brooklyn in the Wednesday's First Four contest in Dayton, 68-55 in a pick-em spot. The Dukes are listed as a double-digit underdog for just the second time this season, as James Madison was trounced in the season opener at UCLA receiving 16 points in a 100-70 loss.

It's obviously tough to compare Indiana's competition in the Big 10 opposite James Madison's foes in the Colonial. The Hoosiers put together an 11-7 ATS record when laying at least 10 points, but two of those non-covers came as favorites of at least 24 points in which Indiana failed to cash by less than three points. In 12 non-conference victories, IU won by an average of 32.8 points per game, although 10 of those victories came in Bloomington.

East Regional

(7) Illinois vs. (10) Colorado


An intriguing matchup closes out the afternoon action in Austin, as the Big 10 meets the Pac-12. Illinois pulled off upsets this season over top seeds Gonzaga and Indiana, while also knocking off Ohio State at home towards the start of conference season. The Illini battled inconsistency throughout Big 10 play, but a 7-4 record down the stretch was enough for an at-large bid.

Colorado won the Pac-12 Tournament last season, while the Buffaloes scratched and clawed their way to an at-large bid with a 21-11 record this season. Tad Boyle's club stepped up with a season sweep of Oregon and a home blowout of Arizona in the final five weeks to improve their tournament credentials. The Buffaloes were one of the best 'under' teams in the country by posting the 'under' in 15 of the final 19 games.

Illinois was a tough team to figure out at times, as John Groce's squad failed to cover five times in the role of a double-digit favorite. However, the Illini compiled a 4-8 ATS record in the last 12 opportunities as an underdog since upsetting Ohio State in early January. The 'under' cashed in eight of the last 11 games for Illinois, while scoring 55 points or less in three of the previous four trips to the court.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

South Regional: Day 2 NCAAB Betting Preview
By Covers.com

No. 2 Georgetown Hoyas vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (+13.5, 123.5)

After losing out on a No. 1 seed, second-seeded Georgetown faces a dangerous Florida Gulf Coast team in the NCAA Tournament’s South Region in Philadelphia. The Hoyas have won 13 of their last 15 games, but they dropped out of consideration for a top seed after losing to Syracuse in overtime in the semifinals of the Big East tournament. No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast earned its first NCAA Tournament bid after beating Mercer in the Atlantic Sun Conference title game.

The Hoyas have been eliminated by a double-digit seed in four of the last five NCAA Tournaments, and they won’t want to underestimate the Eagles. Florida Gulf Coast defeated ACC champion Miami by 12 and were competitive in games against St. John’s and Iowa State. Georgetown features Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr., but his supporting cast might be the key to a lengthy postseason run.

TRENDS:

* Eagles are 7-0 ATS in their last seven neutral site games.
* Hoyas are 1-4 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 13-4 in Hoyas last 17 NCAA Tournament games.


No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 9 Villanova Wildcats (+4, 143.5)


North Carolina and Villanova saved their best play for the season’s final six weeks and hope to continue their recent winning ways in the second round of the NCAA Tournament South Regional on Friday in Kansas City, Mo. Eighth-seeded North Carolina found itself 3-3 in the ACC on Jan. 27, but winning 11-of-14 games vaulted the Tar Heels into the ACC championship. Ninth-seeded Villanova had won seven of 10 before falling to eventual Big East champion Louisville in the conference quarterfinals.

North Carolina’s success is predicated by a balanced offensive attack, with three scorers averaging in double figures. The Tar Heels are third in the nation in assists and tied for 14th in scoring and rebounding. The Wildcats were 13-9 and 4-5 in conference play in early February, but posted victories over Marquette and Georgetown to bolster their case for an at-large bid. The Wildcats are back in the tournament after a seven-year streak of NCAA berths ended last season.

TRENDS:

* Wildcats are 0-4 ATS in their last four NCAA Tournament games.
* Tar Heels are 13-6 ATS in their last 19 NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 4-0 in Wildcats last four NCAA Tournament games.


