College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

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VCU forces turnovers on 28.8% of possessions, #1 in country, but best team they've beaten is #34 Memphis- they're 0-5 vs top 30 teams, with losses by 3 to Missouri, 2 to Wichita. Rams won 10 of last 13 games, with only losses to Saint Louis/Temple, teams with outstanding guards. Michigan is #338 team in experience, but they have outstanding guards, turning ball over only 14.4% of time, least in country. Wolverines (two juniors, no seniors in rotation) are 7-6 in last 13 games, after 20-1 start to season; six of its seven losses came vs top 10 teams. Wolverines won Thursday when South Dakota State played four starters 40 minutes and wore down late. VCU is going to try and wear Michigan down here.

Since 1998, Michigan State is 10-1 in second round games, with loss in '07 to #1 seed UNC. Spartans won four of their last five games, drubbing Valparaiso team in first round that is most experienced team in country; State rebounded 20 of its 35 missed shots in that game- they played the toughest schedule in country. Memphis blocked 12 shots in getting Josh Pastner his first tourney win, holding off St Mary's 54-52; Tigers are 1-3 vs top 25 teams, losing by 13-9-9, with loss to Minnesota of Big Dozen in there. Before beating #21 St Mary's, best team Memphis had beaten was #59 Southern Miss. Over the last seven years, #3 seeds are 9-5 vs spread when facing a 6-seed in second round. Playing in Auburn Hills can’t hurt Spartans.

In its last two games, Louisville had 44-10 run vs Syracuse, then waxed NCA&T by 31, forcing 27 turnovers; since '93, Cardinals are 7-1 in 2nd round games, winning last four by 22-30-7-3 points. Since '05, favorites of 10+ points in second round are 11-6 vs spread. Colorado State starts five seniors, is top rebounding team in country (#2 on offensive, #1 on defensive boards), but they're #308 team in bench minutes, so Cardinal club that forces turnovers 27.6% of time (#2 in US) will attempt to wear them down. Over last four years, #1 seeds are 10-5-1 vs spread in this round. Louisville fans will turn Rupp Arena into a Cardinal home arena, at least for two hours.

Harvard is first #14 seed to win since Ohio U three years ago; over last 28 years, #14 seeds are 5-9 vs spread in second round, losing last five such games by 15-9-8-13-15 points (0-5 vs spread). Crimson is #2 in the country at getting to foul line; they're 1-2 vs top 50 teams, losing by 10 at Memphis, 1 at St Mary's, before upsetting New Mexico Thursday in first round. Arizona is 11-2 in second round games, losing as 8-seed in '06, 1-seed in '00; they outrebounded Belmont 44-18 Thursday; Bruins are similar team to Harvard. Wildcats are 6-5 in last 11 games after 20-2 start; they are 15-1 vs teams ranked outside top 80 (Harvard is #93). Since '05, second round double digit favorites are 11-6 against spread.

Saint Louis had rough 3-3 start, but is on 16-1 run now- they've got four juniors, three seniors in rotation, are in top 20 in nation at getting to foul line. Billikens held New Mexico State to 28% from floor Thursday; they force turnovers 23.5% of time, hold teams to 32.1% behind arc. Oregon was 17-2 when PG Artis hurt his foot; they went 5-4 while he was out, are 5-2 since he came back, but he played only 17 minutes vs Oklahoma State, as he/Loyd are splitting position. Ducks turn ball over 21.7% of time. Billikens are #30 team in country in experience. Since 2007, second round favorites of less than 5 points are 23-18 vs spread. Since '03, #12 seeds are 8-4 vs spread when facing a #4 seed.

Butler (+4) beat Marquette 72-71 on Maui Nov 19, game they trailed by 5 with 2:01 left; Clarke hit runner at buzzer for win. Bulldogs are 10-6 in last 16 games after a 16-2 start; both teams shot 57% inside arc in that Maui game, Butler was +7 in turnovers (7-14). Butler is 7-1 in last eight games as tournament underdog. Marquette was down 54-48 with 1:10 to play Thursday, pulled out unlikely win over Davidson, going 3-3 from arc in last 1:10, after being 1-12 before that. Butler outscored Bucknell 25-5 on foul line in first round, but trailed 37-31 with 10:17 left, before finishing game on 37-19 run. Over the last seven years, #3 seeds are 9-5 vs spread when facing a 6-seed in second round.

Since 2006, Gonzaga is 2-6 in second round games, losing in this round last three years by 22-22-7 points (as 8-11-7 seed, though); Zags looked tight in first round, outscoring Southern 8-2 in last 3:00 for 64-58 win, a very difficult game, Zags' 13th win in row- they played four starters 32+ minutes. Wichita was 33-41 on foul line 73-55 win over Pitt, a brickfest where both teams shot under 36% inside arc, but surprisingly easy win for Shockers. Over last four tourneys, #1 seeds are 10-5-1 vs spread in this round. Since '08, second round favorites of 5+ points are 27-15-2 vs spread. Gonzaga is 6-2 vs top 40 teams, losing to Illinois/Butler, beating St Mary's three times for half of those six wins.

Mike Montgomery is great coach, having coached Warriors in NBA, but does Cal have players who can finish inside vs Syracuse 2-3 zone? Bears hardly sub; they get 62% of points on 2-pointers (#5 in country), which suggests they do, but Syracuse blocks 19.1% of opponents' shots, #1 in country, and hold teams to 29.1% on arc. Orange is 5-5 in last ten games; they're 20-2 vs teams ranked outside top 50, losing to UConn/Temple. Cal won eight of last ten games, will have crowd on its side since they're 45 miles from home here. Syracuse rebounded from its collapse in Big East final by crushing banged-up Montana in first round; Since '03, #12 seeds are 8-4 against the spread when facing a #4 seed.

Other tournaments
-- One of Stanford's players is from Alabama; Cardinal is excited to be playing there, in front of his family- they lost to Missouri by 8, in only game vs an SEC team. Bama won three of last four games; they beat Pac-12's Oregon State by 3, in only game vs that league.
-- Rider won six of last seven games, losing in MAAC tourney by point to Fairfield; Broncs lost by 13 at SMU, its only game vs a C-USA foe. East Carolina won five of last seven games, beating Savannah State by a point in opener of this tournament.

