Sweet 16 Betting News and Notes

Sweet 16 Betting News and Notes

Sweet Sixteen Preview
By Teddy Covers
Sportsmemo.com

The first weekend of the Madness is in the history books and only 16 teams remain standing in the NCAA Tournament.   The two best conferences in the regular season – the Big Ten and the Big East – proved to be the two best conferences in the Big Dance, sending seven teams to the Sweet Sixteen.  The ACC and the PAC-12 were the only two other conferences to send multiple teams onto the second weekend of the Big Dance. 

This week, I’ll be taking a look at the sixteen remaining teams in the field; assessing their chances for tournament success as the field gets reduced to the Final Four this coming weekend.  Teams are listed in rotation order.

Syracuse is drawing comparisons to the UConn team that won it all two years ago.  The Orange, like the Huskies, slumped down the stretch of the regular season.  Like the Huskies, they came on strong in the Big East tournament, rebuilding their confidence in the process.  Also like UConn, Syracuse has all kinds of NBA ready talent. Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland and Brandon Triche are all expected to be drafted this spring.  Don’t sell the Orange short just because their regular season record wasn’t noteworthy!

Indiana had more turnovers than assists against Temple last weekend, and were outrebounded by the Owls; failing to sniff a pointspread cover despite a significant edge at the free throw line.  This is nothing unusual for Tom Crean’s squad – they’ve notched only two pointspread covers in their last eight games; unable to win by the margins the betting markets are asking for.

Marquette squeaked out a pair of nail-biters over the first weekend of NCAA tourney action, winning their two games by a combined total of three points.  This Buzz Williams’ quote speaks volumes about their attitude heading into the Sweet 16: “Our character, toughness and the resiliency of our guys is maybe unlike any team I've ever been around. I stand at attention and respect for how those kids are...We're not good enough to blow anybody out…If we can turn it into a fight and make it ugly, then it probably trends toward it helps us the most.''

Miami is the best ATS team remaining in the field; still cashing at a 68% clip for the full season even after their non-covering win against Illinois in the Round of 32.  Jim Larranaga took George Mason to the Final Four, but shockingly, the ACC has only sent three teams to the Final Four in the last seven seasons.  Of course, two of those ACC schools (Duke in 2010 and North Carolina in 2009) went on to win the title.

Arizona and the rest of the PAC-12 were dramatically undervalued coming into the Big Dance, resulting in a 6-2 ATS mark for the conference as a whole over the opening weekend.  And the Wildcats will get the rare benefit of being a lower seeded team in a crowd-friendly environment playing at the Staples Center in LA on Thursday.

Ohio State has proven it can win grind-it-out affairs in the Big Ten tourney and push-the-pace affairs here in the NCAA tourney.   With three Big Ten tourney titles in the last four years and three consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearances, Thad Matta is clearly a tournament coach worthy of respect!

La Salle was the only team to win three games on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, all three in upset fashion.  The Atlantic-10 conference opened the tournament on a 6-0 ATS run, but then proceeded to go 1-3 ATS in the Round of 32 before the Explorers’ come-from-behind win against Ole Miss. 

Wichita State also pulled off a pair of upsets over the first weekend of the tourney, and the Missouri Valley Conference went 3-0 ATS before Creighton’s loss to Duke on Sunday Night.  But the Shockers upset win over #1 seed Gonzaga was propelled by a barrage of second half three pointers; not normally an area of strength for a team that finished the regular season connecting on only 33% of their tries from beyond the arc.

It’s been a tale of three seasons for Oregon this year.  The Ducks were a major non-conference surprise and opened the season with an 18-2 SU record.  Then point guard Dominic Artis got hurt, and the Ducks struggled even when he returned to the lineup, a woeful 2-11-1 ATS over a 14 game span down the stretch of their PAC-12 campaign.  But Oregon has turned up the intensity here in the postseason with five straight impressive wins and four straight pointspread covers.

Louisville remains the team to beat, as far as I’m concerned – they’re the #1 overall seed for good reason; the best team in the country heading into March Madness.  And yet the betting markets really haven’t caught up with Rick Pitino’s squad – they’ve won and covered nine straight heading into the Sweet Sixteen, playing their best basketball of the year right now.