No. 3 Florida Gators vs. No. 14 Northwestern State Demons (+20, 141)


The last time Northwestern State reached the NCAA Tournament, the 14th-seeded Demons eliminated No. 3 seed Iowa on a 3-pointer right before the buzzer. It's one of the 16 times a 14 seed has beaten a No. 3 in the NCAA Tournament, and Florida is hoping lightning does not strike twice. The third-seeded Gators face the No. 14 Demons Friday in a second-round South Regional NCAA Tournament game in Austin, Texas.

Northwestern State, which last played in the NCAA tournament in 2006, wields an up-tempo assault that averages an NCAA-leading 81 points on 72.9 possessions. Florida hasn't allowed more than 80 points while ranking third nationally in scoring defense (53.7 ppg). The season-high 80 points the Gators yielded in a Feb. 5 loss at Arkansas marked the only time a Florida opponent has scored 70 or more.

TRENDS:

* Gators are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 NCAA Tournament games.
* Demons are 1-5 ATS in their last six non-conference games.
* Over is 12-4 in Gators last 16 NCAA Tournament games.


No. 7 San Diego State Aztecs vs. No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners (+3, 133.5)

Lon Kruger is the first coach to guide five different schools into the NCAA Tournament and he will see a familiar face on the other sideline when 10th-seeded Oklahoma faces seventh-seeded San Diego State on Friday in a South Regional second-round game Philadelphia. Kruger and San Diego State coach Steve Fisher matched wits for seven seasons when Kruger was coaching Nevada-Las Vegas of the Mountain West Conference. Fisher had the edge in the matchups, going 13-5 against Kruger’s UNLV squads.

The Aztecs are part of the tournament field for the fourth straight season, the best such streak in program history. San Diego State struggled down the stretch, losing five of its last nine games and dropping a 10-point decision to powerful New Mexico in the semifinals of the Mountain West tourney. Oklahoma was one-and-done in the Big 12 tourney, falling to Iowa State for its third loss in five games. The Sooners are ahead of schedule with Kruger guiding the school back into the tournament in his second year on the job, ending a four-year drought for Oklahoma.

TRENDS:

* Sooners are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games.
* Aztecs are 6-2 ATS in their last eight non-conference games.
* Over is 5-2 in Aztecs' last seven NCAA Tournament games.


No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (+20.5, 133)

An impressive run through the Big 12 tournament lifted Kansas to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it will take on Sun Belt champion Western Kentucky in the second round on Friday in Kansas City, Mo. The Jayhawks find themselves on the top line for the third time in the last four years and will be trying to reach a second straight Final Four after falling in the championship game to Kentucky last April.

The 16th-seeded Hilltoppers are making their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth in the last six seasons. Western Kentucky has won at least its first game in its last three appearances, but will be challenged attempting to become the first No. 16 seed to knock off a top seed in the men’s tournament. Kansas has won 10 of its last 11 games since a slump at the beginning of February, and will attempt to push the tempo against a Western Kentucky club that got comfortable playing tight, low-scoring games in the Sun Belt tournament.

TRENDS:

* Hilltoppers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight NCAA Tournament games.
* Jayhawks are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
* Under is 19-7 in Jayhawks' last 26 NCAA Tournament games.


No. 6 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 11 Minnesota Golden Gophers (-2.5, 134.5)

UCLA and Minnesota will meet for the seventh time Friday, going head-to-head in the opening round of the South Regional in Austin, Texas. The sixth-seeded Bruins won the Pac-12 regular-season title before losing to Oregon in Saturday’s conference championship game. The 11th-seeded Golden Gophers tied for seventh in the Big Ten before they were ousted in the first round of the tournament by Illinois. Minnesota posted some impressive wins along the way, however, knocking off then-No. 1 Indiana last month and also beating Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State when those teams were ranked.

Minnesota also beat Pac-12 schools Stanford (66-63) and USC (71-57) during the non-conference portion of its schedule. The Bruins won both meetings against Stanford and split with USC this season. The Golden Gophers last played UCLA in the Elite Eight at the 1997 NCAA Tournament. Minnesota won that game but later had to return the profits from its run to the Final Four after an investigation found massive academic fraud within the program. UCLA won the other five meetings, most recently in 1969.