-- Eastern Kentucky forces turnovers 25.8% of time, #8 in country, are #2 foul shooting team- teams shoot 53.2% inside arc against them (6th-worst in US). Evansville won two of three vs OVC teams this season, with all three games decided by exactly 12 points.
-- Bradley is 4-8 in its last 12 games, beating Green Bay by 6 in opener of this tournament; Braves played #332 non-league schedule despite it being #32 in experience, which is why they're 17-16. Tulane lost five of its last seven games, and six of its last eight on foreign soil.
-- Ill-Chicago is 4-7 in its last 11 games after beating local rival Chicago State by 11 in tourney opener. Northern Iowa won eight of its last 11 games, beat Milwaukee by 11 in only game vs Horizon foe. Panthers are 8-1 in their last nine home games, with only loss to Denver.

-- Youngstown beat defenseless Oakland 99-87 last game, after scoring 64 or less points in four games before that; Penguins don't sub a whole lot (#331 in bench minutes). Canisius is 9-6 in its last 15 games; they're in top 20 in 3-point percentage, making 38.7%).
-- Air Force won at Hawaii without top scorer Lyons (knee, out); they beat Montana State by 14, in only game vs Big Sky foe. Weber State had easy time in crushing Cal Poly 85-43, its 14th win in last 15 games, but watching Montana go in tank vs Syracuse couldn't have felt too good.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

Saturday's Early Action
By Kevin Rogers
VegasInsider.com

Half the teams in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field have been bounced, as the matchups start to get a little bit better heading into Saturday. The two contests taking place at the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit involve Michigan schools with both Michigan State and Michigan taking the court in separate contests. We'll take a look at the Wolverines first who tip things off against the champions of Conference USA.

South Regional

(4) Michigan vs. (5) VCU


Both the Wolverines and Rams are fresh off blowouts in second round action to kick off the tournament on Thursday. Michigan routed upstart South Dakota State from the Summit League, 71-56 to cash as 11½-point favorites. The Wolverines shot 50% from the field, as the duo of Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. each put up 21 points in the victory. Star guard Trey Burke was limited to just six points on 2-for-12 shooting, but Michigan busted the game open after outscoring the Jackrabbits, 41-30 in the second half.

VCU isn't a surprise team in March Madness following its unlikely run to the Final Four in 2011. The Rams took care of MAC champion Akron in the second round, 88-42, as the Rams built a 50-25 cushion at the half to easily cash as 7½-point favorites. Everything seemed to go right for Shaka Smart's club, which shot a blistering 54% from the floor, while limiting Akron to just 35% shooting.

The Rams owned a 1-3 ATS record in the role of an underdog this season, as the three losses came to St. Louis (twice) and Duke. VCU put together a 6-13 ATS record down the stretch, but the Rams won eight times and didn't cover since the start of January. This is the third straight NCAA Tournament in which the Rams reached at least the round of 32, as VCU is 7-1 ATS as an underdog in the tourney under Smart.

Michigan has been a horrible team to back the last two months, as John Beilein's team owns a 3-10 ATS record the past 13 contests. All three covers came as favorites of at least 9½ points, as the Wolverines are 0-7 ATS the last seven times when laying seven points or less. Michigan is listed as a three-point favorite, as the total is set at 142½.

Midwest Regional

(3) Michigan State vs. (6) Memphis


The Spartans put together one of the better defensive efforts in the tournament opening victory over Valparaiso on Thursday, 65-54 as 9½-point favorites. Michigan State limited Valpo to 35% shooting, while allowing the Crusaders to score just 18 points in the first half. Tom Izzo's team will step up in class as the Spartans take on C-USA champ Memphis, who survived a late scare from St. Mary's.

The Tigers held off the Gaels, 54-52 to barely cash as 1½-point 'chalk,' as St. Mary's missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. Josh Pastner's club held a 10-point halftime lead and withstood St. Mary's rally in spite of the Gaels shooting just 33% from the floor. Memphis won its seventh straight game and advanced to the round of 32 even though it was held to a season-low in points.

Michigan State split its final eight games of the season, but three of those losses came by four points or less to Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio State. The Spartans are on a solid 6-1 run to the 'under' the last seven contests, while holding six straight opponents to 61 points or less. Since 2008, Michigan State is 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in the round of 32, including last season's four-point escape past St. Louis.

Memphis has lost just once since mid-December, falling at Xavier on February 26. The Tigers are 25-1 SU and 13-11 ATS in the last 26 games, while being listed as an underdog for the third time in this stretch (2-0 SU/ATS). Under Pastner, Memphis is just 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS in three NCAA Tournament action, while looking for its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2009.

The Spartans are 5½-point favorites, while the total is listed at 130½.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

Saturday's Four-Pack
By Brian Edwards
VegasInsider.com

Colorado State vs. Louisville

This is a 1/8 matchup in the Midwest Region at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY. As of early Friday night, most betting shops had Louisville (30-5 SU, 21-14 ATS) installed as an 11-point favorite with the total in the 134-135 range. Gamblers can back the Rams to win outright for a +550 payout (risk $100 to win $550).

Rick Pitino’s squad took the cash in Thursday’s 79-48 win over North Carolina A&T as a 26-point favorite. Junior guard Russ Smith led the way for the winners with 23 points and eight steals, as he buried 10-of-16 shots from the field.

U of L owns a 14-7 spread record in 21 games as a double-digit favorite.

Louisville has won 11 straight games and hasn’t tasted defeat since losing in five overtimes at Notre Dame on Feb. 9. The Cardinals are 9-2 ATS during this span, hooking up their backers in eight straight outings.

Colorado St. (26-8 SU, 14-15-1 ATS) has been an underdog eight times this season, compiling a 4-4 spread record.

Larry Eustachy’s squad advanced past ninth-seeded Missouri by virtue of Thursday’s 84-72 win over Missouri as a 2.5-point underdog. Dorian Green, who was slowed by a sprained ankle at last week’s Mountain West Conference Tournament, proved to be a fast healer. The senior guard exploded for a game-high 26 points to lead the Rams to a dominant victory.

Even with Thursday’s cover against Mizzou, Colorado St. is still in midst of a 3-8-1 ATS slump in its last 12 games.

The ‘over’ has hit in five consecutive Louisville games to move over .500 for the season (15-14 overall).

The ‘over’ is on a 7-0-1 run in Colorado St.’s last eight games. The ‘over’ is 12-9-1 overall for the Rams.