Michigan State took advantage of the very friendly crowds in suburban Detroit for their first two tourney victories, and their defense was positively stifling in wins over Valpo and Memphis.  The crowds in Indy next weekend won’t be quite as friendly, and the level of competition increases significantly.  Still, I don’t know of many bettors who have banked significant profits betting against Tom Izzo in March!

Duke suffered four of their five losses this year when ‘stretch the floor’ 6-11 forward Ryan Kelly was hurt; missing nearly two full months of ACC play.  But since scoring 36 against Miami in his return to the floor, Kelly has scored just 25 points in his last four games combined; and the Blue Devils are just 2-2 ATS in the process.

Michigan was as good as any team in the country for the first three months of the season, but they slumped down the stretch.  From the beginning of February through the end of regular season play, the Wolverines went 5-5 SU, 1-9 ATS, a dramatically overvalued commodity.  But the Wolverines sure looked like the team they were earlier in the season in the first two rounds of the tourney, blowing out VCU and South Dakota State.  Of course the friendly crowds at the Palace of Auburn Hills certainly helped!

Kansas was downright flat in their tourney opener against Western Kentucky, and looked even worse in their sluggish first half against North Carolina.  Of course, the second half against the Tar Heels was at the opposite end of the spectrum – complete domination on both ends of the floor, despite an 0-for-9 shooting performance from leading scorer Ben McLemore.  With four senior starters back from the team that reached the championship game last year, this #1 seed has the talent, resume and experience to make a return trip in 2013.

Florida Gulf Coast took my money on Sunday, just one game after pulling off the biggest shocker of the opening round of the tournament, knocking off #2 seed Georgetown.  History told us to be very wary of lesser tournament teams coming off a major upset – all three previous #15 seeds this century that pulled off an opening round upset were bounced out in the next round, suffering SU and ATS losses.  But not these Eagles; who were once again the better team on the floor in their win over San Diego State, shooting 56% from the floor with point guard Brett Comer dishing 14 assists with only three turnovers. 

Florida is 0-6 SU this year in games decided by six points or less, repeatedly unable to pull out tight wins.  But the Gators are so good, they don’t play in many tight games; 28-1 SU in games decided by more than six points!  This team has been to the Elite Eight in each of the last two years, blowing a second half lead and losing to Louisville by four last year following a three point OT loss to Butler the previous season.  Head coach Billy Donovan has two national championship rings already and as well as another trip to the title game in a losing effort against Mateen Cleaves’ Michigan State squad.  This year’s deep, veteran team has similar upside.

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Re: Sweet 16 Betting News and Notes

Sweet 16 Primer
By Brian Edwards
VegasInsider.com

With 52 schools eliminated, the 2013 NCAA Tournament is down to the Sweet 16. This year’s guests include former supermodel Amana Marcum, ‘Dunk City,’ the LaSalle Explorers, three schools from the Sunshine State and Wichita St. from out of the Missouri Valley Conference.

The cast of characters include Buzz Williams, the lovable Marquette head coach who plays a mean air guitar and has led his team to a pair of improbable comeback victories over Davidson and Butler.

You want Hall-of-Fame-bound coaches? We’ve got Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Mike Krzyzewski and Bill Self. If Ohio St. ends up cutting the nets down in Atlanta, then Thad Matta should’ve been included in the previous sentence.

Cinderella is still in this tournament, but she’s way hotter this time around. Andy Enfield has a trophy wife and bigger paychecks headed his way after leading Florida Gulf Coast to a pair of blowout wins over second-seeded Georgetown and seventh-seeded San Diego St. In doing so, the Eagles became the first No. 15 seed to advance to the region semifinals.
   
And there was nothing fluky about it. FGCU beat Miami earlier this season, prompting many pundits to point to that defeat as the reason why the Hurricanes shouldn’t be a No. 1 seed. Um, I think we can now call that a quality loss (by three) for UM.

FGCU used a 21-2 second-half surge to take a 52-33 lead over Georgetown with 12:28 remaining Friday night. The Hoyas would rally to make it respectable, but the Eagles won by a 78-68 count as 13-point underdogs at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Bernard Thompson was the catalyst with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Brett Comer finished with 12 points, 10 assists and six boards.