TRENDS:

* Golden Gophers are 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
* Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 6-1 in Bruins last seven NCAA Tournament games.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

East Regional: Day 2 NCAAB Betting Preview
By Covers.com

No. 8 North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. No. 9 Temple Owls (+4.5, 150)

Eighth-seeded North Carolina State, which reached the Sweet Sixteen last year, will take on ninth-seeded Temple on Friday in Dayton, Ohio in an East Region second-round matchup. The Wolfpack reached the semifinals of last week's ACC tournament before falling to eventual champion Miami. The Owls fell in their Atlantic 10 tournament opener to Massachusetts.

Temple is making its sixth straight NCAA appearance, but the Owls haven't advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since 2001. Last year, Temple earned the fifth seed in the East but lost to 12th-seeded South Florida in its opener. The winner of this game will take on the winner of No. 1 seed Indiana's game against the winner of a play-in game between LIU-Brooklyn and James Madison.

TRENDS;

* Owls are 0-6-1 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games.
* Wolfpack are 4-1 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 7-1 in Wolfpack last eight NCAA Tournament games.


No. 2 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 15 Pacific Tigers (+12, 125)

The best season in school history wasn't enough to land Atlantic Coast Conference champion Miami a No. 1 seed. The second-seeded Hurricanes will face Big West champion Pacific in the East Region on Friday in Austin, Texas. The winner will play either seventh-seed Illinois or 10th-seeded Colorado. Both teams come in sizzling as Miami posted its fourth straight win with an 87-77 triumph over North Carolina in the ACC championship game and Pacific has won seven in a row. It's only the seventh NCAA Tournament appearance for Miami and the first since 2008, but coach Jim Larranaga is making his sixth trip to the tourney and took George Mason to the Final Four in 2006.

It's an emotional occasion for Pacific as coach Bob Thomason announced that this season - his 25th at his alma mater - will be his last. Thomason orchestrated a major turnaround after going 11-19 a year ago and has the Tigers in the tournament for the fifth time in his tenure - and the first since 2006. The Tigers' Big West tournament title didn't come easily, as they won their three games by a combined 14 points.

TRENDS:

* Tigers are 9-19-1 ATS in their last 29 neutral site games.
* Hurricanes are 42-17-1 ATS in their last 60 non-conference games.
* Over is 6-0 in Hurricanes last six NCAA Tournament games.


No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers vs. No. 16 James Madison Dukes (+21.5, 136.5)


Indiana lost its hold on the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament thanks to a bit of a late-season fade, but will look to set the stage for a strong finish Friday when it meets James Madison in the second round of the East Regional in Dayton, Ohio. The Hoosiers began the year as the No. 1 team in the country and held the honor at two other points during the course of the season, justifying their lofty status with a 24-3 start.

However, Indiana split its last six games, including its 12th straight loss to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. The finish was enough for the selection committee to send the Big Ten’s regular-season champion away from Indianapolis, but not enough to remove it from consideration as one of the four No.1 seeds. The Hoosiers' reward will be the Dukes, who recorded their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1983 with Wednesday’s 68-55 first-round victory over fellow No. 16 seed LIU Brooklyn.

TRENDS:

* Dukes are 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
* Hoosiers are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 non-conference games.
* Under is 16-6-2 in Dukes' last 24 overall.


No. 7 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. No. 10 Colorado Buffaloes (+1, 126.5)

Momentum will be hard to find when Illinois meets Colorado in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in Austin, Texas. The Fighting Illini, the No. 7 seed in the East Regional, have lost three of their last four games while the No. 10 Buffaloes have dropped three of five. It is a much different scenario from a year ago for Colorado, which roared into the Big Dance after winning four games in four days to claim the 2012 Pac-12 tournament title as the sixth seed.

Illinois defeated two No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament during the regular season - Gonzaga and Indiana - but lost to the Hoosiers 80-64 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Friday. The Fighting Illini, who received a bid despite finishing 8-10 in the competitive Big Ten, sport a strong backcourt led by seniors Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. They will face Colorado's talented sophomore tandem of Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker.