Tip-off is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

Harvard vs. Arizona

This is a 6/14 showdown in Salt Lake City. Most spots are listing Arizona (26-7 SU, 15-16 ATS) as a 10-point favorite with a 133-point tally. Bettors can back the Crimson on the money line for a +450 payout (risk $100 to win $450).

Harvard (SU, ATS) won its first NCAA Tournament game in school history Thursday night, beating third-seeded New Mexico from start to finish in a 68-62 triumph. Tommy Amaker’s team won outright as a 10.5-point underdog, hooking up money-line supporters with a gorgeous +550 return. Wesley Saunders scored a team-high 19 points, while Laurent Rivard added 17 points by splashing the nets from 3-point land five times.

Sean Miller’s squad cruised to an 81-64 win over Belmont as a 4.5-point ‘chalk.’ Mark Lyons scored a game-high 23 points for the Wildcats, who got 12 points apiece from Nick Johnson, Kevin Parrom and Kaleb Tarczewski. The 145 combined points slipped ‘over’ the 139-point total.

Arizona has been a double-digit favorite 14 times this year, posting a 7-7 spread record.

Harvard owns a stellar 8-2 spread record in 10 games as an underdog this year. The Crimson has produced a 5-0 spread record as a double-digit ‘dog.

The ‘under’ is 17-10-1 overall for Arizona.

Totals have been an overall wash (11-11) for Harvard, but the ‘under’ is 6-3 in its last nine contests.

TNT will have the telecast from Energy Solutions Arena at 6:10 p.m. Eastern.

Oregon vs. Saint Louis

Most spots are listing Saint Louis (28-6 SU, 22-10 ATS) as a four-point ‘chalk’ with the total in the 123-124 range. The Ducks are +160 on the money line.

Saint Louis is in the midst of an incredible run with a 16-1 record both SU and ATS in its last 17 games, with the only loss coming in overtime at Xavier. The Billikens dominated an athletic New Mexico St. team in Thursday’s 64-44 win as 8.5-point favorites. Dwayne Evans was the catalyst with 24 points (11-16 FGs) and six rebounds. Cody Ellis drilled 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and finished with 12 points and six boards.

Jim Crews’s team owns an amazing 14-1 spread record in 15 games as a single-digit favorite.

Oregon (27-8 SU, 14-18-1 ATS) advanced to the round of 32 by stroking Oklahoma St. by a 68-55 count as a two-point underdog. Damyean Dotson scored a game-high 17 points for the Ducks. Arsalan Kazemi dominated the glass and finished with a double-double (11 points and 17 rebounds).

Dana Altman’s club has been an underdog nine times, cashing tickets at a 5-4 ATS clip.

The ‘under’ is 16-11 overall for Oregon.

The ‘under’ has connected in five straight games to improve to 13-10-1 overall.

TBS will provide television coverage at 7:10 p.m. Eastern.

Butler vs. Marquette

Most books are listing Marquette (24-8 SU, 13-15 ATS) as a two-point favorite with a total of 127. Bettors can take the Bulldogs on the money line for a +120 return (risk $100 to win $120).

Butler head coach Brad Stevens’s career NCAA Tournament record improved to 12-4 (75%) thanks to Thursday’s 68-56 win over Bucknell as a three-point favorite. Rotnei Clarke made his Big Dance debut and scored a team-high 16 points. Andrew Smith added 14 points and 16 rebounds, while Roosevelt Jones finished with 14 points, five boards and four assists. The 124 combined points slipped ‘over’ the 122-point total. This was a gut-wrenching setback for ‘under’ supporters that only went ‘over’ because the Bison began the foul-fest with about two minutes remaining.

Marquette rallied from a nine-point deficit with about six minutes remaining and won a 59-58 decision over Davidson thanks to Vander Blue’s driving layup with 1.0 seconds left. The Golden Eagles were down four and hit a trey to slice the deficit to one with around seven ticks left. But after a forced turnover and a convenient replay review (to check the clock when Marquette had zero timeouts left), Blue’s heroics capped an amazing comeback.

Buzz Williams’s squad owns a 6-8 spread record in 14 games as a single-digit favorite.

Butler has compiled an 8-4 spread record in 12 games as an underdog.

The ‘over’ is 16-13 overall for Butler. Meanwhile, Marquette has watched the ‘over’ go 15-12 overall.

This is a rematch of a nail-biter at the Maui Classic in Hawaii on Nov. 19. Butler won by a 72-71 count as a four-point underdog on Clarke’s buzzer-beating triple. The Arkansas transfer finished with 20 points and six rebounds. Khyle Marshall had 24 points and nine boards as he made 11-of-15 attempts from the field. Jones and Smith chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. In the losing effort, Blue scored a team-high 21 points.

CBS will have the telecast 30 minutes after the conclusion of Louisville-CSU.

B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets

The ‘under’ finished the year 22-5 in Cincinnati games after the 130 combined points slithered ‘over’ the 128-point total in the Bearcats’ 67-63 loss to Creighton.

Most books opened Duke as a 4.5-point favorite vs. the Bluejays in Sunday’s round-of-32 matchup in Philadelphia.

Most books opened Ole Miss as a three-point favorite for Sunday’s game against LaSalle in Kansas City. Behind the bruising play of Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner in the lane, the Rebels took out Wisconsin 57-46 as six-point underdogs. Andy Kennedy’s squad hasn’t tasted defeat since that improbable loss at The Hump against arch-rival Mississippi St.

LaSalle jumped out to an enormous lead over Kansas St. in Kansas City, leading by double digits nearly the entire first half. The Explorers withstood a furious rally by the Wildcats, who went in front late in the second half. However, LaSalle was able to capture a 63-61 win as a six-point underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a +220 payout.

In an NIT game on ESPN at noon Eastern, Alabama is favored by four against Stanford with a total of 129 ½. The ‘under’ is 21-7 overall for the Crimson Tide.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

East Regional: Day 3 NCAAB Betting Preview
By Covers.com

(12) California Golden Bears vs. (4) Syracuse Orange (-7.5, 124.5)

Twelfth-seeded California scored an upset over Nevada-Las Vegas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. The Golden Bears’ reward for that is a date Saturday in San Jose, Calif., with No. 4 seed Syracuse, which put on one of the most impressive displays of the entire second round in a demolition of Montana. The Orange nearly set a school record with their 81-34 victory and will be looking to book a trip to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in five years.