Enfield’s bunch took out the Aztecs 81-71 as a 7.5-point ‘dog. Thompson scored 23 points (again) and Comer posted another double-double with 10 points and 14 dimes. Sherwood Brown added 17 points and eight boards, including a ridiculous dunk off a no-look alley-oop dish from Comer.

FGCU will take its high-flying act to Cowboys Stadium to challenge third-seeded Florida on Friday night in Arlington. The Gators, who advanced with easy wins and covers over Northwestern St. and Minnesota, were favored by 13 against the Eagles as of Monday afternoon.

The total was 133.5. The Eagles are +700 on the money line (risk $100 to win $700).

Donovan has UF in the Sweet 16 for the third straight season. The Gators were led by Mike Rosario’s game-high 25 points in Sunday’s 78-64 win over Minnesota as eight-point ‘chalk. Rosario splashed the nets with six 3-pointers on nine attempts as Florida raced to a 48-27 lead at halftime.

Florida has had to go through Cinderella stories before in recent NCAA Tournaments with mixed results. In 2006, the Gators beat George Mason in the national semifinals before winning their first national title in school history.

UF has faced Butler in three different NCAA Tourneys since 1999 when it beat the Bulldogs on Mike Miller’s leaner at the buzzer in a first-round matchup. In the 2007 tournament, Florida had its toughest test on the way to repeating as national champs in a nail-biting win over Butler in the Sweet 16. Two years ago, Butler rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit to beat the Gators in overtime at the South Region finals in New Orleans.

Also in 1999, UF was eliminated in the West Region semifinals in Phoenix where Gonzaga advanced to the Elite Eight thanks to Casey Calvary’s tip-in winner in the final seconds.

Just last year, UF didn’t have to face Missouri in the second round because the second-seeded Tigers were stunned by No. 15 seed, Norfolk St.

The other game at Cowboys Stadium on Friday night will feature top-seeded Kansas up against Michigan, an undervalued No. 4 seed that looked like the best team in the field following easy wins and covers over South Dakota St. and VCU.

Most books are listing KU as a two-point favorite with a total of 136 ½.

The Jayhawks got all they wanted from Western Kentucky in Friday’s 64-57 win as 20.5-point favorites. The Hilltoppers led 31-30 at intermission and threatened to become the first No. 16 seed to advance. Then on Sunday, North Carolina raced out to a 12-2 advantage over KU and still led 31-20 at halftime, but Bill Self’s team used a 29-8 run to propel it to a 70-58 win as a 6.5-point favorite.

In the West Region semifinals on Thursday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, No. 2 Ohio St. will collide with sixth-seeded Arizona. Most spots have the Buckeyes favored by 3 ½ with a total of 133 ½. Gamblers can take the Wildcats to win outright for a +155 return (risk $100 to win $155).

Ohio St. survived a game effort from Iowa St. and won a 78-75 decision thanks to Aaron Craft’s 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining. The Buckeyes had posted an easy first-round win over Iona.

Arizona is 4-1 ATS in its last five games after thumping Belmont (81-64) and Harvard (74-61) to easily cover the number in both spots.

The other game in Tinseltown will pit LaSalle vs. Wichita St. Most spots have the Shockers as four-point favorites with the total in the 135-136 range. The Explorers are +160 on the money line.

LaSalle went into Kansas City and upset Kansas St. before winning a nail-biter over Ole Miss. Gregg Marshall’s team advanced by dominating Pittsburgh before knocking off top-seeded Gonzaga.

The East Region semifinals will take place at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., where Syracuse and Indiana will square off in a rematch of the 1987 national championship game won by IU on Keith Smart’s baseline jumper at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Most spots have Tom Crean’s squad installed as a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 136. The ‘Cuse is +210 on the money line.

In the late game following IU-Syracuse, Miami is a 5.5-point ‘chalk’ vs. Marquette with a total of 127. The Golden Eagles are +220 on the money line (risk $100 to win $220). The Hurricanes blasted Pacific by 29 points but failed to cover in Sunday’s 63-59 victory over Illinois as eight-point favorites.