TRENDS:

* Buffaloes are 7-2 ATS in their last nine non-conference games.
* Fighting Illini are 8-18 ATS in their last 26 neutral site games.
* Under is 14-4-1 in Fighting Illini last 19 NCAA Tournament games.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

West Regional: Day 2 NCAAB Betting Preview
By Covers.com

No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Mississippi Rebels (+5.5, 129.5)

Mississippi is fresh off its first SEC tournament title since 1981 and has the type of fearless scorer in Marshall Henderson that can key a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Fifth-seeded Wisconsin, which opens its tournament run against the Rebels on Friday in Kansas City, Mo., is one of the best teams in the country at controlling the tempo with its defense and will force Henderson to take tough shots. No. 12 seed Mississippi is making its first Tournament appearance since 2002.

The Badgers beat a pair of top-10 teams in Michigan and Indiana on back-to-back days before falling to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game Sunday. Wisconsin is making its 15th straight NCAA Tournament appearance and has won its opening game in each of the last seven seasons. Ole Miss had to fight through one of the best defensive teams in the country in its SEC tournament final against Florida and proved it could win without reaching 80 points by taking three tight games in the conference tournament.

TRENDS:

* Rebels are 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall.
* Badgers are 5-1 ATS in their last six NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 5-2 in Badgers' last 7 NCAA Tournament games.


No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats vs. No. 13 La Salle Explorers (+5.5, 131.5)

Despite a loss in the finals of the Big 12 tournament championship game at the Sprint Center, Kansas State’s top hope was to return to the nearby venue for the NCAA Tournament. The selection committee granted the Wildcats their wish and they’ll try to take advantage of it starting Friday when they meet La Salle. While Kansas State suffered its first loss in four games in Kansas City after its conference title-game setback against Kansas, the Wildcats managed to beat Florida there Dec. 22, 2012.

Kansas State, which shared the regular-season conference title with the Jayhawks, reached the regional final round in its only previous appearance as a fourth seed in the NCAA Tournament and will try to make another deep run against the explosive Explorers. La Salle notched its first NCAA Tournament win since 1990 in Wednesday’s 80-71 first-round victory over Boise State – the 59th anniversary of their national championship win.

TRENDS:

* Explorers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games.
* Wildcats are 1-6 ATS in their last seven non-conference games.
* Under is 6-1-1 in Wildcats' last eight non-conference games.


No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 15 Iona Gaels (+14, 145)

Ohio State took kindly to a No. 2 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament and raced to its third Final Four appearance in 14 seasons. The streaking Buckeyes were granted the No. 2 seed once again and will open the tournament against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Iona in the second round Friday in nearby Dayton. Ohio State has won eight straight and seized the Big Ten tournament crown for the third time in four years with a 50-43 win over Wisconsin on Sunday.

The Buckeyes have been doing it with defense, giving up an average of 52.8 points during the winning streak. That style will be tested by the offensive-minded Gaels, who earned an at-large bid last season before squandering a 25-point lead to Brigham Young in a brutal first-round loss - also at Dayton. Iona enters as one of only three teams in the country averaging at least 80 points. It finished tied for fourth in the MAAC before emerging from the tournament with three consecutive close wins. Conference Player of the Year Lamont Jones battled through flu-like symptoms to win tournament MVP honors. The winner of Friday's tilt plays either Notre Dame or Iowa State in the third round.

TRENDS:

* Gaels are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games.
* Buckeyes are 4-0 ATS in their last four neutral site games.
* Over is 4-1 in Buckeyes last five NCAA Tournament games.


No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones (+1.5, 141)

Seventh-seeded Notre Dame looks to slow down high-octane Iowa State in the opening round of the West Regional at Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. The talented Fighting Irish are the last team to beat Louisville, the tournament's overall No. 1 seed, in one of the most memorable games of the season. Notre Dame clipped the Cardinals' wings 104-101 in a five-overtime thriller in February.

Iowa State, the 10th seed, got off the NCAA bubble with a win over Oklahoma in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. The Cyclones are a whirlwind on offense, ranking fourth in the nation in scoring at just under 80 points a game. Iowa State had its season derailed by Big 12 champions Kansas. The Jayhawks beat the Cyclones in overtime twice in the regular season before knocking them out of the conference tournament.