California has the benefit of being within 50 miles of its campus, and a strong support from the crowd was evident in the 64-61 victory over the Rebels. Syracuse had little trouble with the environment against the Grizzlies, but will have to contend with a more partisan crowd when it faces the Golden Bears. The Orange are on a roll after reaching the finals of the Big East tournament and leaned on senior guard Brandon Triche for 20 points Thursday.

ABOUT CALIFORNIA (21-11): The Golden Bears benefited from something that Syracuse has employed for years in the win over UNLV - a zone defense. California’s zone led to an 11:23 stretch in which the Rebels failed to score and the Golden Bears surged out to a nine-point lead before holding on in the final minutes. California was one of the last at-large teams to make it into the NCAA Tournament and has not advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since 1997. Coach Mike Montgomery’s team has a pair of guards in Justin Cobb and Allen Crabbe that average a combined 34.1 points and will try to push the tempo. Crabbe, who was voted Pac-12 Player of the Year, led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds on Thursday.

ABOUT SYRACUSE (27-9): The Orange’s zone confounded Montana into 20.4 percent shooting in a performance that nearly set Syracuse school records for dominance. The 47-point margin of victory was two off the team’s NCAA Tournament record of 49 in a first round victory over Brown in 1986, and it set an NCAA Tournament record for the biggest win by a team seeded third or lower. Triche and Michael Carter-Williams form a backcourt strong enough to challenge Cobb and Crabbe, and the Orange have plenty of size on the interior as well. Syracuse seems to be recovered from a rough stretch at the end of the regular season that saw it drop four of five - all to ranked teams.

TRENDS:

* Golden Bears are 5-0 ATS in their last five games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Under is 5-0 in Golden Bears’ last five Saturday games.
* Under is 4-0 in Orange’s last four games following a win of more than 20 points.

TIP-INS

1. The Golden Bears have held five of their last seven opponents to less than 40 percent from the field.

2. Syracuse has never faced California in the NCAA Tournament and has not faced a Pac-12 team since beating Arizona State in the second round in 2009.

3. Orange F C.J. Fair is 9-of-12 from 3-point range in his last five games.


(6) Butler Bulldogs vs. (3) Marquette Golden Eagles (-2, 126)

After narrowly avoiding a second-round upset bid from Davidson, No. 3 Marquette plays No. 6 Butler on Saturday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Ky. Vander Blue scored seven points in the final 1:33 - including the game-winning layup with one second left - as the Golden Eagles came back from a six-point deficit with 1:10 left to beat the Wildcats 59-58. Blue also hit a game-winning shot in Marquette’s regular-season finale against St. John’s to clinch a share of the Big East regular-season title. The Golden Eagles have won five of their last six games, but will have their hands full facing a Bulldogs team loaded with postseason experience.

Butler staved off 11th-seeded Bucknell 68-56, regularly double-teaming Bison star center Mike Muscala. Andrew Smith helped hold Muscala to nine points on 4-of-17 shooting and controlled the paint with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. After one year away from the Big Dance, Butler is attempting to make its third Sweet 16 in four seasons - losing in back-to-back national championship games in 2010 and 2011. The Bulldogs beat Marquette 72-71 on Rotnei Clarke's 3-pointer at the buzzer on Nov. 19 at the Maui Invitational earlier this season.

ABOUT MARQUETTE (24-8): Blue (14.4 points) has registered 16-plus points in three of his last four games, stepping up as the Golden Eagles’ go-to scoring option late in the fourth quarter. He and Jamil Wilson (9.6 points) combined for three 3-pointers in the final minute against Davidson, with Wilson’s second trey in the span pulling Marquette within one point with 10 seconds left. Davante Gardner adds 11.4 points on 58.4 percent shooting for the Golden Eagles, who are playing in their seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament and are looking for their third straight Sweet 16 appearance.

ABOUT BUTLER (27-8): The sharpshooter Clarke (16.7 points) scored 11 of his 17 points against Bucknell in the final 8:44, helping the Bulldogs recover from a six-point, second-half deficit. Clarke shoots 40.7 percent from deep and 88.2 percent from the foul line, scoring 20 points on Marquette earlier this season. Smith (11.1 points, 6.0 rebounds) could cause Marquette problems in the frontcourt, stretching Gardner with his speed and aggression on the boards. Roosevelt Jones (10.2 points) put up 14 points, five rebounds and four assists against Bucknell.

TRENDS:

* Bulldogs are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six Saturday games.
* Golden Eagles are 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall.
* Under is 4-1 in Bulldogs’ last five Saturday games.

TIP-INS

1. Butler has won 11 of its last 13 NCAA Tournament games - the two losses coming in the 2010 and 2011 title games.

2. The Bulldogs sealed Thursday's victory by shooting 25-for-28 from the foul line, including 18-for-20 in the last 4:43.

3. Blue scored 21 points and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc in Marquette’s loss to Butler earlier this season.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

Midwest Regional: Day 3 NCAAB Betting Preview
By Covers.com

(8) Colorado State Rams vs. (1) Louisville Cardinals (-10.5, 134.5)

Top-seeded Louisville backed up its claim as the hottest team in the NCAA Tournament with a dominant showing in its opening game, but No. 8 seed Colorado State also is coming off an overpowering performance as the teams get set to clash in the Midwest Regional quarterfinals Saturday in Lexington, Ky. The Cardinals rolled past North Carolina A&T 79-48 on Thursday for their 11th consecutive win, notching their 30th victory in the process, and had the luxury of resting their starters for much of the second half. The Rams had to exert a bit more effort to hold off Missouri 84-72, the program's first victory in the NCAA Tournament since 1989.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Colorado State's opening performance is the fact it came with leading scorer Colton Iverson in foul trouble. The Minnesota transfer grabbed 13 rebounds, but was limited to four points. He will need to be more of a factor at the offensive end against the Cardinals. Louisville has been outstanding since a three-game losing streak in January, winning 14 of its last 15 with the setback a five-overtime loss at Notre Dame on Feb. 9. The winner will face No. 4 seed Saint Louis or No. 12 Oregon on Friday in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis.

ABOUT COLORADO STATE (26-8): The Rams probably shouldn't expect things to go as smoothly at the offensive end as they did against Missouri - Colorado State shot 49 percent while rolling up the program's highest scoring total in an NCAA Tournament game, but said they are well-equipped to handle Louisville's pressing defense. "We're going to prepare for that," guard Jon Octeus said. "We've done a good job of pressuring each other. I think we'll be able to handle all the pressure they bring." The biggest advantage the Rams have against the Cardinals is their prowess on the boards. Colorado State ranks fourth in the nation in rebounding (40.5) and leads the nation in opponents' rebounds (28.1), creating the No. 1 rebounding margin in the country.