If Marquette and Indiana meet in the Elite Eight, Tom Crean would have to face his former team that he took to the Final Four in 2003.

The Midwest Region will anoint its winner in Indianapolis. Louisville, which wasn’t challenged in blowout wins over North Carolinal A&T and Colorado St., will meet No. 12 seed Oregon. The Ducks advanced with victories over No. 5 and No. 4 seeds, Oklahoma St. and Saint Louis.

Most books have U of L favored by 10 with a total of 128. Dana Altman’s team can be had to win outright for a +450 payout.

The Oregon-Louisville winner will face the survivor of Duke and Michigan St. Most books have Duke as a two-point favorite with a total of 134.

Louisville remains the ‘chalk’ to win the national championship in two weeks. Sportsbook.ag has the Cardinals’ odds reduced to 3/1. Indiana and Florida have the next-shortest odds at +450 and +500, respectively.

Miami has 7/1 odds, followed by Ohio St. and Duke at 8/1 apiece, while Kansas, Michigan St., Syracuse and Michigan share 12/1 odds. At this point, I believe the Wolverines have the best value in the futures market.

Arizona has 25/1 odds, followed by Wichita St. (30/1), Marquette (40/1), Oregon (60/1), LaSalle (75/1) and Florida Gulf Coast (100/1).

B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets

Minnesota fired Tubby Smith on Monday afternoon. Candidates to replace Smith might include Butler’s Brad Stevens, VCU’s Shaka Smart, Florida Gulf Coast’s Andy Enfield, Marquette’s Buzz Williams, former UCLA and Pitt coach Ben Howland and/or Wichita St.’s Gregg Marshall.

Ben Howland is also out at UCLA. This search should be all about Butler’s Stevens or VCU’s Smart. However, Pitt’s Jamie Dixon might be the top choice even though he recently inked a 10-year extension with the Panthers. The Bruins will have plenty of quality options so they better get it right.

Following its win over Ole Miss, LaSalle decided to stay in Kansas City instead of flying back to Philadelphia before a Tuesday trip to Los Angeles. The Explorers will fly from KC to LA on Tuesday afternoon.

Sportsbook has Florida as the -150 favorite to win the South Region and move on to Atlanta. Kansas is at +225 while Michigan is +300. Florida Gulf Coast has 25/1 odds to win two more games.

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Re: Sweet 16 Betting News and Notes

Sweet 16 Returnees
By Marc Lawrence
VegasInsider.com

With the 2013 NCAA Tournament entering the SWEET 16 round, let's take a different perspective in analyzing the teams that have arrived. This one pertains specifically to teams that are returning to the SWEET 16 for the 2nd straight year.

Do these experienced teams perform with aplomb and panache, or do they bomb like Ted Kaczynski on a 2nd date? Let's take a peek.

ALL HANDS ON DECK

Taking a look at this year's list of returnees, we find half of last year's field returning. They include - Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Marquette, Michigan State, Ohio State and Syracuse.

According to our database, since 1992, teams making a right-back appearance in the SWEET 16 are 63-43 SU and 48-56-2 ATS in this round of the tourney.

The cut-line, however, is often times the pointspread.

That's confirmed by the fact that favorites of more than 6 points are 35-3 SU and 23-15 ATS in these games.

Priced at anything less (dog or favorite of 6 or fewer points), they dip drastically to 28-40 SU and 25-41-2 ATS in competitive contests.

This year's teams making the cut (favored by 6 or more points) are: Florida and Louisville.

NOT QUITE A '10'

Looking at it from a varied perspective, SWEET 16 returnees seem to struggle when arriving off a win of less than 10 points, going just 25-24 SU and 17-30-2 ATS.

This year that would include Marquette and Ohio State.

Note: Indiana and Syracuse face one another.

SEEDY DEVELOPMENT

As expected, the top two seeds fare the best in Sweet 16 games as returnees, going 48-15 SU combined. To the spread, however, they are lukewarm, at best, going 32-31 ATS.

No. 3 seeds have fared the worst, going 5-7 SU and 3-9 ATS as returnees in this round. Not good news for Marquette or Michigan State.