TRENDS:

* Cyclones are 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference games.
* Fighting Irish are 0-5 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 8-1-1 in Fighting Irish's last 10 NCAA Tournament games.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

Midwest Regional: Day 2 NCAAB Betting Preview
By Covers.com

No. 2 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 15 Albany Great Danes (+18, 132.5)


Duke lost a chance at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by falling to Maryland in its opening game of the ACC tournament. Still, the Blue Devils are well-positioned for a run at a national title, earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Midwest Regional. Duke will open against America East champion Albany on Friday in Philadelphia. The Blue Devils have not lost to a non-conference opponent, but they have the memory of last season's stunning first-round ouster by Lehigh - when they were also a No. 2 seed.

Albany was a middling 9-7 in conference play but squeezed out three straight narrow victories in the America East tournament, including a 53-49 win over Vermont in the title game, to secure its third NCAA berth and first since 2007. The Great Danes, who set a school record for victories, appear hopelessly overmatched against Duke, but they have a favorable slice of history. As a No. 16 seed in Philadelphia in 2006, Albany led top-seeded Connecticut by 12 points in the second half before succumbing.

TRENDS:

* Great Danes are 7-1 ATS in their last eight neutral-site games.
* Blue Devils are 1-4 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 5-0 in Great Danes last five neutral site games.


No. 7 Creighton Bluejays vs. No. 10 Cincinnati Bearcats (+3, 128)


All eyes will be on All-American Doug McDermott as seventh-seed Creighton battles No. 10 Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional at Philadelphia on Friday. McDermott, second in the nation in scoring with an average of 23.1 points, has carried the Blue Jays from the obscurity of the mid-major ranks to No. 24 in the final regular-season poll.

The Bearcats, hailing from the powerful Big East, had a strong start to the season but needed a win in the postseason tournament to feel safe about its NCAA bid. Cincinnati won its first dozen games of the season to climb into the Top 10 in the national rankings. But Cincinnati struggled at times in conference play finishing 9-9 in the regular season before dispatching Providence in what appeared to be an important game in the first round of the Big East tournament.

TRENDS:


* Bearcats are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral-site games.
* Bluejays are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 non-conference games.
* Over is 9-4 in Bearcats last 13 NCAA Tournament games.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Friday, March 22

Friday's Prime-Time Tips
By Brian Edwards
VegasInsider.com

Florida Gulf Coast vs. Georgetown

This is a 2/15 matchup in Philadelphia with the winner advancing to face the winner of San Diego St. vs. Oklahoma. Most books are listing Georgetown (25-6 straight up, 16-11 against the spread) as a 13.5-point favorite with a total of 123 ½. Gamblers can take the Eagles to win outright for a +800 payout (risk $100 to win $800). Remember, two No. 15 seeds (Norfolk St. over Missouri and Lehigh over Duke) advanced in last year’s tournament.

Georgetown made the Big East Tournament semifinals by pounding Cincinnati 62-43 as a four-point ‘chalk’ in the quarterfinals. Fittingly, the Hoyas faced Syracuse one last time at MSG in NYC and fittingly, 40 minutes settled nothing. In overtime, the ‘Cuse captured a 58-55 win as a one-point underdog. Makael Hopkins scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the losing effort.

Florida Gulf Coast (24-10 SU, 4-0 ATS) won the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament with an 88-75 win over Mercer as a 5.5-point underdog. (Mercer won at Tennessee in its NIT opener Wednesday night and also won outright at Alabama and at FSU during the regular season). Brett Comer was the catalyst with 21 points, five assists and three steals. Sherwood Brown added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Florida Gulf Coast faced four RPI Top 50 teams during the regular season. The Eagles beat Miami 63-51 in Fort Myers, but they lost 80-57 at VCU, 88-67 at Duke and 83-72 at Iowa St. Andy Enfield’s team lost 79-68 at St. John’s.

John Thompson III’s squad has been a double-digit favorite five times, compiling an abysmal 1-4 spread record. However, we should point out that the Hoyas are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games.

Georgetown sophomore forward Otto Porter enjoyed a breakout campaign. Porter averaged team-highs in scoring (16.3 points per game), rebounding (7.4 RPG), field-goal percentage (48.9%) and steals (1.9 SPG) while producing a 76/45 assists-to-turnovers ratio.

The ‘under’ is 7-3 in the Hoyas’ last 10 games, 14-10 overall.