ABOUT LOUISVILLE (30-5): The Cardinals have turned up the defensive intensity during their winning streak, and coach Rick Pitino has harped on the number of deflections his team has produced. Pitino said the 58 deflections against Villanova in the Big East tournament marked a record for one of his teams, but the Cardinals shattered that with 67 on Thursday. "We all know what defense can do," guard Russ Smith said. "It got us to the Final Four last year. So we just stay solid and just keep playing our defense." Smith also led an impressive offensive performance against the Aggies, scoring 23 points as the Cardinals shot a season-best 57.4 percent.

TRENDS:

* Rams are 0-4 ATS in their last four Saturday games.
* Cardinals are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games overall.
* Over is 7-0-1 in Rams’ last eight overall.
* Over is 5-0 in Cardinals’ last five overall.

TIP-INS

1. Louisville is 42-8 all-time as the higher seed in NCAA Tournament games, but 5-11 as a No. 1 seed.

2. Colorado State is 20-2 when scoring 70 or more points and has the same record when leading at halftime.

3. The Cardinals are 26-0 this season when leading at halftime.


(12) Oregon Ducks vs. (4) Saint Louis Billikens (-3.5, 123.5)

Saint Louis will try to extend its best season in school history when the fourth-seeded Billikens play No. 12-seed Oregon in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in San Jose, Calif. Saint Louis won a program-record 28th game Thursday, smothering New Mexico State 64-44. Many felt the Ducks were under-seeded after they won the Pac-12 tournament title, and they went out and proved it with a 68-55 second-round victory over Oklahoma State.

Saint Louis junior forward Dwayne Evans scored 24 points in the opener, the most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history. He leads the Billikens in scoring overall (14), surpassing his average in each of the last nine games. The Ducks feature a mix of talented freshmen, led by starting guards Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis, and hungry seniors. Arsalan Kazemi, who grabbed 17 rebounds against Oklahoma State, leads the senior group and figures to be a tough matchup for the Billikens, who are 251st in the nation in rebounding.

ABOUT OREGON (27-8): The Ducks went 5-4 while Artis was sidelined with a foot injury during Pac-12 play. While that was a big loss for Oregon and likely cost the Ducks a regular-season conference title, it also gave junior point guard Johnathan Loyd a chance to shine. He initially struggled in the starting role, including three games in which he failed to make a field goal or register a point, but has become more comfortable of late, even with Artis back in the starting lineup. He scored a season-high 19 points in the Pac-12 tournament final against UCLA and played more minutes (25) against Oklahoma State than Artis (17).

ABOUT SAINT LOUIS (28-6): The Billkens made a trip to the Northwest back in November and lost 66-61 to Washington, a team Oregon beat twice during conference play. Two days later, coach Rick Majerus, who had been on leave since the summer because of heart problems, died. Saint Louis went on to win its next nine games and followed that with an 11-game winning streak. The Billikens knocked off a previously ranked Butler team three times this season and also swept both games against another ranked Atlantic-10 foe, Virginia Commonwealth. Saint Louis has been getting it done with defense - it is 15th in the nation in opponent scoring (57.7).

TRENDS:

* Billikens are 7-0 ATS in their last seven Saturday games.
* Under is 5-0 in Billikens’ last five overall.
* Over is 5-0 in Ducks’ last five Saturday games.
* Billikens are 4-0 ATS in their last four NCAA tourney games.

TIP-INS

1. The Pac-12 and Atlantic-10 conferences combined to go 7-0 in Thursday’s second round.

2. Oregon senior E.J. Singler on Thursday became the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,517 points), passing Aaron Brooks (1,511).

3. The 27 wins by the Ducks is third-most in program history.


(6) Memphis Tigers vs. (3) Michigan State Spartans (-5.5, 130.5)

No. 3 seed Michigan State looked dominant in an easy win over Valparaiso in its NCAA Tournament opener on Thursday. Things will get a little tougher on Saturday, when the Spartans take on No. 6 seed Memphis at Auburn Hills, Mich. The Tigers edged Saint Mary’s in their opener and will be able to match Michigan State athletically. Memphis has won seven straight games and showed on Thursday it can win at a slower pace.

The Tigers like to get out in the open floor and run up the score, but a 54-52 win over Saint Mary’s required more patience from the likes of point guard Joe Jackson and swingman Adonis Thomas. Michigan State has the type of Big Ten pedigree that can force teams to play at its pace and the NCAA Tournament pedigree with coach Tom Izzo that will always make it a contender. The Spartans have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in four of the previous five seasons.

ABOUT MEMPHIS (31-4): Tigers coach Josh Pastner picked up his first NCAA Tournament win at the school on Thursday and will be looking  for its first win of the season over a ranked opponent on Saturday. Memphis fell at home to top-seeded Louisville on Dec. 15 in its only other chance. The Tigers also lost to their only Big Ten challenger - 84-75 to Minnesota in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November. But Memphis built up plenty of confidence by ripping through Conference USA and had gone over 80 points in four straight games before slowing things down against the Gaels. Jackson led the way with 14 points on Thursday and does the bulk of the ball handling for a team that ranked fourth in the country in assists.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (26-8): The Spartans blasted Valparaiso on Thursday, with only a 10-0 burst in the final two minutes pulling the Crusaders within the 65-54 final margin. Michigan State has more size on the interior than the Tigers and showed that off against Valparaiso with 23 points and 15 rebounds from senior forward Derrick Nix. “It’s my last go-around,“ Nix told reporters, “and I’m not ready to be done yet.” Adreian Payne, Nix and Branden Dawson along the front helped the Spartans control the glass on Thursday and open things up for freshman Gary Harris and junior leader Keith Appling on the outside. The Spartans do not have any players left over from the 2008 squad, which fell in the Sweet Sixteen to Memphis in the only other NCAA Tournament meeting between the schools.

TRENDS:

* Tigers are 7-0 ATS in their last seven Saturday games.
* Spartans are 0-4 ATS in their last four vs. Conference USA.
* Under is 6-1 in Spartans’ last seven overall.

TIP-INS

1. Izzo is 38-14 in the NCAA Tournament.

2. Memphis senior swingman D.J. Stephens blocked eight shots on Thursday and has swatted away 19 in the last three games.