Ironically, the Eagles failed in this same role as small favorites, losing 68-58 as small favorite versus Florida.

SAYANORA

Worse, when SWEET 16 returnees arrive and are forced to take on top quality foe with a win percentage of .860 or greater they spring a major leak, going 6-16 SU and 7-14-1 ATS, including 0-4 SUATS for No. 6 or lower seeds.

The life rafts are ready and standing by for Oregon.

The bottom line is you can draw your own conclusions, if you like. But make no mistake, when it comes to handicapping teams in the SWEET 16, the winners will likely be the better-qualified teams that have 'been there-and-done that'. Or those who know how to keep a ship afloat, if you know what I mean.

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Re: Sweet 16 Betting News and Notes

Sweet 16 Preview: East Region
Atssportsline.com

Can the Sweet 16 match the excitement of the first three rounds? From a betting perspective, there were some strong favorites, big dogs winning outright and a few bad beats depending on your betting line. Let's take a look at the a preview of the Sweet 16 and the East Region from Washington D.C.

Miami-Florida Hurricanes (-5.5/127) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles

Marquette had to come back to beat Davidson, 59-58 on Thursday, getting 3.5. They also came back to hold on beat Butler on Saturday, 74-72, giving 2. Vander Blue lead the Golden Eagles with 14.8 points per game and had 29 against Butler, including shooting 9-of-15 to help them get into the Sweet 16. Blue has been huge in this tournament and will need to step up again. They shoot just 30.3 percent from beyond the arc so that’s not a big part of their game. They also don’t rebound well and that didn’t matter much against Butler. That will be a big key against Miami as they just need to hang in on the boards and not the Hurricanes dominate.

Miami-Florida struggled to beat Illinois on Sunday, giving 7.5. They were surprisingly outrebounded, 36-33, but defensively, allowed the Fighting Illini to shoot just 37.7 percent from the field. Rion Brown came off the bench to score 21 points. Miami tends to lack focus at times and instead of going inside, they rely too much on three-pointers. The Hurricanes do shoot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc and sophomore guard Shane Larkin nailed a key three to help them beat Illinois. They defend well, allowing teams to shoot just 39.6 from the field and 32.4 percent from beyond the arc. While they like to run, they are really better controlling the tempo and pounding the ball inside to Kenny Kadji (6-11, 242), who averages 13 points and 6.9 rebounds.

Syracuse Orange (-5.5/135) vs. Indiana Hoosiers

Syracuse is one of those teams that could have lost early or went all the way. They looked very impressive against Montana in the second round, beating the Grizzlies, 81-34, but then struggled against California on Sunday. The Orange won, 66-60 but didn’t cover the 7.5. Now they take on one of the best teams in the nation in the Indiana Hoosiers. Their 2-3 matchup zone forces team to shoot 28.9 percent from beyond the arc (7th) and 37.3 percent overall. F C.J. Fair leads the Orange with 14.5 points per game, while F James Southerland adds 13.7 points and 40 percent from beyond the arc. They need a better performance from guard Brandon Triche (13.8 points), who had 20 points against Montana, but shot just 1-of-8 from the field against California, scoring eight points. The Orange shot 33.7 percent from beyond the arc and 67.5 percent from the foul line.

The Indiana Hoosiers shoot it well from deep (41 percent), from beyond the arc (48.6 percent) and from the line (74.7 percent). They beat  Temple, 58-52 on Sunday laying 12. Temple held the Hoosiers to just 42.2 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-13 from beyond the arc. Cody Zeller leads with 16.7 points per game and 8 rebounds, but shot just 4-of-10 from the field against Temple. The star is Victor Oladipo (6-5, 210), who shoots 59 percent from the floor and 43 percent from beyond the arc. He’s one of the best defenders in the nation and also averages 13.6 points and 2.5 steals per game. Their defense allows teams to shoot just 39 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc. This game could be a classic.

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Re: Sweet 16 Betting News and Notes

Sweet 16 Betting Preview: South Region
Atssportsline.com

Now is the time for the power teams to advance or will there be a mid-major advance to the Elite Eight? There were some great upsets in the second and third rounds highlighted by Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown and Harvard over New Mexico, but will the Cinderellas cover and win outright in the Sweet 16? Let's take a look at the Sweet 16 and the South Region from Arlington, Tx.