TBS will have the telecast from Wells Fargo Center at 6:50 p.m. Eastern.

Iona vs. Ohio State


Most shops have installed No. 2 seed Ohio St. (226-7 SU, 19-11-1 ATS) as a 14-point favorite with a total of 145. The Gaels are +900 on the money line (risk $100 to win $900).

Iona (20-13 SU, 15-15-1 ATS) has won five in a row and has posted a 5-1-1 spread record in its last seven outings. The Gaels won the MAAC Tournament with a 60-57 win over Manhattan as a four-point favorite. The game will be remembered forever in the minds of gamblers after Iona fans rushed the court before the game ended, prompting officials to issue a technical foul on the Gaels. After a 3-pointer by the Jaspers cut the deficit to 60-55 with one tick remaining, the fans stormed on the floor. When the court was cleared, Manhattan hit a pair of free throws for the incomprehensible backdoor cover. Tre Bowman scored a team-high 20 points for Iona.

In a First Four matchup against BYU in last season’s NCAA Tournament, Iona allowed a 25-point lead to get away in a 78-72 loss as a two-point underdog. Lamont ‘Mo-Mo’ Jones played one of the worst games of his career, finishing with only six points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field. Jones missed all six of his attempts from 3-point range and had zero assists compared to three turnovers. Sean Armand scored 10 points.

Jones and Armand give Iona one of the nation’s most underrated backcourts. Jones averages 23.0 points, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while Armand scored at a 16.6 PPG clip. Jones has made 88.7 percent of his free throws.

Jones will face one of the nation’s premier perimeter defenders in Ohio St. junior guard Aaron Craft, who has a team-high 66 steals. Craft’s defensive prowess isn’t done justice by his steal numbers. He almost always maintains great position, takes charges galore and contests every shot attempt.

Ohio St. went to the Final Four last year before getting beaten by Kansas in the national semifinals at the Superdome. Thad Matta brings a 20-10 career record (67%) into this year’s event.

Ohio St. garnered a No. 2 seed by winning last weekend’s Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago. The Buckeyes won a 50-43 decision over Wisconsin in the finals, hooking up their backers as 1.5-point favorites. Deshaun Thomas scored a game-high 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds.

Thomas averages a team-high 19.5 PPG. He has a smooth lefty stroke with excellent range. Thomas can create off the dribble and knock down shots coming off screens.

Ohio St. owns an 8-7 spread record as a double-digit favorite. Meanwhile, Iona has a 6-3 spread record as an underdog, but this is the Gaels’ first game as double-digit ‘dogs.

The ‘under’ is 18-12 overall for the Buckeyes, 7-1 in their last eight games.

The ‘under’ is on a 5-2 run for Iona, but the ‘over’ is 13-9 overall.

These schools met in December of 2008 with the Buckeyes winning by a 71-53 count as a 16-point home favorite.

Tip-off is in Dayton is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

Villanova vs. North Carolina

Most books are listing North Carolina (24-10 SU, 20-12 ATS) as a four-point favorite for this 8/9 matchup in Kansas City. The total is 142 or 142 ½ and the Wildcats are +160 on the money line (risk $100 to win $160).

Roy Williams led his team into the ACC Tournament finals last weekend before losing 87-77 to Miami in Greensboro. The Tar Heels played three games in three days, beating FSU (83-62) and Maryland (79-76) prior to Sunday’s setback to the Hurricanes.

Villanova (20-13 SU, 19-10-1 ATS) has thrived as an underdog with a 10-6-1 spread record in 17 such spots. The Wildcats beat St. John’s 66-53 as 4.5-point favorites at the Big East Tournament before losing to Louisville (74-55) in the quarterfinals.

North Carolina and Villanova have quite a history in the NCAA Tournament. On its way to the 1985 NCAA title, eighth-seeded Villanova beat No. 2 seed UNC by a 56-44 count at the South Region finals in Birmingham. In 2005 at the Carrier Dome in the East region semifinals, UNC won a 67-66 decision after getting the benefit of a couple of calls by the officials in the final minute. The Wildcats easily covered the number as 11-point underdogs. The Tar Heels beat ‘Nova again at the Final Four in 2009 when Ty Lawson led his team to an 83-69 win with 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and a pair of steals.