3. Michigan State outrebounded Valparaiso 49-23 on Thursday and is 23-7 when controlling the glass.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

South Regional: Day 3 NCAAB Betting Preview
By Covers.com

(5) VCU Rams vs. (4) Michigan Wolverines (-3.5, 142.5)

Fourth-seeded Michigan meets No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday in an NCAA Tournament third-round game at Auburn Hills, Mich., that features two up-tempo, guard-oriented teams. The Wolverines contained Nate Wolters and South Dakota State in their second-round matchup 71-56. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points apiece for Michigan, which shot 51 percent and 9-for-20 from downtown. Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke managed a season-low six points on 2-of-12 shooting, but will have a chance to redeem himself if the Wolverines can outwork the Rams' “havoc” defense.

VCU rattled Akron in its second-round matchup, forcing 21 turnovers and holding the Zips to 34.9 percent shooting and 1-of-13 from long range en route to an 88-42 rout. Coach Shaka Smart’s pressure defense places them first in the nation in turnover margin at plus-8.2. The Rams, who became the first No. 11 seed in tournament history to reach the Final Four two years ago, are also 11th in the nation in scoring at 78 points.

ABOUT MICHIGAN (27-7): Burke leads the Wolverines in scoring (18.8) and assists (6.7). He and Hardaway (14.8 points) help Michigan match up well with VCU. That strong guard play - the duo averages only four turnovers combined - matches up well against the Rams’ pressure. Also in the Wolverines’ favor is the location of the game, a little more than 50 miles from campus. The Wolverines, who were 17-1 at home this season, haven’t made the Sweet 16 since 1994.

ABOUT VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH (27-8): Treveon Graham leads four Rams players who average double figures with 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds. Juvonte Reddic (14.6) poured in 21 points against Akron while Troy Daniels (12.4) led VCU with 23 points on 6-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc. Rob Brandenberg scores 10.5 points for the Rams, who also lead the nation in steals at 11.8. The Rams have forced 21.7 turnovers in victories this season, but only 14 in losses.

TRENDS:

* Rams are 12-1 ATS in their last 13 NCAA Tournament games.
* Wolverines are 1-7 ATS in their last eight Saturday games.
* Under is 5-1 in Rams’ last six neutral site games.

TIP-INS:

1. Auburn Hills is the closest to campus Michigan has ever played in the NCAA Tournament.

2. Before the last game, Burke had scored in double figures in every game this year and at least 18 in each of his previous 10. He also said his back is a "little sore" after taking a tumble on the floor during Thursday's win. Burke said it will not keep him out of the lineup Saturday.

3. After reaching the Final Four in 2011, VCU knocked off No. 5 Wichita State 62-59 as a No. 12 seed last year before pushing No. 4 Indiana in a 63-61 loss.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

West Regional: Day 3 NCAAB Betting Preview
By Covers.com

(9) Wichita State Shockers vs. (1) Gonzaga Bulldogs (-6.5, 129)

A shaky first outing was survived and top-seeded Gonzaga hopes to give a much stronger performance against ninth-seeded Wichita State with an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 berth on the line Saturday in Salt Lake City. The top-ranked Bulldogs were given quite a scare by 16th-seeded Southern and didn’t secure the 64-58 victory until the final half-minute. The Shockers had a much easier time by routing Pittsburgh 73-55. Wichita State lacks star power, but is strong defensively.

The Zags put on brave faces after Thursday’s victory despite being one of the few No. 1 seeds severely challenged by a 16 seed. “Any win in the tournament is a good win,” junior forward Kelly Olynyk said after the team’s 15th consecutive victory. “So we have to kind of take that into consideration and then moving forward, we’ve got some stuff we can work on.” The Shockers aren’t intimidated by Gonzaga and are planning for a fierce battle. “Playing angry, toughness, going out and give it your all,” senior guard Malcolm Armstead said. “Not leaving anything on the floor. You’ve got to leave it all on the floor at the end of the day.”

ABOUT GONZAGA (32-2): Olynyk started slow against Southern before cranking it up and scoring 17 of his 21 points in the second half. The West Coast Conference Player of the Year took a more aggressive approach over the final 20 minutes and it paid off. “In the second half, I really just had to focus on finishing plays,” said Olynyk, who also grabbed 10 rebounds for his fifth career double-double. Bulldogs coach Mark Few said there was extra emphasis placed on working the ball into Olynyk. Sophomore guard Kevin Pangos also played well and made four 3-pointers en route to 16 points.

ABOUT WICHITA STATE (27-8): Armstead had 22 points and junior forward Cleanthony Early added 21 against Pittsburgh, but a player who had only six points also was one of the heroes. Sophomore guard Tekele Cotton pestered Panthers’ leading scorer Tray Woodall to two points on 1-of-12 shooting and recorded a career-best five steals. “Malcolm called him a free safety - I think he’s more of a strong safety,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. “I think he’s going to come up and help in run support. He’s a tremendous athlete.” Senior forward Carl Hall (12.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) will be a key player against a Gonzaga squad with a strong frontcourt. Hall has posted five consecutive double-digit outings and has 43 blocks, second on Wichita State behind senior center Ehimen Orukpe’s 54.

TRENDS:

* Under is 4-0 in Bulldogs’ last four neutral site games.
* Over is 4-1 in Shockers’ last five overall.
* Bulldogs are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games following an ATS loss.

TIP-INS

1. Wichita State is 1-6 when playing the nation’s top-ranked team.

2. The Shockers are aiming to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006.

3. The Bulldogs made eight 3-pointers against Southern and are 12-0 when making eight or more in a game this season.


(14) Harvard Crimson vs. (6) Arizona Wildcats (-10, 132.5)

Harvard will try to become the third No. 14 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 when it plays sixth-seeded Arizona on Saturday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. Chattanooga in 1997 was the last No. 14 seed to win its first two games. The Crimson have a shot if they play like they did in their tournament opener, shooting 52.4 percent in the 68-62 victory against third-seeded New Mexico. The Wildcats looked strong as well, shooting 56.9 percent in an 81-64 victory against Belmont.

Arizona should be able to take advantage of its interior height against Harvard. New Mexico 7-foot sophomore center Alex Kirk put up 22 points and 12 rebounds against the undersized front line for the Crimson. Arizona has its own 7-footer in the middle, freshman Kaleb Tarczewski, with freshmen forwards Grant Jerrett (6-10) and Brandon Ashley (6-8) coming off the bench. Kenyatta Smith, the 6-8 sophomore center for Harvard, needs to avoid the foul trouble that kept him on the bench for long stretches against New Mexico.