Kansas Jayhawks (-2/136) vs. Michigan Wolverines

Kansas is coming off a dominant performance against North Carolina on Sunday, winning 70-58. They struggled in the opener against Western Kentucky, winning 64-57 on Friday, laying 20.5. The Jayhawks received a strong performance from 7-foot Jeff Withey, who had 16 points and 16 rebounds with five blocks against the Tar Heels. Kansas is tops in the nation in field goal percentage defense (35.7 percent) and 29th in three-point shooting defense (30.2 percent). They need a stronger game from star freshman Ben McLemore (16 points), who is struggling at the wrong team for the team and his NBA draft stock (had two points last game).

Michigan destroyed VCU, 78-53, giving 3.5 in their last game on Sunday. Point guard Trey Burke allowed them to beat the Havoc defense, as they turned the ball over only 12 times. Burke did have seven turnovers against that tough VCU defense, but did have seven assists and 18 points. C Mitch McGary (6-10, 250) was a beast in the paint with 21 points and 14 rebounds. But VCU didn’t have much size and it’s not likely he’ll have that kind of impact against Withey. Michigan averages 75.1 points per game and allows 62.4 points, while allowing teams to shoot just 32.4 percent from beyond the arc. They also shoot 38.2 percent from beyond the arc and 48.5 percent overall.

Florida Gators (-13/134) vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

Florida Gulf Coast is the first 15th seed to make the Sweet 16 and they are the story of the tournament. They also just opened the school in 1997 and are only in their second year of existence in Division I. That’s incredible and head coach Andy Enfield will be on many power program’s watch lists. The Eagles play with reckless abandon and that’s helped in their wins over #2 Georgetown (78-68) and #7 San Diego State (81-71) on Sunday. The Eagles have won seven straight games as they last lost to Stetson on Feb. 22 (80-71). Guard Brett Comer runs the show as he had 14 assists against San Diego State, while Sherwood Brown led the Eagles with 17 points and eight rebounds. The Eagles are strong defensively, as they allow teams to shoot just 31 percent from the arc and 41 percent overall. That matters against a pretty good perimeter shooting team from Gainesville.

Florida might have a chip on their shoulder knowing that FGC is getting all the attention from their home state. They are the only team left in the SEC but have been very impressive so far. They beat Northwestern State, 79-47 in the opener, laying 19.5. On Sunday, they defeated Minnesota, 78-64, giving 6. That ended Tubby Smith’s run at Minnesota as they shot 57 percent from the floor. The Gators also made 10-of-20 three-pointers. Guard Mike Rosario led the Gators with 25 points. Florida shoots 38 percent from beyond the arc and 48 percent from the field. The Gators win with defense as they allow teams to shoot 30.2 percent from beyond the arc and 37.8 percent from the field.

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Re: Sweet 16 Betting News and Notes

Sweet 16 Betting Preview: Midwest Region
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The first week is over and now the betting odds are sharper. There were some great upsets in the second and third rounds highlighted by Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown and Harvard over New Mexico, but will the Cinderellas cover and win outright in the Sweet 16? Let's take a look at the Sweet 16 and the Midwest Region from Indianapolis.
Midwest from Indianapolis, Ind.

Louisville Cardinals (-10/ 129) vs. Oregon Ducks

Louisville beat Colorado State, 82-56 on Saturday, as an 11-point betting odds favorite. The Cards own one of the best defenses in the nation, as they allow just 57.6 points per game and teams shoot just 39.1 percent from the field against them. They are led by guard Russ Smith (18.4 points per game), who scored 27 points against the Rams. They also have the size to compete against Oregon led by Gorgui Dieng (6-11, 245), who averages 10 points, 9.5 rebounds and has 70 blocks this year.