UNC has an 8-5 spread record in 13 games as a single-digit ‘chalk.’

Williams is one of the best coaches in NCAA Tournament history, compiling a 61-20 record (75.3%). He took the Tar Heels to the Elite Eight last season before losing to his former team, Kansas. If KU and UNC win Friday, they will square off again on Sunday.

Even though the ‘over’ has hit in its last three games, the ‘under’ is 17-15 overall for UNC.

The ‘over’ is on a 4-1 run in Villanova’s last five games, but the ‘under’ is 16-12 overall.

Tip-off is slated for 7:20 p.m. Eastern on TNT at Sprint Center.

Florida vs. Northwestern State

This is a 3/14 South Region showdown in Austin. Most books are listing Florida (26-7 SU, 16-14 ATS) as a 20.5-point favorite with a total of 141.5. The total has been on the rise since opening at 140. Gamblers can take the Demons to win outright for a 40/1 payout at 5Dimes.

Billy Donovan’s team beat LSU (80-58) and Alabama (61-51) to advance to the SEC Tournament finals in Nashville last weekend. The Gators raced out to a 38-26 intermission lead over Ole Miss on Sunday, but the Rebels rallied to capture a 66-63 win as an 11.5-point underdog. Mike Rosario had 18 and nine rebounds for UF in the losing effort.

Donovan has now taken Florida to the NCAA Tournament 13 times in his 17-year tenure. He owns a 28-10 career record (74%) in the NCAA Tournament, taking the Gators to the Elite Eight the past two seasons. Donovan has led UF to the finals three times, winning it all twice in 2006 and ’07.

Northwestern St. (23-8 SU, 1-2 ATS) is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 when it upset Iowa on a 3-pointer from the corner in the final seconds. The Demons made the field thanks to a 68-66 win over Stephen F. Austin as five-point underdogs in the Southland Conference Tournament finals. Shamir Davis scored a team-high 19 points for the winners.

Northwestern St. faced three SEC teams during the regular season, losing 102-95 at LSU, 78-65 at Texas A&M and 79-61 at Arkansas.

Northwestern St. leads the nation in scoring, averaging 81.0 points per game. The Demons allow 71.2 PPG. They have depth galore with 10 players averaging more than 15 minutes per game. Four players are scoring in double figures led by DeQuan Hicks, who 14.1 points and 5.8 rebounds while making 58.6 percent of his shots from the field.

Florida has posted a 14-10 spread record in 24 games as a double-digit ‘chalk.’

Totals have been an overall wash (1-1-1) in Northwestern St.’s three games that were lined.

The ‘under’ has cashed in eight of UF’s last 10 games and is 16-11 overall.

TruTV will have television coverage at 7:25 p.m. Eastern.

B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets

Harvard collected its first NCAA Tournament win in school history Thursday night by eliminating third-seeded New Mexico, 68-62. The Crimson won outright as an 11-point underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a +500 return (paid $500 on $100 wagers).

If Northwestern wasn’t already targeting Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker to replace Bill Carmody, it is now. Other potential candidates for the Wildcats include Duke assistant Chris Collins and Valpo’s Bryce Drew.

Harvard is now 8-2 ATS in 10 games as an underdog this season.

Steve Alford has now lost to Northwestern St. and Harvard in NCAA Tournament shockers.

Speaking of Valpo, it trailed by 20-plus points for much of Thursday’s loss to third-seeded Michigan St. But the Crusaders mounted a furious last-minute rally to give their backers a miracle push in the 65-54 setback as 11-point underdogs (late action prompted many books to close the line at 10.5 or 10 but the number was 11 nearly all week).

As of early Friday morning, most books had Michigan St. installed as a 5.5-point favorite versus Memphis. The Tigers nearly handed Saint Mary’s a victory with foolish turnovers in the final minute, but they survived when Matthew Dellavedova missed a 3-pointer from out of the corner at the horn. Josh Pastner’s first NCAA Tournament win came by a 54-52 score with Memphis covering the spread as a 1.5-point favorite.

Best Game on Saturday: VCU vs. Michigan. Can’t wait!

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