ABOUT ARIZONA (26-7): Mark Lyons had his best game in six weeks in the tournament opener, scoring a team-high 23 points. The senior transfer from Xavier has been playing out of position at point guard the entire season, but appears to be more comfortable with the ball-handling responsibilities. He hasn’t turned the ball over more than twice in the last three games, something he struggled with at times this season. His defense will be just as important against the Crimson, who are sixth in the nation in 3-point shooting (40.3 percent).

ABOUT HARVARD (20-9): Arizona and Harvard haven’t played since 1977 but that doesn’t mean some players haven’t crossed paths. Arizona has six players with Southern California ties and Harvard has two; Smith and Wesley Saunders, the team’s leading scorer (16.5). Saunders, a 6-5 sophomore guard, has reached double figures in scoring in every game this season, including a team-high 18 points in the second-round upset against New Mexico. Another player that can’t be left alone is shooting guard Laurent Rivard, who’s shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range. 

TRENDS:

* Crimson are 5-0 ATS in their last five games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Wildcats are 4-0 ATS in their last four NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 22-4 in Wildcats’ last 26 Saturday games.

TIP-INS

1. Arizona senior F Solomon Hill is eight points from moving into 20th in career scoring at the school and three rebounds from moving into 10th. Six former Wildcats rank in the top 20 in career scoring and top 10 in rebounding.

2. Of the 210 shots Rivard has taken this season, 193 have come from 3-point range.

3. Arizona is 26-5 all-time against teams seeded 10th through 16th in the NCAA Tournament.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

Saturday Cliff Notes
By Dave Essler

Butler-Marquette: Let's look at the perception of these teams first. Butler played tough when they needed to, and IMO that was far more of a "Brad Stevens" thing than a talent discrepancy with Bucknell. This Bison actually came from WAY down to take a six point lead in the second half, and against a team like Marquette, Butler will simply not get away with that. Marquette is lucky to have advanced, BUT, they advanced, and almost every team, even the eventual national champion, has a game they "coulda/shoulda" lost. So, perhaps it's Marquette that's a bit under valued here. Davidson's style was truly one we knew would give them trouble. Butler seemingly plays right into what Marquette will want to do. However, the Bulldogs do have a significant size advantage that may negate some of Marquette's rebounding. Note I said "may", because I do worry that if Smith gets in foul trouble that Butler may be screwed, and with the Golden Eagles pounding it inside all night, that would be a concern backing Butler.

Colorado State-Louisville: It's always tough to fade Louisville, who have won about eight or ten straight in convincing fashion. However, see paragraph one where I say that every team has at least one game they could lose but don't, and CSU does have the ingredients to stay within this number. People may look at CSU and think "well, they beat a sloppy Tiger team", which is true, but they MORE than beat them, they dismantled them. Louisville is certainly going to want to bang inside, and that does indeed play right into CSU's strength, and it's real difficult for me to NOT take a team that scores as many points from the line than the Rams do. Over the course of 40 minutes, those add up. I would worry that CSU doesn't turn teams over that much, and obviously Louisville does. But, I looked at what CSU was able to do to Wyoming (twice) this season, and think that perhaps there is a chance. I do know that Wyoming had their share of issues, but they do play a similarly tough defense, as does Fresno who CSU had zero issues with at Fresno. Bottom line here is that Louisville would have no problem slowing down a team like Missouri or another fast paced, athletic team, but that's not CSU, who has the roster to play most any style.

Memphis-Michigan State: We'd (or I would) obviously try to make a case for Memphis and taking points, or at least that would certainly be my inclination. But, I do come back to them playing in the C-USA, which is an issue for me, and I do go back to the fact that they simply didn't beat a good team out or really in conference play this season. But, winning and covering are two different things. I suspect that were it not "Memphis" that this line would be several points higher, so the value may well lie with the Spartans, especially since they're basically playing a home game. My concern with backing the Spartans is that they can be prone to turning it over, and obviously the Tigers D can create them. On the flip side, it may be tough to back the team that really seems to struggle at the line at times and/or not get there enough, and that would be Memphis. State can also be prone to blocked shots, and that's a strength of Memphis' defense. Since we know that the Spartans are far more capable of slowing the game down than Memphis is of speeding it up, I'd have to think the under is the best play in this one, or at least the safest.

Michigan-VCU: Obviously another home game for Michigan, so that's a point or two or three that would be in their favor built into this line. Teams that HAVE beat Michigan have had upper echelon defenses, such as Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Indiana. Michigan fares better against the athletic teams that want to get up and down the floor, such as Iowa, Arkansas, and NC State, and that's exactly what VCU wants to do. My instinct is that because VCU simply doesn't have the elite defense that most of the team the Wolverines have faced, is that in the end Michigan wins this game. Since neither team was really tested much, it's tough to get a read on how they'll handle a pressure situation yet. It's always tough for me to back a team like VCU who rely so heavily on the three point shot, especially away from home and against a team who's strength on defense may well be on the perimeter (Michigan). But, we've got the team that forces the most turnovers (VCU) against the team (Michigan) that forces the most. Is this where the youth and inexperience shows up, or is this really still a home game. Hard to fade Shaka Smart when it comes to quick-turn around preparation, and although VCU's defense doesn't have the stats that the Wolverines do, I might contend that they played more offensive minded teams in the A-10, and may be hard pressed not to take the points in what may well be a last possession game.

Witchita State-Gonzaga: Even with the Shockers blowout of Pittsburgh, they're still being disrespected here in light of how Gonzaga had to struggle with a #16 seed. Especially given that their relative strength of schedules are nearly identical, and the Shockers have more experience and less expectations, at least in the betting public's mind. My instinct says that if you want to give me a team that can beat everyone but Creighton and +6.5 points, we should take it. If we make that bet, one thing I do like about Witchita is that they're a bit more versatile on offense, whereas Gonzaga is for more of an interior team. Normally, I'd like that, but in this game Orukpe to take up some space and some fouls against the two bigs for the Zags. In the Zags last game they let Southern shoot 10-23 from behind the arc, but what would really concern me more is that Southern had eight blocked shots to NONE for Gonzaga. And Gonzaga shot 40% from behind the arc, which I just don't see Witchita allowing to happen. They may even concede the inside as long as they can keep the three's in check. Either way, I can't lay those points to a good team like the Shockers. If Gonzaga wakes up and plays to their potential, so be it, but until they do I am not betting on it. Too much of a price to pay for me.