Oregon can run but they better control the tempo against Louisville, who will pressure the basketball. They were underseeded at number 12 and have been extremely impressive, beating St. Louis by 17 on Saturday after routing another quality team in Oklahoma State by 13 on Thursday, both as dogs. The Ducks are led by senior forward E.J. Singler and Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi (9.9 rebounds). The key will be how they handle the pressure. Point guard Dominic Artis (8.4 points) has only played about 18 minutes per game since coming back from injury but went 0-for-7 against St. Louis. They won the battle of the boards, 37-23, but turned it over 18 times.

Duke Blue Devils (-2/134) vs. Michigan State Spartans

Duke and Michigan State is more than a battle of the two great coaches in the nation: Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo.

Duke struggled against Albany in the second round (73-61), but had an easier time with Creighton, winning 66-50 as a 5.5-point betting odds favorite. Duke has one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation, as they’ve made 40.3 percent of their attempts (fifth) and average 77.8 points. They will have to shoot well in this game because 6-10 Marshall Plumlee won’t be able to dominate Derrick Nix (6-9, 270) inside. Rasheed Sulaimon (6-4, 190) is coming off a 21-point game against Creighton and is an x-factor for the Blue Devils, when teams focus on Seth Curry (17.3 points per game)

Michigan State wants to pound the ball into Nix, but they can also run.  Freshman Gary Harris led the Spartans to an easy 70-48 win over Memphis, giving 5.5 on Sunday. He has 23 points, while Adreian Payne (6-10, 240) added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Spartans defend the three, allowing teams to shoot just 29.7 percent and opponents to average just 58.8 points per game. The key will be the health of point guard Keith Appling (shoulder), who is expected to play.

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Re: Sweet 16 Betting News and Notes

March Madness Sweet 16 Betting Preview: West Region
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The first week is over and now the betting odds are sharper. There were some great upsets in the second and third rounds highlighted by Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown and Harvard over New Mexico, but will the Cinderellas cover and win outright in the Sweet 16? Let's take a look at the Sweet 16 and the West Region from Los Angeles, Ca.

Ohio State Buckeyes (-3.5/134) vs. Arizona Wildcats

Arizona has flown under the radar after beating Belmont, 81-64 as a 4.5-point favorite in the second round. On Saturday, they dominated #15 Harvard, 74-51. They did a great break with the matchups but this is a talented team that has underachieved at times. Guard Mark Lyons (27 points against Harvard) is a Xavier transfer who leads the team with 15.4 points per game. Arizona is underrated defensively except for one category-three-point shooting. They allow teams to shoot 35.4 percent from beyond the arc. Forward Solomon Hill gives the team an inside presence with 13.4 points per game.

Ohio State caught a break against #10 Iowa State on Sunday, as point guard Aaron Craft nailed a three-pointer to win, 78-75 giving 7.5,  with a half a second left. Craft leads the team with 2.1 steals per game and in assists with 4.7 per game. He’s not a great shooter but has the poise to take the last shot. Deshaun Thomas is an excellent shooter, who leads the Buckeyes with 19.7 points per game and in rebounds with 6.1 per game. Iowa State shot 12-of-25 from three-0point range against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes shot 9-of-18 for the difference. The Buckeyes do allow just 58.8 points and teams to shoot 32.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Wichita State Shockers (-4/135) vs. La Salle Explorers

Wichita State beat #1 seed Gonzaga, 76-70 to make it to the Sweet 16. That was an impressive feat considering they dominated Pittsburgh, 73-55 in the second round. The Shockers are led by Gregg Marshall, one of the hottest names in coaching circles. They key for them to advance is rebounding, as they were outrebounded by nine against a bigger Gonzaga team. That doesn’t matter since La Salle is a guard-oriented team. Senior F Carl Hall (12.8ppg, 7.2rpg) will need to step up. Cleanthony Early (6-8) is another quality forward, who had 16 points in he Gonzaga game. Both big men can step out and shoot threes. Can they handle La Salle’s guards. Marshall may have to go small and leave 7-foot Ehimen Orukpe on the bench.

La Salle is the only Sweet 16 team that had to win three games, starting from the First Four with a win over Boise State to beating Kansas State by two getting six on Friday. On Sunday, they needed a layup from Tyrone Garland with 2.5 seconds left to beat Ole Miss by two. Ramon Galloway is the star guard for the Explorers, who averages 17.4 points and 3.8 assists. This isn’t a great rebounding team as 6-8 Jerrell Wright leads with 6.8 rebounds per game. La Salle averages 72.5 points and shoots 37.7 percent from beyond the arc. Defensively, they allow teams to shoot just 29.9 percent from beyond the arc.