Havard-Arizona: Well, the trendy Belmont pick went down in flames, which for now is fine because we weren't on Belmont and we do have a future on Arizona to win the whole thing. What is very interesting here is that Harvard shoots over 40% from deep, AND they score almost 25% of their points from the line, meaning that Arizona's size may make little or no difference, at least defensively. I would say that's especially true because the one Achilles Heel of the Wildcats defense is defending the perimeter. With that in mind and knowing that they'll run if given the chance, I'd lean over in this one because they are a great defensive rebounding team, and with Harvard missed deep shots there may well be plenty of opportunities for fast break points. Yes, Harvard played and Ivy League schedule (duh), but they played the 26th best non-conference schedule, beating Cal in Cal and losing to St. Marys on the road by one. So, Harvard hanging around here would not be a massive surprise. Certainly the fact that as of this writing the number opened at -10 and is still sitting there says nobody's jumping on the Wildcats early. I don't expect this line to go too much higher, and the initial move on the total was down. IMO that could be a setup for later.

Oregon-St. Louis: Something's got to give here because we've got two of the most favorite public teams to bet on, and IMO putting that line out at -3.5 is just saying exactly that. Obviously the Billikens would be favored, but not by TOO much over a team the public is in love with. Here's what concerns me about taking St. Louis. Yes, they breezed through the A-10, but early in the season two teams they lost to were Santa Clara and Kansas (badly) and what they have in common with the Ducks is they play quick. St. Louis wasn't tested at all against New Mexico State (shit) while Oregon is in full Tournament mode after beating an excellent Oklahoma State team with perhaps one of the best PG's in the nation in Marcus Smart. Oregon has the size to compete with St. Louis, and really the only concern I would have is whether they Ducks and their Freshman PG can keep from turning the ball over, which had been a problem earlier in the season. On the other hand, perhaps that time off Artis had can be beneficial at this point. St. Louis is not a great offensive rebounding team, which would help them control the pace, so we actually lean Ducks here.

Cal-Syracuse: Two of my least favorite teams to bet on, especially Syracuse after that Louisville debacle. I've been big on fading these Big East teams that pack it in against teams that can simply shoot over them, and perhaps that's the way we'll go here. But, my problem with Cal all season had been that they were soft (physically) at times, and obviously against a Big East team (even a soft one like Syracuse) that COULD be a problem. Dan Bebe's Bears beat a very undisciplined team in UNLV, although they let the Rebels make it a much closer game than it needed to be, while the Orange just did everything right (or Montana did everything wrong). Clearly that would make Syracuse the early betting favorite (publicly) and it opened at -8 and quickly went to -7.5, and today has been going back and forth, so clearly some disagreement there. The one thing Cal does have to compete is the size, but what I really don't like at all is they score the overwhelming majority of their points inside and obviously against that Syracuse zone that's just not going to be an easy thing to do. They've got a thin bench, whereas Syracuse does not. Cal's interior defense is very good, so if Triche and/or Sutherland can shoot over them, this does have the potential to be a blowout. If the game were on the East Coast this is one time I might lay the points. SLIGHT lean to the over only because I can see Cal firing three's late to catch up. Problem is that Crabbe is about the only threat they have, and with the minutes he plays he'll be one tired Bear by the time this game is over.

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Re: College Basketball Betting News and Notes Saturday, March 23

Saturday's Late Action
By Kevin Rogers
VegasInsider.com

Saturday's third round action concludes with two intriguing matchups in Salt Lake City and San Jose. Syracuse and California close the night in the Bay Area, while Gonzaga tries to put Thursday's close shave against Southern behind them.

West Regional

(1) Gonzaga vs. (9) Wichita State


There were plenty of questions regarding the Zags and whether or not their schedule warranted them a top-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga was three minutes away from making the wrong kind of history on Thursday as the first top-seed to get bounced by a 16-seed in the opening round. However, Mark Few's club held off a feisty Southern squad from the SWAC in a 64-58 victory, but failed to cash as 22-point favorites.

Wichita State went wire-to-wire in a dominating defensive effort over Pittsburgh, 73-55 to easily cover as four-point underdogs. The Shockers found a way to advance in spite of 39% shooting from the floor and knocking down just 2-of-20 shots from downtown. Gregg Marshall's team took advantage of Pitt's physical play by hitting 33-of-41 free throws, while limiting the Panthers to 35% shooting.

The Shockers have won eight of their last 11 games, as WSU has drilled the 'over' in four of the past five contests. Past the victory over Pitt, the Shockers lost twice to Creighton, but beat VCU back in early November, the only games against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. The underdog role is a rare one for Wichita State, who went 3-2 ATS when receiving points.

Gonzaga is in the midst of a frantic 'under' run by hitting the 'under' in 15 of the last 17 contests. The Bulldogs posted a 5-3-1 ATS record as a single-digit favorite this season, as the Zags are listed as 6 ½-point favorites with a total of 128 ½.

East Regional

(4) Syracuse vs. (12) California


There were some doubts about the Orange heading into Thursday's matchup against Big Sky champion Montana, as the Grizzlies were a prime candidate to pull off a second round upset. However, Syracuse came out smoking as the Orange routed Montana, 81-34 as 13-point favorites, while the Grizzlies failed to have one player score in double-figures.

Cal held off UNLV to avenge an earlier loss to the Rebels, 64-61 to cash outright as 3½-point underdogs. The Golden Bears were led by Allen Crabbe's 19 points, as UNLV shot just 32% from the field. Mike Montgomery's club improved to 4-6 ATS in the 'dog role, which they will be in tonight against Syracuse.

The Golden Bears are coming through in the 'under' department, cashing in five of the last seven games. In this stretch, Cal has allowed 61 points or less five times, including giving up 46 points in a two-point triumph at Oregon last month. The Bears are playing in the third round for just the second time since 2008, as Cal fell to Duke in 2010 as 6 ½-point 'dogs, 68-53.

Syracuse owns a 6-9 ATS record the last 15 games in the favorite role, but three of those defeats came when laying double-digits. The Orange has picked up consecutive covers just three times since mid-January, as Jim Boeheim's team is listed as seven-point favorites with the total set at 127.

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