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March Madness Betting Strategies: Best Sweet 16 Values
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We are down to the Sweet 16 in college basketball, we've covered all the March Madness statistics, betting odds and trends. Let's get down to the nitty gritty. Louisville is the overwhelming favorite to win the National Championship (3/1) and to win their own Midwest Regional (10-13) in odds from Bovada.

Midwest Regional

Louisville offers great guard play, outstanding defense and a coach that has gotten the job done before in Rick Pitino, who won a championship with Kentucky in 1996. Kentucky has to take on Oregon, the number 12 seed with 40-1 odds to win the National Championship. Louisville is not a great value pick but Oregon does because they are an underrated team.

If Louisville gets past Oregon, they take on the Michigan State (15-1) or Duke (12-1). Duke is 11-4 to win the Midwest Region and are probably underrated, even though they are a 2-point betting odds favorite over Michigan State from Indianapolis. But Michigan State is playing in Big 10 country and is the more physical team. The major concern for Michigan State is whether point guard Keith Appling (shoulder) is 100 percent healthy. At 7-2 to win the region, Michigan State is the best value pick to win the region and title.

South Regional

Kansas is the number one seed in the South but Florida is favored to win the South Region (10-11) and is the second-favorite along with Indiana at 19-4 to win the National Championship. Florida takes on Florida Gulf Coast where most fans in Texas should be rooting for the 13-point underdog. Florida has excellent guard play led by Mike Rosario and a coach in Billy Donovan, who has won two national titles.

The winner takes on Michigan (5-2) or Kansas (5-2) The Jayhawks are 12-1 to win the National Championship. That's a little strange considering they are the top seed in the region. Kansas has one of the best big men in Jeff Withey, while Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford are solid guards. Michigan has outstanding guards in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Bill Self has won a national title with Kansas, while John Beilein has not. Kansas is a pretty good value at 12-1.

East Regional

Indiana is 19-4 to win the National Championship. The Hoosiers struggled in their previous game to beat Temple and now they take on Syracuse, a fourth seed. Tom Crean has never won a title, while Syracuse's Jim Boeheim has one. The Orange are 15-4 to win the East Region, while they are 22-1 to win the National title. Syracuse has a balanced offensive attack led by C.J. Fair and James Southerland. They run a 2-3 zone defense that might bother Indiana. If Victor Oladipo gets hot from the outside, Indiana should move on ot the Elite Eight.

If Indiana wins, they move on to face Marquette or Miami. The Miami-Florida Hurricanes are a number two seed and 9-1 to win the National Championship. They are also 2-1 to win the East Region. Marquette is a scrappy team that has come back to win both games over Davidson and Butler. They are pretty deep and Miami is without center Reggie Johnson, who is out with a minor knee injury. But the Hurricanes do have point guard Shane Larkin and head coach Jim Larranaga has taken George Mason to the Final Four. He accomplished that feat in Washington D.C.  Miami-Florida is a solid value to win this region and go on to the title 9-1.

West Regional

Ohio State is the second seed since Gonzaga was eliminated by Wichita State. The Buckeyes are now 1-1 to win the West Region and 17-2 to win the National Championship. They take on Arizona from Los Angeles, which gives an advantage to the Wildcats, who play USC and UCLA in the Pac-12. However, Arizona has had to beat Harvard and Belmont to get here so they are in for a rude awakening against a team that barely beat Iowa State. Arizona at 18-1 to win the National title and 21-10 to win the West is a good value.

If Arizona beats Ohio State, they would face Wichita State or La Salle. Both teams are underdogs though La Salle is an even better story, having to win three games to get here. The Explorers are 66-1 , while Wichita State is 40-1. La Salle has the better guards led by Ramon Galloway, while Wichita State has more quality frontcourt players anchored by Cleanthony Early. The winner would be a big underdog against Arizona and a small dog against Arizona.

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